Breastfeeding: World’s most effective, inexpensive life-saver

In 2011, more than 6.9 million children died before their fifth birthday. Over 98% of these deaths occurred in developing countries. India accounted for 1.6 million deaths. Pediatricians and public health experts say exclusive breastfeeding for six months can save many such children.

According to the United Nations Children’s Funds (UNICEF), breastfeeding is the most effective and inexpensive way of saving a child’s life.

“Breastfeeding is a baby’s ‘first immunization’ and the most effective and inexpensive life-saverever,” says UNICEF deputy executive director Geeta Rao Gupta. “There is no other single intervention that has such a high impact for babies and mothers as breastfeeding and which costs so little for governments.” She says starting breastfeeding in the first hour after birth can reduce the risk of newborn death by up to 22% by averting deaths related to sepsis, pneumonia, diarrhoea and hypothermia.

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Brain chemistry differs in kids with autism, study finds

According to a new study from the University of Washington, autistic children between 3 and 10 exhibit distinct brain chemistry from children with developmental delays, as well as those with typical development.

The fact that early brain chemical alterations tend to normalize throughout development provides new insight into efforts aimed at improving early detection and intervention.

According to Stephen Dager, associate director of UW’s Center on Human Development and Disability and corresponding author of the study, this is similar to patterns normally observed in people who have sustained a closed head injury and recovered.

These early chemical alterations may provide insight into specific processes at play in autism, or even hold clues as to how these processes might be reversed.

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Oh baby! Mother gives birth to 13-pound girl in Germany

One of the heaviest babies ever born in Germany was born last week at the University Hospital Leipzig.

The baby girl, Jasleen, weighed a whopping 13.47 pounds and measured nearly 23 inches long.

She was born vaginally, not via a C-section, according to a hospital statement.

“We anticipated that the child would be big,” said Holger Stepan, chief of obstetrics. “We prepared in advance by assembling a special team (of doctors and midwives) to be ready for any possible complications.”

He said he’d never before helped in the birth of such a heavy baby.

The girl’s mother suffered from gestational diabetes, which, when untreated or uncontrolled, can cause babies to be born larger than normal.

Her condition was not discovered until the mother checked herself into the hospital while in labor. She had not previously been a patient there.

The hospital said both mother and child are well.

According to the website for Guinness World Records, the heaviest baby — weighing in at more than 23 pounds — was born in Seville, Ohio, on January 19, 1879. He died 11 hours later.

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Camping may help retrain your body rhythm

It’s no surprise that without electricity, we’d all hit the hay a lot earlier – but a new study has found just how much electric lighting affects our sleep wake cycles. The study, published online in the journal Current Biology, also found that all it takes is a week of camping in the great outdoors to synch your body to the rising and setting of the sun.

Research has shown that our bodies are most in synch with the environment when we’re exposed to a lot of natural light during the day and not exposed to artificial light at night. The daylight keeps our circadian rhythm “entrained” to the sun’s rhythms. When the sun sets, it then triggers the release of melatonin, which makes us sleepy. But since we spend most of our days indoors, we’re not getting enough sun exposure to adequately entrain our circadian rhythm. We bask in electric lights and the glow of the TV and our bright devices at night, which delay the release of melatonin.

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Boys with autism spend more time playing video games

Boys who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are more likely to spend excessive amounts of time playing video games compared to boys without ASD, MedPage Today reported.

In a study published in Pediatrics, researchers examined video game use – as reported by parents – in 56 boys with autism spectrum disorder, 44 boys with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and 41 boys with typical development. All of the study participants were between 8 and 18 years of age.

Children with ASD spent an average of 2.1 hours playing video games every day, compared to only 1.2 hours for their typically-developing peers. Boys with ADHD also spent more time playing video games than typically-developing children, but the difference was not statistically significant.

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