Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A simple, inexpensive product is saving lives in Somalia...Why do the inventors of this product NOT have a Nobel Prize?

I learned something new today. It is one of those things that makes me wonder why the inventors of this product have not won an Nobel Prize.  At the minimum, they should be featured on "Oprah"!!!

The product is called "Plumpy'Nut" and it is an easy to administer, peanut base food, that is fed to extremely malnourished people.  It is playing a major role in the current human tragedy in Somalia. It is very inexpensive and easy to prepare and feed to children.  Apparently it actually tastes good too.

 Anderson Cooper interviewed someone about this product (he may have been a rep for the company, but I don't remember). Anderson asked him about the dangers for a child that might have a peanut allergy.  The person said something that really surprised me AND Anderson too: Peanut allergies are an issue in developed countries and not in under-developed, especially very poor ones.  I had never heard this before.  I could not find a definitive reason for this, but the "Hygiene Hypothesis" seemed to make sense to me, but I cannot vouch for its veracity:

""In medicine, the Hygiene Hypothesis states that a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents, symbiotic microorganisms (e.g., gut flora or probiotics), and parasites increases susceptibility to allergic diseases by suppressing natural development of the immune system.[1] The rise of autoimmune diseases and acute lymphoblastic leukemia in young people in the developed world has also been linked to the hygiene hypothesis...""

In other words, a high(er) level of hygiene makes us less immune to potential allergies of all types.

Whatever...This is a good lesson for students and how they can impact people with science and technology.  You may not be a "Do-Gooder" in the classic sense of helping people directly, but your research and development skills/knowledge may do more good than anything else.
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