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Tel Aviv University gives preemies a fighting chance
Date:12/4/2007

When a child is born premature and more than one in ten infants in the U.S. is its future is already compromised. One of the common problems associated with premature births is brittle bones, or osteopenia of prematurity (OOP). It can cause bone fractures and rickets in the infant, and osteoporosis later in life.

Tel Aviv University pediatric physicians are championing a training program that aims to make preemies bones stronger. Dr. Dan Nemet and his partner Dr. Alon Eliakim, both associate professors of the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, have developed a proven protocol to prevent OPP.

Says co-researcher Dr. Dan Nemet, About 12% of all births in the United States today are premature. Its unfortunate because its in the last trimester when bones grow the most. More than 30% of preemies born before 30 weeks have some degree of OOP, but wont have any physical symptoms. Its critical to treat it before any symptoms are found.

In the last trimester of pregnancy, mothers transfer large amounts of calcium and phosphorus to the rapidly growing baby. It is also the time when babies exercise acquire muscle and strengthen bones in the womb. And when a child is born early, its physical activity is limited in the incubator. All of these factors contribute to OPP.

The researchers have shown that gentle exercises performed five times a day on the wrist, elbow, shoulder, ankle, knee, and hip joints (approximately 10 minutes for each session), and administered five times per week for four weeks, improved bone strength in preemies as measured using bone ultrasound. Daily interactive periods of holding and stroking the infant also influences bone growth and development, they conclude.

Weve had positive and encouraging results, says Dr. Nemet. The preemies are definitely gaining more bone mass, their bones are growing stronger and subsequently the babies are gaining more weight. We can assume it means that the p
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert

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