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1.  Oral cleft prevention program (OCPP) 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:184.
Background
Oral clefts are one of the most common birth defects with significant medical, psychosocial, and economic ramifications. Oral clefts have a complex etiology with genetic and environmental risk factors. There are suggestive results for decreased risks of cleft occurrence and recurrence with folic acid supplements taken at preconception and during pregnancy with a stronger evidence for higher than lower doses in preventing recurrence. Yet previous studies have suffered from considerable design limitations particularly non-randomization into treatment. There is also well-documented effectiveness for folic acid in preventing neural tube defect occurrence at 0.4 mg and recurrence with 4 mg. Given the substantial burden of clefting on the individual and the family and the supportive data for the effectiveness of folic acid supplementation as well as its low cost, a randomized clinical trial of the effectiveness of high versus low dose folic acid for prevention of cleft recurrence is warranted.
Methods/design
This study will assess the effect of 4 mg and 0.4 mg doses of folic acid, taken on a daily basis during preconception and up to 3 months of pregnancy by women who are at risk of having a child with nonsyndromic cleft lip with/without palate (NSCL/P), on the recurrence of NSCL/P. The total sample will include about 6,000 women (that either have NSCL/P or that have at least one child with NSCL/P) randomly assigned to the 4 mg and the 0.4 mg folic acid study groups. The study will also compare the recurrence rates of NSCL/P in the total sample of subjects, as well as the two study groups (4mg, 0.4 mg) to that of a historical control group.
The study has been approved by IRBs (ethics committees) of all involved sites. Results will be disseminated through publications and presentations at scientific meetings.
Discussion
The costs related to oral clefts are high, including long term psychological and socio-economic effects. This study provides an opportunity for huge savings in not only money but the overall quality of life. This may help establish more specific clinical guidelines for oral cleft prevention so that the intervention can be better tailored for at-risk women.
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier
NCT00397917
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-12-184
PMCID: PMC3532199  PMID: 23181832
Oral clefts; Cleft lip; Cleft palate; Craniofacial anomalies; Congenital anomalies; Birth defects; Folic acid; Vitamins; Prevention
2.  The effect of systematic pediatric care on neonatal mortality and hospitalizations of infants born with oral clefts 
BMC Pediatrics  2011;11:121.
Background
Cleft lip and/or palate (CL/P) increase mortality and morbidity risks for affected infants especially in less developed countries. This study aimed at assessing the effects of systematic pediatric care on neonatal mortality and hospitalizations of infants with cleft lip and/or palate (CL/P) in South America.
Methods
The intervention group included live-born infants with isolated or associated CL/P in 47 hospitals between 2003 and 2005. The control group included live-born infants with CL/P between 2001 and 2002 in the same hospitals. The intervention group received systematic pediatric care between the 7th and 28th day of life. The primary outcomes were mortality between the 7th and 28th day of life and hospitalization days in this period among survivors adjusted for relevant baseline covariates.
Results
There were no significant mortality differences between the intervention and control groups. However, surviving infants with associated CL/P in the intervention group had fewer hospitalization days by about six days compared to the associated control group.
Conclusions
Early systematic pediatric care may significantly reduce neonatal hospitalizations of infants with CL/P and additional birth defects in South America. Given the large healthcare and financial burden of CL/P on affected families and the relatively low cost of systematic pediatric care, improving access to such care may be a cost-effective public policy intervention.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00097149
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-11-121
PMCID: PMC3277464  PMID: 22204448
3.  Complementary feeding: a Global Network cluster randomized controlled trial 
BMC Pediatrics  2011;11:4.
Background
Inadequate and inappropriate complementary feeding are major factors contributing to excess morbidity and mortality in young children in low resource settings. Animal source foods in particular are cited as essential to achieve micronutrient requirements. The efficacy of the recommendation for regular meat consumption, however, has not been systematically evaluated.
Methods/Design
A cluster randomized efficacy trial was designed to test the hypothesis that 12 months of daily intake of beef added as a complementary food would result in greater linear growth velocity than a micronutrient fortified equi-caloric rice-soy cereal supplement. The study is being conducted in 4 sites of the Global Network for Women's and Children's Health Research located in Guatemala, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Zambia in communities with toddler stunting rates of at least 20%. Five clusters per country were randomized to each of the food arms, with 30 infants in each cluster. The daily meat or cereal supplement was delivered to the home by community coordinators, starting when the infants were 6 months of age and continuing through 18 months. All participating mothers received nutrition education messages to enhance complementary feeding practices delivered by study coordinators and through posters at the local health center. Outcome measures, obtained at 6, 9, 12, and 18 months by a separate assessment team, included anthropometry; dietary variety and diversity scores; biomarkers of iron, zinc and Vitamin B12 status (18 months); neurocognitive development (12 and 18 months); and incidence of infectious morbidity throughout the trial. The trial was supervised by a trial steering committee, and an independent data monitoring committee provided oversight for the safety and conduct of the trial.
Discussion
Findings from this trial will test the efficacy of daily intake of meat commencing at age 6 months and, if beneficial, will provide a strong rationale for global efforts to enhance local supplies of meat as a complementary food for young children.
Trial registration
NCT01084109
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-11-4
PMCID: PMC3032692  PMID: 21232139
4.  Description of the methodology used in an ongoing pediatric care interventional study of children born with cleft lip and palate in South America [NCT00097149] 
BMC Pediatrics  2006;6:9.
Background
The contribution of birth defects, including cleft lip and palate, to neonatal and infant mortality and morbidity is substantial. As other mortality and morbidity causes including infections, hygiene, prematurity, and nutrition are eradicated in less developed countries, the burden of birth defects will increase proportionally.
Methods/Design
We are using cleft lip and palate as a sentinel birth defect to evaluate its burden on neonatal and infant health and to assess the effectiveness of systematic pediatric care during the first month and first two years of life in decreasing this burden. The neonatal intervention, consisting of weekly pediatric evaluation and referral to appropriate care, is delivered to about 696 infants born with cleft lip and/or palate in 47 hospitals in South America. Neonatal mortality in this group will be compared to that in a retrospective control group of about 464 infants born with cleft lip and/or palate in the same hospitals. The subgroup of infants with isolated clefts of both the lip and palate (about 264) is also randomized into two groups, intervened and non-intervened, and further followed up over 2 years. Intervened cases are evaluated by pediatricians every three months and referred for appropriate care. The intervened and non-intervened cases will be compared over study outcomes to evaluate the intervention effectiveness. Non-intervened cases are matched and compared to healthy controls to assess the burden of cleft lip and palate. Outcomes include child's neurological and physical development and family social and economic conditions.
Discussion
Large-scale clinical trials to improve infant health in developing countries are commonly suggested, making it important to share the methods used in ongoing studies with other investigators implementing similar research. We describe here the content of our ongoing pediatric care study in South America. We hope that this may help researchers targeting this area to plan their studies more effectively and encourage the development of similar research efforts to target other birth defects or infant outcomes such as prematurity and low birth weight.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-6-9
PMCID: PMC1552061  PMID: 16563165

Results 1-4 (4)