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Infants born to older men at risk of premature birth

Infants born to older men are at greater risk of premature birth, low birth weight and other neonatal problems, says a study published in the British Medical Journal (October).

The study conducted by Stanford University analysed data gathered by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on more than 40 million live births between 2007 and 2016 in the US. It found that infants born to men aged between 45 and 54 years had 15 percent increased risk for premature birth (born an average of 12 weeks earlier) and an 18 percent increased risk for seizure compared with babies born to men aged 25-34 years. They were also 14 percent more likely to be admitted into a neonatal intensive care unit and 9 percent more likely to need antibiotics. Babies of fathers older than 55 years faced even greater risk.

Comments Dr. Michael L. Eisenberg, director of male reproductive medicine and surgery at Stanford University, and lead author of the study: “There are potential risks with waiting. Men should not think that they have an unlimited runway.”

Public child health programmes-reduced anaemia correlation

Improved public health and nutrition programmes for children under five years of age, and higher education and wealth among pregnant mothers substantially contributed to lowering the incidence of anaemia among these two groups in India over the decade 2006-2016, says a study published in the BMJ Global Health Journal (October). According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington, which conducted the study, more than half of India’s women and children are anaemic and consequently experience “lower quality of life in various respects, including work capacity, fatigue, cognitive functions, birth outcomes and child development”.

According to IFPRI researchers, positive changes in mothers’ education, coverage of nutrition and health programmes, socioeconomic status, sanitation, and meat and fish consumption contributed to improvement in hemoglobin count — low hemoglobin count indicates anemia — among both children and pregnant women during 2006-16. Better education alone accounted for nearly one-fourth of the improvement seen in hemoglobin count among expectant mothers, and one-tenth in children.

“Further improvements in these common drivers can substantially impact maternal and child anaemia, simultaneously bringing down anaemia prevalence across the country in these two groups,” says Phuong Hong Nguyen, lead author and IFPRI researcher.

Spanking children is minimally effective

A new policy statement released in October by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly advises parents against spanking children. The academy, which represents 67,000 doctors in the US, in its statement emphasised that spanking, which it defined as “non-injurious, open-handed hitting with the intention of modifying child behaviour,” is “minimally effective” in disciplining children.

The academy’s new policy statement, which will be published in the December issue of Pediatrics, updates its 20-year-old guidance on child discipline. It is based on latest research which highlights that corporal punishment is associated with increased aggression and defiance in children.

AAP also warned that “aversive disciplinary strategies, including all forms of corporal punishment and yelling at or shaming children, are minimally effective in the short-term and not effective in the long-term. With new evidence, researchers link corporal punishment to an increased risk of negative behavioural, cognitive, psychosocial, and emotional outcomes for children.”

Obesity in adolescence linked to pancreatic cancer

An obese teenager or young adult is four times at risk of developing pancreatic cancer in later life, according to a research study conducted by Tel Aviv University and published in the journal, Cancer (2018). The study surveyed 1,087,358 Jewish men and 707,212 women between 16-19 years. The prevalence of obesity in adolescence was linked with 3.67 times higher pancreatic cancer risk among men and 4.07 times higher risk among women. Pancreatic cancer is the sixth most common cause of cancer-related deaths the world over, and has a very low survival rate.

“It’s been known for some time that obesity can increase an individual’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer, and (this is) an important new finding suggesting that obesity and overweight in adolescence can also impact risk,” says Allison Rosenzweig, a senior manager at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

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