Influenza in Suzhou China
Steven Black, MD, and Mark Steinhoff, MD, evaluated the epidemiology of laboratory-proven influenza hospitalizations in children in the People's Republic of China, collaborating with colleagues at the Suzhou Children's Hospital near Shanghai, and Fudan University in Shanghai. They show that during a two year period, influenza occurred throughout the year with peaks in the winter and in August/September, and was a significant cause of childhood hospitalization. This is one of the first population-based studies of influenza disease in children in the People's Republic of China, and has prompted further studies of the burden of vaccine preventable influenza in Chinese children.
Influenza Vaccine Trial in Bangladesh
Steinhoff and colleagues in Bangladesh evaluated the effects of antenatal influenza vaccine on fetal growth. A secondary analysis of data from a randomized prospective trial showed that there was a substantial increase of 200g in mean birth weights among infants who were born to mothers who received the influenza vaccine, a new finding regarding the effects of influenza in pregnancy. They also showed that the proportion of infants who were small for gestational age was decreased in infants of immunized mothers, from 44.8 percent to 25.9 percent, which is a significant 42 percent reduction. These new findings provide information useful for pregnant women.
Vitamin D in the Middle East
Adekunle Dawodu. MBBS, MRCP, carried out an interesting practical assessment of the effect of sunlight exposure on vitamin D status in Middle Eastern women, who are known to have relatively low serum vitamin D levels, despite abundant sunlight, related to cultural norms. He arranged for volunteers to expose in a culturally acceptable manner the face, arms and hands to direct sunlight for 15 minutes a day, twice a week, for four weeks. In comparison to women who did not have this sun exposure, the mean serum vitamin D levels increase by 31 percent, a statistically significant increase. These data suggest that specific culturally appropriate sun exposure can improve vitamin D status.