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Sniffing out NEC

Hyperion has seen press reports about dogs being trained to sniff for cancers. Now a Cyranose 320 eNose (Smiths Detections, Pasadena, California) has been used to discriminate cases of necrotising enterocolitis from cases of septicaemia, and control babies (de Meij et al, J Pediatr 2015;167:562–7). What the eNose does is to detect a large number of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced by the gut microbiota to provide an e-olfactory ‘fingerprint’; what the authors did was to analyse these fingerprints blind to the clinical condition of the babies. They demonstrated that the patterns of VOC detected differed between each condition to a sufficient degree that there might be clinical utility in developing the sniffer as a cot-side test. We are many studies away from adopting such technology, but at least this is proof of principle.

Early systemic steroids are still bad for babies …

For some time it has been clear that giving glucocorticoids early to preterm babies with respiratory distress to try to prevent bronchopulmonary dysplasia results in extra babies with cerebral palsy later on. But does hydrocortisone have the same problem when used in low dose as a …

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