1 in 7 babies worldwide born with low birthweight—Global study
Aileen Cerrudo • May 17, 2019 • 1165
One in 7 babies around the world is born with a low birthweight according to a global study. That translates to around 15% or 20 million babies worldwide.
Babies born with a low birthweight weigh less than 2,500g or 5.5 pounds and have a higher risk of stunting, lower IQ and death during their childhood.
They also have a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other noncommunicable disease during their adulthood.
According to the The United Nations Children’s Fund or UNICEF, half of the babies born with low birthweight are from Asia. It is also a problem in countries like New Zealand, Australia, and other countries in Europe and North America.
The lead author of the study, Dr. Hannah Blencowe from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said, “Despite clear commitments, our estimates indicate that national governments are doing too little to reduce low birthweight. We have seen very little change over 15 years, even in high-income settings where low birthweight is often due to prematurity as a result of high maternal age, smoking, medically unnecessary caesarean sections and fertility treatments that increase the risk of multiple births.”
“To meet the global nutrition target of a 30% reduction in low birthweight by 2025 will require more than doubling the pace of progress,” she added.
The world is backsliding in the fight against measles, which can disable or kill, especially children, with a record number of cases recorded up to August only since 2006 and nearly three times as many cases than in July 2018 at that time, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday (August 30).
The biggest outbreaks of the highly contagious disease — one person with measles can spread it up to 18 non-immunized other people — are raging in the Democratic Republic of Congo (155,460 cases), Madagascar (127,454) and Ukraine (54,246) it said.
Europe has lost ground also, with four countries stripped off their “measles-free” status in 2018 — Albania, Czech Republic, Greece, and Britain, the WHO said.
The United States has recorded 1,215 measles cases across 30 states in its worst outbreak since 1992, federal health officials said on Monday.
Nearly 365,000 cases have been reported globally this year, the highest figure since 2006, according to the U.N. Health Agency, noting that they represent only a fraction of the 6.7 million estimated cases annually.
A vaccine-preventable disease, measles caused an estimated 109,000 deaths in 2017, figures for 2018 won’t be known before November.
Weak health systems, a lack of vaccines in some areas, and complacency towards the disease, leading people to believe that since it has been eliminated there is no need to get vaccinated, are behind the surge, the WHO says.
Trust in vaccines — one of the world’s most effective and widely-used medical products — is highest in poor countries but weaker in wealthier ones where skepticism has allowed outbreaks of diseases such as measles to persist, a global study found in June.
In 53 countries of Europe, 90,000 measles cases were recorded in the first half of this year, more than that for all of 2018, according to the WHO. (REUTERS)
“Yet each year, millions of newborns miss out on the benefits of early breastfeeding and the reasons – all too often – are things we can change,” according to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore. “Mothers simply don’t receive enough support to breastfeed within those crucial minutes after birth, even from medical personnel at health facilities.”
The World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated from August 1 to 7.—AAC
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning on the alarming increase of dengue cases in some parts of Asia.
In an advisory released on Wednesday (June12), the WHO said several Asian countries are experiencing unusually high numbers of dengue cases for this time of year.
With the rainy season approaching, the WHO is calling for action to minimize illness and deaths from dengue.
“Dengue is one of the fastest-spreading mosquito-borne diseases. Worldwide, the incidence of dengue has increased 30-fold over the past 50 years,” the news release said.
It added that, “of an estimated 2.5 billion people at risk for dengue globally, about 70% live in Asia Pacific countries. Climate conditions, unclean environments, unplanned urban settlements and rapid urbanization can lead to increased mosquito breeding, especially in urban and semi-urban areas.”
It further said, “several countries in the WHO Western Pacific Region such as Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Viet Nam have observed early increases in the number of dengue cases reported so far this year.”
In Cambodia, more than 1300 suspected cases were reported in week 21 alone — a level which is higher than expected for this time of the year.
In the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, as of week 21, a total of 4,216 suspected cases including 14 deaths have been reported.
In Malaysia, a total of 52,941 cases including 81 deaths were reported during the first 22 weeks of 2019.
In Singapore, as of week 21 of 2019, there were a total of 3,886 cases reported.
In Viet Nam, there have been a total of 59,959 suspected cases reported including four deaths as of week 19.
In the Philippines, a total of 77,040 suspected cases of dengue, including 328 deaths, were reported in the first 20 weeks of 2019.
The WHO said, “this is almost double the 41,104 cases reported during the same time period last year. Case numbers remain high, but as they are starting to decline, the rainy season is approaching.”
“The increased number of cases is of concern, but even more worrying is the increase in the rate of people dying from dengue, especially children,” said Dr Takeshi Kasai, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, adding that “this is a signal that we need to work with countries to strengthen care as well as prevention.”
“Health workers in dengue-endemic areas must be able to recognize the symptoms of dengue and the warning signs of severe dengue, do diagnostic tests and provide life-saving care. Also, families need to know what symptoms to look for and where to get early medical attention. This is especially urgent with the rainy season coming to many parts of Asia,” he added.
Call for action
The WHO advisory said that there is no specific treatment for dengue but early detection, improved clinical management and access to proper medical care for severe dengue can reduce fatality rates.
The international health body recommends that dengue-endemic countries continue educating the population and health workers on recognizing dengue symptoms and the warning signs of severe dengue.
It added that appropriate home care with adequate hydration and rest during the early stages can minimize the risk of the disease becoming severe.
The WHO also urges countries to train health professionals on the diagnosis and proper management of dengue and to prepare health centers and hospitals for effective response in case of outbreaks and influxes of patients.
WHO also encourages governments and communities to reduce the spread of dengue by informing the public of how to clean up mosquito breeding sites.
“With these measures, we can minimize the impact of dengue on people in our Region and save lives,” said Dr. Kasai.
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