Photo from

Since pregnancy is such a delicate period, double protection should be given not only to what the child eats, but also to what he is exposed to as babies exposed to pesticides while in the womb are at risk of developing poor motor abilities at the age of two, study said.

A total of 696 mothers and newborns at Bulacan Provincial Hospital (BPH) outpatient department were tested for exposure to pesticides since use of pesticides is common in Bulacan, being an agro-industrial province in the Philippines.

Most of mothers and infants were found to be exposed to pesticides with propoxur. Propoxur is used for controlling cockroaches, flies, and mosquitos as well as for agricultural purposes. Researchers also attributed the exposure to propoxur to the high prevalence of flies and mosquitoes in the study site.

After babies were followed up in two years, those with prenatal exposure to pesticide were associated with poorer motor development. The study explained that the effect of prenatal exposure was more evident in motor because it is one of the first functions to develop in children. Also, prenatal exposure poses high risk to children because it is during the pregnancy that brain growth and development are at highest rate of vulnerability.

“Although the recognizable effects of maternal exposure to low doses of environmental pesticides are minimal, serious concerns have been raised about their adverse effects on the fetus, particularly on subsequent neurodevelopmental, learning and behavioral difficulties in the children,” researchers emphasized.

The study was a collaboration of Wayne State University (WSU), University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UPM-NIH), and Davao Regional Hospital (DRH), and was published online at

Photo from

With rapid progress on technology, internet has been within reach. A lot of stores and areas offer free wi-fi. Even phones and tablets have built-in wi-fi. As internet becomes accessible, more and more people join social networking site, particularly Facebook.

Facebook has been the world’s biggest social networking site with more than one billion users, which allows its users to have public profiles and connect with one another by posting information and messages.  In the Philippines, there are more than 27,700,000 Facebook users, mostly18-24 years old, according to the 2012 data of SocialBakers (a social media analyst company).

Though Facebook is intended for personal interest, some organizations now utilize it for marketing their products and services, or raising people’s awareness.  True enough, disseminating food and nutrition information through Facebook improves nutrition knowledge of college students, according to an undergraduate study of Manila Tytana College.

Student researchers created a Facebook page, NUTRI-CLICK, where three lessons were disseminated: nutrition, fruits, and vegetables. Nutrition experts and panel members validated these lessons before uploading it to the page. Comparing the pre-test and post-test results, college students’ knowledge improved from satisfactory to excellent level.

Researchers proposed to utilize online nutrition education program as a way to communicate health information and hopefully, make an impact on communities.

The study won 1st place in nutrition and dietetics category at 39th Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) Undergraduate Research Paper Competition held last July 2013, which was sponsored by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD).

Gumamela is not just a blossom of beauty but a possible ingredient for good health.

A study conducted by Davao Medical School Foundation revealed that Gumamela flower (Hibiscus rosa-sinensisis) contains ingredients that maybe used to prevent cancer, by inhibiting mutation of cancer cells in human body.

Cancer is a result of genetic mutation when our bodies exposed to carcinogens (cancer causing substances). A single abnormal cell will grow, leading to multiple mutations to form tumors. Tumor cells eventually invade and destroy normal cells.

In the laboratory experiments (Modified Ames Salmonella Assay), the researchers tested the anti-mutagenic properties or the ability to control mutation of gumamela flower extracts to the growth of mutant salmonella bacteria.  They compared effects to Mytomycin C, a standard mutagen (positive control) and mineral water as negative control.

Results showed that gumamela extracts significantly decreased the growth (mutation) of salmonella compare to Mytomycin C and mineral water. In fact, the study highlighted that even with the presence of mutagen (agent that promotes mutation), gumamela extracts have successfully halted the bacteria’s growth in most of the trials conducted.

According to the study, these effects maybe attributed to the active ingredients in gumamela such as flavanoids and proanthocyanins, the phytochemical components that act as powerful antioxidants and free radical scavengers. Proanthocyanins trap hydroxyl, lipid peroxides and other damaging free radicals and stimulate cells to produce detoxifying enzymes. Meanwhile, flavanoid is one of the few free radical scavengers that protect the body against fat and water soluble free radicals.

With these findings, researchers claimed that gumamela is a potential natural resource that can prevent the development of cancer cell in human body.

The study was funded by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) through its Regional Research Fund in Region 11.


The University of the Philippines Manila will produce the first-ever genetic counsellors in the Philippines after establishing Master’s Degree Program in Genetic Counselling in 2011.

Dr. Carmencita Padilla, the Director of Newborn Screening Reference Center – National Institutes of Health, and Mercy Laurino, a genetic counsellor from the University of Washington, collaborated in developing the Philippines’ first genetic counselling program. Ms. Laurino, an awardee of the Balik Scientist Program (BSP) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), shared the importance of genetic counselling to health professionals in the country.

In her presentation during the 6th International Conference on Birth Defects and Disabilities in the Developing World (ICBD), she described genetic counsellors as “health professionals with specialized graduate degree and experience in areas of medical genetics and counselling”. They help identify families at risk of birth defects and explain its reasons.  In prenatal setting, mothers will be informed if their babies might have a birth defect so they could make informed decisions and develop family coping skills.

Ms. Laurino affirmed that genetic counselling program would increase the appreciation of genetic counselling as part of clinical medical genetics service, offer genetic education to patients and members of the family, refer patients and families to community and/or local government support services, and develop policies and practice guidelines to implement genetic counselling clinical services programs.

“It serves as a model on how to successfully develop and implement similar genetic counselling training programs in other developing countries,” Ms. Laurino emphasized.

Medical service at home is one of the top needs of elderly in indigenous people communities in South Cotobato, Sarangani, and General Santos City, based on a study entitled, “Health and Lifestyle of Moro and Indigenous Aged People in SoCSarGen”.

Aside from having frail bodies, elderly often live in far-flung areas. Community clinics, however, are available in the region but far from the indigenous people’s (IP) homes.

Some elderly are also relying on herbal medicines instead of calling physicians for medical assistance due to its cost. In fact, surveys revealed that 66% of indigenous people have family income of less than P 5,000 per month, which could be the possible cause of not availing health services. Twenty percent of the respondents had not seen a medical doctor in their lifetime.

Addressing these increasing concerns on IP’s health as part of universal healthcare (UHC) strategy, the Department of Health (DOH) signed the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2013-01 or “Guidelines on the Delivery of Basic Health Services for Indigenous Peoples/Indigenous Cultural Communities (IPs/ICCs)” in June 2013 together with the National Center for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). The circular addresses concerns on access, utilization, coverage and equity on basic healthcare services of IPs.

The study was funded by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) under the Department of Science and Technology in cooperation with Mindanao State University (MSU) in General Santos City.