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Nuclear techniques help study of infant malnutrition
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The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) began to hold a three-day meeting in its headquarters here on Monday with the main topic of the use of nuclear techniques in the study of human nutrition during pregnancy and early life.

The meeting with the main topic of "Nuclear Techniques in Human Nutrition; Body Composition from Conception through Infancy" will look at ways to identify and tackle infant malnutrition, an affliction that can have serious health consequences later in life, according to the press release issued by the IAEA on Monday.

Nutrition problems experienced during pregnancy and early life can bring about later chronic diseases, and the parameter indicating the nutritional status and well-being of babies can be measured through nuclear techniques, said Lena Davidsson, head of the IAEA's Nutritional and Health-Related Environmental Studies Section and conference chair.

A dose of labeled water, in which the hydrogen component is labeled with a non-radioactive isotope, is given to the baby and allowed to be absorbed gradually in the body for a few hours. The extent of the dilution of the isotope tracer in body water can be measured and calculated so as to quantify the body composition of babies, which is an important tool to maintain the quality of growth during the first two years of life.

This represents a "window of opportunity" during which it is possible to intervene with appropriate measures and counteract the likely development of later diseases, noted Davidsson.

Participants at the IAEA meeting will aim to establish priority areas in research and technical development as well as address the issue of infant malnutrition through development projects.

(Xinhua News Agency September 16, 2008)

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