‘Kangaroo care’ key for prem babies.


Mothers carrying babies skin-to-skin could significantly cut global death and disability rates from premature birth, a leading expert has said.

Prof Joy Lawn says “kangaroo care“, not expensive intensive care, is the key.

Premature baby in an incubator

The 15 million babies every year born at or before 37 weeks gestation account for about 10% of the global burden of disease, and one million of them die.

Of those who survive, just under 3% have moderate or severe impairments and 4.4% have mild impairments.

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Unless there are those breathing problems, kangaroo care is actually better ”

Prof Joy Lawn London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Prof Lawn, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), said: “The perception is you need intensive care for pre-term babies,

“But 85% of babies born premature are six weeks early or less. They need help feeding, with temperature control and they are more prone to infection.

“It’s really only before 32 weeks that their lungs are immature and they need help breathing,

She added: “Unless there are those breathing problems, kangaroo care is actually better because it promotes breastfeeding and reduces infection.”

Speaking ahead of World Prematurity Day on Friday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who leads the Every Woman Every Child movement, which promotes improvements to healthcare for women and children, said: “Three-quarters of the one million babies who die each year from complications associated with prematurity could have been saved with cost-effective interventions, even without intensive care facilities.”

Duncan Wilbur, from the UK charity Bliss, said, “While kangaroo care saves lives in countries such as Africa, it is also incredibly important for babies born too soon all over the world.

“Here in the UK our medical technology is extremely advanced but simply giving a baby kangaroo care or skin-to-skin can help make a baby’s breathing and heart rate more regular, it can help a baby’s discomfort during certain medical procedures and importantly can benefit breastfeeding and bonding between the baby and parents.”

Pregnancy risks

Studies to be published this weekend in the Pediatric Research journal show boys are 14% more likely to be born prematurely – and boys who are premature are more likely to die or experience disability than girls.

Common disabilities include learning disorders and cerebral palsy.

Prof Lawn said: “One partial explanation for more preterm births among boys is that women pregnant with a boy are more likely to have placental problems, pre-eclampsia, and high blood pressure, all associated with preterm births.”

She added: “Baby boys have a higher likelihood of infections, jaundice, birth complications, and congenital conditions, but the biggest risk for baby boys is due to preterm birth.

“For two babies born at the same degree of prematurity, a boy will have a higher risk of death and disability compared to a girl.

“Even in the womb, girls mature more rapidly than boys, which provides an advantage, because the lungs and other organs are more developed.

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Waste Not, Want Not.


Every year, we waste or lose 1.3 billion metric tons of food – one-third of the world’s annual food production. The sheer scale of the number makes it almost impossible to grasp, no matter how one approaches it. Try to imagine 143,000 Eiffel Towers stacked one on top of another, or a pile of 10 trillion bananas.

This illustration is by Paul Lachine and comes from <a href="http://www.newsart.com">NewsArt.com</a>, and is the property of the NewsArt organization and of its artist. Reproducing this image is a violation of copyright law.
Illustration by Paul Lachine

The figure is all the more unfathomable, given that, alongside this massive wastage and loss, 840 million people experience chronic hunger on a daily basis. Many millions more suffer from “silent hunger” – malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies.

For the more economically minded, here is another number: food wastage and loss, expressed in producer prices, costs roughly $750 billion per year. If we were to consider retail prices and the wider impacts on the environment, including climate change, the figure would be much higher.

In an era of austerity, it is difficult to understand how such a massive hemorrhage of resources could be neglected. In fact, in some places, the volume of food wastage is rising.When food is lost or wasted, the energy, land, and water resources that went into producing it are squandered as well. At the same time, large amounts of greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere during production, processing, and cooking.Now a new report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization focuses on another troubling aspect of the problem: the negative consequences for the environment and the natural resources on which we rely for our survival.

From any perspective – ethical, economic, environmental, or in terms of food security – we simply cannot tolerate the annual wastage of 1.3 billion tons of food. This is why serious reduction of food loss and wastage is one of the five elements of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s “Zero Hunger Challenge” and a major focus of the UN High Level Task Force on Global Food Security. We are working together within the UN system and with a broad coalition of other partners to ensure universal access to adequate food all year round; eliminate childhood stunting; make all food systems sustainable; and eradicate rural poverty.

hNext week, the Global Green Growth Forum in Copenhagen will allow for a deeper look at this issue. There is much that can be done. For starters, food loss and wastage needs to be seen as a cross-cutting policy issue, rather than a lifestyle choice to be left in the hands of individual consumers and their consciences. The world needs to wake up to the need for policies that address all stages of the food chain, from production to consumption.

Food loss – on farms, during processing, transport, and at markets – undermines food security in most developing countries, where post-harvest losses can reach as high as 40% of production. Investment in infrastructure for transport, storage, and marketing of food is badly needed, as are programs to train farmers in best practices.

In developed countries, food-retailing practices require a rethink. For example, rejection of food products on the basis of aesthetic concerns is a major cause of wastage. Some supermarkets have already begun relaxing standards on fruit appearance, selling “misshapen” items at reduced prices and helping to raise awareness that ugly does not mean bad. More approaches like this – and concerted efforts to find markets or uses for surplus food – are needed.

Businesses and households alike should monitor where and how they waste food and take corrective steps, because prevention of wastage is even more important than recycling or composting.

Yes, 1.3 billion tons is a mindboggling figure. But these simple steps are easy enough to grasp – and within reach for everyone. The world confronts many seemingly intractable problems; food wastage is one issue that we all can do something about now.


Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/on-the-massive-costs-of-food-wastage-and-loss-by-jose-graziano-da-silva-and-achim-steiner#P2axGzpQLsyA33mC.99

United Nations declares November 10 as ‘Malala Day’.


The United Nations has declared November 10 as ‘Malala Day’ in honour of Pakistani teeenage rights activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban last month for campaigning for girls’ education.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon‘s Special Envoy for Global Education, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, has said November 10 has been declared Malala Day.

“This Saturday (November 10th) will see Malala Day, a global event to show the world that people of all creeds; all sexes, all backgrounds and all countries stand behind Malala,” Brown said.

“We are Malala – This is Malala day. The world to walk in the footsteps of this girl of courage. Malala Yousafzai has become a global icon of hope, an international symbol of courage, a schoolgirl who has won the hearts of millions through her bravery.

“Malala’s dream is a Pakistan where she, her friends and future generations of girls could attend school, walk freely into a classroom, learn and reach their full potential.”

The UN chief said citizens from across the globe are speaking out for Yousafzai and on behalf of the 61 million children who do not go to school.

“I am adding my voice to the messages from over one million people across the globe. Education is a fundamental human right. It is a pathway to development, tolerance and global citizenship,” Ban said in a brief video message posted on the UN website.

He called the international community to join the UN campaign to put education first “for Malala and girls and boys throughout the world”.

Events have been planned in over 100 countries, from the UK and USA to Mexico, India, Australia and Sierra Leone to mark the day.

In the UK where there is a host of local events, the most poignant event will take place in Lozells, Birmingham only a few miles away from Malala’s hospital.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Britain’s Senior Minister of State at the Foreign Office and Minister for faith and communities, hailed Malala Yousufzai’s inspirational activism ahead of Malala Day today.

Baroness Warsi, said: “Through her inspirational activism Malala has bravely highlighted the need for education to be accessible to all children in Pakistan.

“Education is the single most important factor that can transform Pakistan’s future.”

Thousands of people from across the world have signed a global petition calling for her to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala is recovering in a British hospital from gun shot wounds and has received messages of support for her cause from global leaders, including US President Barack Obama.