WHO advises immediate “kangaroo mother care” for increased survival rates of premature babies

Credit: David Ballot for the Jacobs School of Engineering, UC San Diego.

Credit: David Ballot for the Jacobs School of Engineering, UC San Diego.

Every year, an estimated 15 million babies are born premature (before 37 weeks of pregnancy), amounting to more than one in 10 of all births globally, and over 20 million babies have a low birthweight (under 2.5 kg at birth). Prematurity is now the leading cause of death of children under 5. The World Health Organization (WHO) launched new guidelines to improve survival and health outcomes for babies born prematurely or small, advising that skin-to-skin contact with a caregiver – known as kangaroo mother care – should start immediately after birth, without any initial period in an incubator. Because preterm babies lack body fat, they have problems regulating their own temperature when they are born and often require medical assistance with breathing. These babies are commonly first stabilized in an incubator away from the mother for three to seven days, on average. Research now shows that starting kangaroo mother care – combining skin-to-skin contact in a special sling or wrap for as many hours as possible with a primary caregiver, usually the mother, and exclusive breastfeeding – immediately after birth saves many more lives, reduces infections and hypothermia, and improves feeding.

Breastfeeding is also strongly recommended in the guidelines, with evidence showing it reduces infection risks compared to infant formula. While most babies born at or after 28 weeks in high-income countries go on to survive, in poorer countries survival rates can be as low as 10%. Most preterm babies can be saved through the feasible, cost-effective measures recommended by the WHO. The guidelines also advocate for increased emotional and financial support for caregivers. Parental leave is needed to help families care for the infant while government and regulatory policies and entitlements should ensure families of preterm and low birthweight babies receive sufficient financial and workplace support.

Source: asamonitor.pub/3OVbPpf

Bypass surgery favorable compared to endovascular treatment for chronic limb-threatening ischemia

A National Institutes of Health (NIH)-supported clinical research trial has found open bypass surgery restores circulation for people with a severe form of peripheral artery disease (PAD) – a condition in which blood flow to one or both legs is reduced by a buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries – resulted in better outcomes for specific patients compared to a less-invasive procedure. More than 8.5 million U.S. adults live with PAD, and one in 10 develops a severe form called chronic limb-threatening ischemia (CLTI), a painful and debilitating condition that can lead to amputation if untreated. Up to 22 million people worldwide have CLTI, which is also associated with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and death. Common symptoms of CLTI include leg and foot pain, foot infections, and open sores on the leg and foot that don’t fully heal. Without having a procedure to redirect or open blocked blood flow to the lower body, about four in 10 adults with CLTI have a lower leg or foot amputation.

Researchers enrolled 1,830 adults who were planning to have revascularization and who were also eligible for both open bypass surgery and an endovascular procedure. The first trial included 1,434 participants who were randomly assigned to have either a surgical bypass or an endovascular procedure. The second trial included 396 adults who were not the best candidates for the open bypass because they did not have an adequate amount of the preferred saphenous vein. They were randomized to have either an endovascular procedure or a bypass that used alternate graft material instead of the saphenous vein. Researchers found that participants in the first trial who received the bypass were 32% less likely to have major medical events related to CLTI than those who had an endovascular procedure. Adults in the second trial had no major differences in outcomes based on having had an open bypass or an endovascular procedure.

Source: asamonitor.pub/3B3HYVT

Quadripartite launches Platform to address global antimicrobial resistance threat

The Quadripartite is launching a platform to underscore the threat antimicrobial resistance (AMR) presents to humans, animals, plants, ecosystems, and livelihoods. The Quadripartite is made up of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the UN Environment Program (UNEP), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH). An estimated 1.3 million people around the world die each year directly due to AMR; the Antimicrobial Resistance Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Platform is designed to ensure the growing threats and impacts of antimicrobial resistance are addressed globally. AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites no longer respond to antimicrobial agents. As a result of drug resistance, antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents become ineffective and infections become difficult or impossible to treat, increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness, and death. AMR also affects agricultural communities and aquaculture through the spread of resistant strains of pathogens. Applications to crops, as well as unproper disposal of unused and expired drugs and waste from industries and communities, can lead to pollution of soils and streams that spread the trigger for unwanted microorganisms to develop resistance to tools meant to contain and eliminate them.

The AMR Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Platform will engage with stakeholders across the One Health spectrum to build consensus among public and private stakeholders on the global AMR vision, gain knowledge to foster a collective understanding of AMR challenges and opportunities, and take multistakeholder actions to contain, combat, and reverse AMR in line with the Global Action Plan and National Action Plans. To increase awareness, the theme of this year’s World Antimicrobial Awareness Week is “Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together.” The leaders of the Platform and Quadripartite emphasize that the threat of AMR is directly tied to other global crises, like climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste, all of which are driven by unsustainable consumption and production patterns.

Source: asamonitor.pub/3OWJRcW

Engineers develop a self-powered ingestible sensor to monitor glucose in the small intestine

Engineering researchers at the University of California San Diego have developed a battery-free, pill-shaped ingestible biosensing system designed to provide continuous monitoring of gut metabolites in real time, which wasn’t possible before. The technological integration could unlock a new understanding of intestinal metabolite composition, which significantly impacts overall human health. Approximately 20% of all people will suffer from gastrointestinal disorders at some point in their lives, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), diabetes, or obesity, caused in part by the dysfunction of the intestinal processes involving the absorption or digestion of gut metabolites. Such maladies represent a significant cost to the economy and strain on health care systems.

In the experiments, the ingestible, biofuel-driven sensor facilitated in-situ access to the small intestine, continuously yielding glucose measurement in the small intestines of pigs, which have a similar-size GI tract to humans, every five seconds for two to five hours. Existing methods for monitoring the inside of the small intestine can cause significant discomfort for patients while generating only single short data recordings of an environment that continuously changes. By contrast, this biosensor provides access to continuous data readings over time. The “smart pill” approach could lead to simpler and cheaper ways to monitor the small intestine, which could lead to significant cost savings in the future. Instead of a battery, the “smart pill” is powered by a nontoxic fuel cell that runs on glucose. The unique battery-free operation is made possible by the team’s glucose biofuel cell (BFC) for obtaining power during operation while simultaneously measuring changing glucose concentrations. Its energy-efficient magnetic human body communication (mHBC) scheme operates in the 40-200 MHz range to receive the time-resolved transmitted signals. The proof-of-concept smart pill measures 2.6 cm in length and 0.9 cm in diameter, and the team’s next goal is to reduce the size of the pill and to add additional sensors to enable monitoring of more chemical parameters in the intestines.

Source: asamonitor.pub/3gVc6vV