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Indian scientists unlock preterm birth mystery

Indian researchers have made a major discovery by understanding the mechanisms by which preterm births (between 28 and 32 weeks of gestation) occur.

Normally, a pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, but in case of preterm births has gestation between 28 and 32 weeks. India with 35% accounts for the highest burden of preterm births in the world.

What researchers have found?

  • For the first, Indian researchers have found that gram-positive Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria that produce small balloons called membrane vesicles.
  • These small balloons contain toxins that kill both foetal and maternal cells and destroy the collagen that binds the cells together.
  • The GBS bacteria normally are found in human vagina and their numbers can shoot up in some pregnant women. They are associated with premature rupture of amniotic membrane and preterm birth.

Test on pregnant mice

  • The team tested its hypothesis by injecting vesicles into 15 pregnant mice. All the injected mice gave birth to preterm babies and nearly 40% were born dead (stillborn).
  • In mice, the babies were born two days preterm. The preterm babies were much smaller and unhealthy. This is equivalent to two months in humans as the gestation period in mice is 21 days.

Why do preterm babies need special care?

  • Preterm babies are not fully prepared to live outside their mother’s womb. They get cold more easily and may need more help feeding than full-term babies.
  • Their bodies are not fully developed and they may have problems breathing and can also suffer from other complications including infections.

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WHO declares Sri Lanka malaria-free

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has officially declared Sri Lanka a malaria-free, after certifying that the life-threatening disease had been completely eliminated in the island.

With this, Sri Lanka became second country in the South-East Asia Region declared as malaria after Maldives by the WHO.

Key Facts

  • The announcement in this regard was made at the 69th Session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia Region held in Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka.
  • Besides, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and the Ministry of Public Health of South Korea were conferred the ‘Excellence in Public Health’ awards for “their remarkable and sustained role in the public health gains” of their countries by the WHO South-East Asia Region.
  • Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease most commonly transmitted by an infected female Anopheles mosquito.
  • It caused by parasitic protozoans (a group of single-celled microorganisms) belonging to the Plasmodium type.

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13 Indians test positive for Zika Virus in Singapore

The Union External Affairs Ministry has officially confirmed that 13 Indians have been tested positive for the Zika virus in Singapore

These cases of outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease have been reported among the three dozen workers on a construction site in Singapore.

Meanwhile, Singapore also has confirmed its first case of a pregnant woman testing positive for the Zika virus infection. The number of cases of the Zika virus in the city-state has rose to 115. It should be noted that Asia’s first  Zika virus was reported in Singapore.

About Zika Virus

  • Zika virus is vector borne disease transmitted primarily by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
  • The virus is capable of causing serious birth defects i.e. neurological disorders and foetal deformation known as Microcephaly in which infants are born with abnormally smaller heads.
  • Besides a possible link between the virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS: a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the nervous system) is also suspected.

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