Odia scientist in US finds cheapest treatment to prevent sepsis in newborns
Bhubaneswar: An Odia pediatrician in the US has achieved a feat in an area of medical science not many researchers had been successful in. Dr Pinaki Panigrahi has hogged headlines in America by discovering an inexpensive method of treatment to prevent Sepsis- a deadly infection that kills around 60,000 kids every year.
As reported in NPR (National Public Radio- an American privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization), Panigrahi had been heading a research on the subject for the last 20 years to find out the probiotic bacteria, common in kimchi, pickles and other fermented vegetables, that could be a life saving solution to this medical problem in newborns.
An alumnus of BJB College, Bhubaneswar and MKCG Medical College, Berhampur, Panigrahi is currently working as a pediatrician at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health.
Sepsis, a top killer of newborns affects 600,000 babies worldwide every year.
Quoting the Odia doctor, the NPR reported, once a baby is affected, all of a sudden it stops being active – crying and breastfeeding. The growth of the sepsis germs is so fast, by the time the baby is brought to the hospital, he or she dies. “In hospitals in India, you see so many babies dying of sepsis, it breaks your heart,” Panigrahi said.
“Methodically, we screened more than 280 strains in preliminary animal and human studies,” Panigrahi adds.
In the end, the team of doctors found a strain of Lactobacillus plantarum isolated from the diaper of a healthy Indian baby and decided to move forward with a large-scale study comprising thousands of babies in rural India. To their astonishment, the bacteria worked well beyond imagination, the report cited.
The finding further stated that babies who ate the microbes for a week — along with some sugars to feed the microbes — had a dramatic reduction in risk of death and sepsis. They dropped by 40 percent, from 9 percent to 5.4 percent.
But that’s not all. The probiotic also warded off several other types of infections, including those in the lungs. Respiratory infections dropped by about 30 percent.
The treatment worked so well that the safety board for trial stopped the study early. “We were planning to enroll 8,000 babies, but stopped at just over 4,000 infants,” Panigrahi further stated to NPR.
Panigrahi estimates a course of the probiotic costs about $1 per baby. “It can be manufactured in a very simple setting which makes it cheaper,” Panigrahi said.