Dublin: A new research from RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences has demonstrated the beneficial effects of breastmilk consumption on cardiovascular health and early cardiovascular development in premature infants. The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘JAMA Network Open’. The study of 80 preterm infants is the first of its kind to show that preterm infants with higher exposure to their mother’s own milk had enhanced cardiac function at age one year, with values approaching those of healthy full-term infants.
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The research was led by Professor Afif EL-Khuffash, Clinical Professor of Paediatrics at RCSI and Consultant Neonatologist at the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Oxford; Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto; Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; Washington University School of Medicine; and, Harvard Medical School.
Children and adults who are born preterm are at increased risk of cardiovascular disorders, including ischemic heart disease, heart failure, systemic and pulmonary hypertension, and are more likely to die as a result of cardiovascular disease.
The hearts of young people born early are known to have unique traits such as reduced biventricular volume, shorter length, lower systolic and diastolic function and a disproportionate increase in muscle mass.
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This results in impaired heart function, which is significantly lower than that of healthy infants who are born at term. This dysfunction is detectable at hospital discharge and persists throughout their adolescence.
This study showed that exclusive breast milk consumption in the first months after birth is associated with a normalisation of some of these traits. Premature infants exposed to a high proportion of their mother’s own milk during the first few weeks after delivery had greater left and right heart function and structure with lower lung pressures and enhanced right heart response to stress at one year of age compared to preterm infants who had a higher intake of formula, with all measures approaching those seen in term-born healthy children.
These findings were apparent before discharge from the hospital and persisted up to a year of age (the duration of follow up).
This study provides the first evidence of an association between early postnatal nutrition in preterm-born infants and heart function over the first year of age, and adds to the already known benefits of breast milk for infants born prematurely. Preterm infants have abnormal heart function. However, those who are fed their mother’s own milk demonstrate recovery of their heart function to levels comparable to healthy term-born infants. Preterm infants fed formula do not demonstrate this recovery, Professor EL-Khuffash said.
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NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.