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QLD: 'Pea Pod' machine will benefit premature babies

24 October, 2007

Health authorities hope a new machine known as the Pea Pod will help premature babies get a better start in life.

The Australian-first machine, launched at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital (RBWH) on Wednesday, measures the body composition of premature and young babies, helping to identify potential long-term illness.

RBWH researcher Professor Paul Colditz said babies would be measured by the Pea Pod at birth, six weeks and three months, which up until now had been done by length, weight and circumference measurements.

He said much better information could now be gathered on babies' growth and nutrition requirements to give them a better start to life.

"The Pea Pod's non-invasive, seven-minute scans allow accurate assessments of the babies' body fat and fat-free mass through air displacement plethysmography (ADP)," Prof Colditz said.

The hospital's perinatal research centre will also use the Pea Pod in its study of how a mother's obesity - a factor in one-in-three Australian births - affects the health of baby and mother.

And it will be used in a twin study which compares how genes and environment affect growth.

Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser, who unveiled the machine on Wednesday, said it was funded through a $200,000 Golden Casket Foundation grant.

"The new equipment and research now underway at RBWH has the potential to help thousands of families across Queensland," Fraser said.

Source: AAP NewsWire

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