Friday December 6, 2019

Children Orphans by Ebola in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo Doubles

The U.N. children's fund reports the number of children orphaned by Ebola or separated from their parents because of the disease

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FILE - Two-month-old Lahya Kathembo, whose mother and father died of Ebola, is carried by a nurse waiting for test results at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, DRC, July 17, 2019. VOA

The U.N. children’s fund reports the number of children orphaned by Ebola or separated from their parents because of the disease in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has more than doubled since April.

Since the epidemic was declared more than one year ago, aid agencies have registered 1,380 children who have lost one or both parents to Ebola. During the same period, nearly 2,470 children have been separated from parents undergoing treatment for the disease or isolated because they have come in contact with an infected person.

World Health Organization figures put the number of Ebola cases at 2,831, including nearly 1,900 deaths. UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado says more children are getting sick and dying in this epidemic than in previous ones.

“In this epidemic, about 30 percent of the cases are among children, whereas in previous epidemics, the proportion was about 20 percent,” Mercado  said. “As of the fourth of August, there were 787 children below 18 who were infected with Ebola and there have been 527 deaths.”

Children, Orphans, Ebola
FILE – Health workers begin their shift at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, July 16, 2019. VOA

Mercado says the children are under enormous stress and need extensive physical, psychosocial and social care. Given the more than doubling of children in need, she says these specialized services must be urgently scaled up, especially in Beni, where the largest number of children are affected.

“For children with no surviving parents, the needs are longer term,” she said. “The teams work to place children with relatives or foster families, which is not easy given the economic burden of raising extra children and the fear of catching the disease or being associated with it. It often requires delicate mediation, as well as financial support for food, school fees and other basic necessities.”

The work being done by psychosocial assistants is critical because stigma against Ebola orphans is pervasive, Mercado told VOA. She added that children who have been in contact with someone infected with the virus often are rejected by families and communities who believe they will become sick.

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This, she said, is when social workers step in to convince these people they have nothing to fear and that providing loving care for the children will help them thrive. (VOA)

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Parents With Single Child More Likely to Tackle an Obese Kid: Study

Researchers found mothers of singleton children were more likely to be obese themselves

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Researchers have found that only Child, who researchers refer to as 'singleton,' have less healthy family eating practices, beverage choices, and total Healthy Eating Index 2010 score, coming in lower on three out of the 12 areas measured. Pixabay

Parents with only Child are more likely to tackle an obese kid as children without siblings may be at a higher risk of gaining weight than those who have brothers and sisters, say researchers.

This is because families with multiple children tend to make more healthy eating decisions than families with a single child, the study added.

The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, found that this kind of obesity could be seven times more common among youngsters.

“Healthier eating behaviours and patterns may result from household-level changes rather than peer exposure, as peer exposure is also present in away-from-home care,” said study lead author Chelsea L. Kracht from the University of Oklahoma in the US.

According to the researchers, data was self-reported in daily food logs kept by mothers over the course of three days — two weekdays and one weekend day. Teachers kept logs by proxy for any food children ate while at school.

Mothers also completed the Family Nutrition and Physical Activity questionnaire to evaluate typical family eating behaviour like food and beverage choice.

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Parents with only Child are more likely to tackle an obese kid as children without siblings may be at a higher risk of gaining weight than those who have brothers and sisters, say researchers. Pixabay

Researchers have found that only-children, who researchers refer to as ‘singletons,’ had less healthy family eating practices, beverage choices, and total Healthy Eating Index 2010 score, coming in lower on three out of the 12 areas measured.

They also had significantly lower total scores across weekdays, weekends, and on average, indicating there are both individual and collective differences in eating patterns between the groups.

Researchers found mothers of singleton children were more likely to be obese themselves. Moreover, maternal BMI had a much stronger connection to child BMI percentile and waist circumference percentile than singleton status.

Maternal BMI did not significantly contribute to overall eating patterns but did contribute to empty calories.

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Families with multiple children tend to make more healthy eating decisions than families with a single Child, the study added. Pixabay

The research also found that time spent in away-from-home care like school and daycare was not connected to children’s eating patterns.

“Nutrition professionals must consider the influence of family and siblings to provide appropriate and tailored nutrition education for families of young children,” said Kracht.

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“Efforts to help all children and families establish healthy eating habits and practices must be encouraged,” Kracht added. (IANS)