Sunday September 23, 2018

Your Children Might Be At Risk! According to UNICEF, 32 Nations Lack Policies to Support Families With Children

The report says that only 15 countries, including Cuba, France, Portugal, Russia and Sweden, have all the three essential national policies that support families with young children

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New York, September 23, 2017 : Thirty-two countries, having the world’s 85 million children under the age of five, do not have any essential policy that supports families with young children, a UNICEF report said.

According to the global body, 40 per cent of the 85 million children, live in just two countries – Bangladesh and the US. The report said that data from various countries including India was missing.

The report says that only 15 countries, including Cuba, France, Portugal, Russia and Sweden, have all the three essential national policies that support families with young children.

“We need to do more to give parents and care givers of young children the support they need during this most critical period of brain development,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, adding that if nations don’t invest now in the most vulnerable children and families, they will continue to perpetuate intergenerational cycles of disadvantage and inequality.

“Life by life, missed opportunity by missed opportunity, we are increasing the gap between the haves and the have-nots and undermining our long-term strength and stability,” said Lake.

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According to the report, Early Moments Matter for Every Child, two years of free pre-primary education, paid breastfeeding breaks during the first six months of a child’s life followed by six months of paid maternity leave as well as four weeks of paid paternity leave help lay a critical foundation for optimal early childhood development.

“These policies help parents better protect their children and provide them with better nutrition, play and early learning experiences in the crucial first years of life when the brain grows at a rate never to be repeated,” said the report.

Among the countries, which do not have any of the child or parent related policies are Algeria, Barbados, Bhutan, Brunei, Gambia and Kenya.

The report also highlights that millions of children under five years are spending their formative years in unsafe, unstimulating environments.

“Around 75 million children under-five live in areas affected by conflict, increasing their risk of toxic stress, which can inhibit brain cell connections in early childhood,” the report said.

“Globally, poor nutrition, unhealthy environments and disease have left 155 million children under five stunted, which robs their bodies and brains from developing to their full potential.”

It also mentioned that a quarter of all children between the ages of two and four years in 64 countries do not take part in activities essential for brain development such as playing, reading and singing.

“Around 300 million children globally live in areas where the air is toxic, which emerging research shows can damage children’s developing brains,” it said and added that the failure to protect and provide the most disadvantaged children with early development opportunities undermines potential growth of whole societies and economies. (IANS)

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Breast Milk Boosts Brain Development in Premature Babies

For the study, the team analysed MRI brain scans of a small number of babies

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Breastmilk
Breastmilk aids in combatting diseases in Newborns. Pixabay.

Premature babies fed with breast milk are more likely to have better brain development than those fed on formula milk, a new study has found.

According to studies, pre-term birth is associated with changes in the part of the brain’s structure that helps brain cells to communicate with one another, known as white matter.

However, this research showed that pre-term babies who exclusively received breast milk for at least three-quarters of the days spent in hospital showed improved brain connectivity, compared to babies who consumed less.

“Our findings suggest that brain development in the weeks after pre-term birth is improved in babies who receive greater amounts of breast milk,” said James Boardman, Director of the Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory at the University of Edinburgh.

“The study highlights the need for more research to understand the role of early life nutrition for improving long-term outcomes for pre-term babies, he added.

Premature birth is associated with the possibilities of an increased risk of the decline of cognitive skills in later life, which are thought to be linked to alterations in brain development.

Breast Milk
Breast milk may help boost preemies’ brain development. Pixabay

Helping mothers to provide breast milk in the weeks after giving birth could improve long-term outcomes for children born pre-term, the researchers noted, in the paper published in the journal NeuroImage.

“Mothers of pre-term babies should be supported to provide breast milk while their baby is in neonatal care — if they are able to and if their baby is well enough to receive milk — because this may give their children the best chance of healthy brain development,” Boardman said.

For the study, the team analysed MRI brain scans of a small number of babies.

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The babies were born before 33 weeks gestation and scans took place when they reached term-equivalent age, an average of 40 weeks from conception.

The effects were greatest in babies who were fed breast milk for a greater proportion of their time spent in intensive care. (IANS)