Premature babies often catch up to peers in school: study

UNTV News   •   June 13, 2017   •   5043

FILE PHOTO – A nurse holds the hand of a premature baby, who was born at five months of pregnancy, at a hospital in Medellin, Colombia on August 20, 2014. REUTERS/Fredy Builes/File Photo

A study following more than 1.3 million premature babies born in Florida found that two-thirds of those born at only 23 or 24 weeks were ready for kindergarten on time, and almost 2 percent of those infants later achieved gifted status in school.

Such very prematurely born babies did score lower on standardized tests than full-term infants, but as the length of pregnancy increased, the differences in test scores became negligible, according to the study, conducted by Northwestern University and published on Monday in JAMA Pediatrics medical journal.

“What excites me about this study is that it changes the focus for the clinician and families at the bedside from just focusing on the medical outcomes of the child to what the future educational outcomes might be for a child born early,” Craig Garfield, the first author of the study and an associate professor of pediatrics and medial social sciences at Northwestern Medicine, said in a statement.

Researchers analyzed the school performance of 1.3 million infants born in Florida from 1992 to 2002 who had a fetal development term of 23 to 41 weeks and who later entered the state’s public schools between 1995 and 2012.

They found that babies born at between 23 and 24 weeks tended to have normal cognitive functions later in life, with 1.8 percent of them even achieving gifted status in school. During the time period the study covered, 9.5 percent of children statewide were considered gifted.

Premature birth happens when a baby is born before at least 37 weeks of pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A normal pregnancy term is around 40 weeks, and a preterm birth can lead to serious medical problems, underdevelopment in early childhood or death for the infant.

The study does not account for why these extremely premature infants later performed well in school, Garfield said in the statement, and did not look at whether their success could be related to extra support from family or schools, or the children’s biological make-up. — By Gina Cherelus

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus; editing by Patrick Enright and Lisa Shumaker)

US advises citizens vs traveling to PH due to COVID-19 situation

Maris Federez   •   April 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines –The United States (US) government has issued an advisory for its citizens to avoid travel to the Philippines due to a “high-level” of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for the Philippines due to COVID-19, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country,” the US Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) announced in its website.

The CA said that aside from COVID-19, crimes, terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping are among the reasons cited by the CDC in placing the Philippines on Level 4 advisory.

The bureau advises US citizens to exercise increased caution in going to the Philippines, and to “read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.”

“There are restrictions in place affecting U.S. citizen entry into the Philippines,” the CA said.

The Do Not Travel advisory specifically indicated the Sulu Archipelago, including the southern Sulu Sea, due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping; and Marawi City in Mindanao due to terrorism and civil unrest.

It also advised to Reconsider Travel to other areas of Mindanao due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping.

The State Department added that should US citizens decide to travel to the Philippines, they must visit the U.S. Embassy’s webpage regarding COVID-19, the CDC’s webpage on Travel and COVID-19, monitor local media for breaking events, and adjust their plans based on new information, and other follow other precautions specified.

Countries that were issued a Level 4 travel warning include Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, and Spain among others.  —/mbmf

CDC reverses earlier COVID-19 guidance that said asymptomatic people may not need testing

Maris Federez   •   September 19, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday (US Eastern Time) reversed its controversial coronavirus testing guidance that said people who were exposed to an infected person but weren’t showing any symptoms “do not necessarily need a test.”

The new guidance says that people who have been in close contact with an infected person and do not have symptoms “need a test.”

“Due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, this guidance further reinforces the need to test asymptomatic persons, including close contacts of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the CDC says.

The agency defines “close contact” as being within 6 feet of a person with a confirmed COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes.

The CDC guidance reversal followed criticisms from public health specialists on the agency’s change in testing guidance in August that seemed to downplay the significance of testing people who don’t have symptoms but could be spreading the virus.

The new guidance also advised people who are waiting for their test results to “self-quarantine/isolate at home and stay separated from household members to the extent possible and use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available.”

The CDC also reiterated its recommendations to follow “measures to mitigate the spread of the virus and to protect people at increased risk of severe illness:  social distancing, wearing a mask when social distancing is not possible, avoiding crowds, avoiding indoor crowded spaces, and washing or sanitizing hands frequently.” —/mbmf

U.S. health officials announce second case of person-to-person coronavirus transmission

UNTV News   •   February 4, 2020

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention on Monday (February 3) announced another five confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus from China, including a second case of transmission within the United States, as the country works to try to limit the outbreak.

“We expect to see more cases of person-to-person spread,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a conference call with reporters.

The new cases include one in Massachusetts and four more in California. Four of the five patients had recently traveled to Wuhan in central China, where the outbreak originated.

One of the patients in California was a close household contact of a person who was infected in China. It marked the second instance of person-to-person spread of the virus in the United States after such a case was announced last week in Illinois.

The new coronavirus cases bring the total of U.S. cases confirmed by the CDC to 11. The agency said it is currently monitoring 82 people for potential infection with the virus.

Messonnier said the U.S. Department of State is bringing more of its citizens back from Wuhan. She said the CDC over the weekend sent additional teams to specific locations where the planes will arrive.

The passengers will be put under quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, she said. (Reuters)

(Production: Catherine Koppel)

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