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Tuesday, June 17, 2008


More children left behind

It just gets worse:
The latest annual Kids Count report noted a marked increase in childhood poverty from 2000 to 2006, with 18 percent of U.S. children, or 13.3 million kids, living in poverty. The figure has grown by 1 million children since 2000.

Even more worrisome is the report’s 2005 data showing that 8.2 percent of U.S. babies were born weighing less than 5.5 pounds—the highest rate of low birth weights since 1968. Those babies are at greater risk of early death or long-term disabilities.
In Cuba, where "no child left behind" is a policy rather than a slogan, the low birth weight percentage is 6, well under that of the wealthy U.S. Not only that, but they are actively working on an innovative way to insure the survivability and long-term health of such newborns - "kangaroo care":
Now mothers of infants born weighing less than 2,500 grams [5.5 pounds] are being offered an alternative to traditional incubator care which, according to results at Vila Clara’s Mariana Grajales Maternity Hospital, has increased survival rates and reduced the incidence of disorders associated with low birth weight. Since it began a year ago in the province of Pinar del Río, 43 Cuban mothers have participated in a new paradigm of treatment for critically low birth weight infants known as skin-to-skin, or kangaroo care method.

According to Dr Caridad Manso, director of the provincial neonatal group in Villa Clara, the infants are kept with their mothers 24 hours a day in a kangaroo-like terry cloth pouch worn on the chest. The close contact with the mother keeps the child warm and the mother's heart beat helps in the development of the child's nervous system. The child is allowed to freely nurse and gains weight more quickly than children in traditional incubator setting. Since the mother provides the majority of care complications caused by infections are also less common.

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