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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Health Update

Air Date: Week of

Diane Toomey reports on a study done in Africa where researchers have discovered why malaria is a significant threat to the health of newborns.


TOOMEY: In Africa, malaria remains a big cause of low birth weight and death for newborns. Now a small study may explain why. British scientists working in the West African nation of Gambia found that pregnant women attract twice as many malaria-carrying mosquitos as their non-pregnant counterparts. In the experiment, women slept alone under netting in identical huts. In the morning, researchers collected the mosquitos that had accumulated. In Africa there's one species of mosquito known to be the predominant carrier of malaria, and researchers found twice as many of this kind of mosquito in the huts of the pregnant women. The researchers also found that pregnant women give off about 20 percent more breath and have a higher body temperature, and they suspect mosquitos use those chemical signals to hone in on their targets. Now, scientists say they can continue to work on repellents that block those chemical cues. And that's this week's health update. I'm Diane Toomey.



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