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Community & Business

25 July, 2021

Infant feeding research

University of Western Sydney (UWS) medical students are investigating the feeding practices of infants in Western NSW.

By Emily Middleton

Photo via unsplash

Under the guidance of Bathurst Base Hospital paediatrician, Doctor Chandima De Alwis, the group hopes to learn more about the feeding practices of infants in rural communities. Student Charmie Fong said the group had been unable to find research specifically focused on rural families until now.

“In 2018 the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy released an updated version of the infant feeding guidelines, however there wasn’t any information specific to rural areas.”

According to the research, following infant feeding guidelines can be useful in preventing allergies.

“In other aspects of health there’s often a difference and discrepancies [between metro and regional areas] and if we can figure out what they are we can better address them,” said Ms Fong.

“We’re also trying to raise awareness of these guidelines in different communities.”

The data is being collected via online survey, with Ms Fong saying the research team had hoped to have more face-to-face interaction with communities but COVID-19 restrictions meant they were unable to. The questionnaire takes just 15 minutes to complete and Ms Fong said she was hopeful their data analysis would bring forward useful information.

“For example, we want to figure out how we can raise awareness of the existing guidelines. Or maybe there are some things in the guidelines that could be changed in the future.”

The research team consists of Ms Fong, Andrew Wallace, Jessica Cesca, and Gianni Rossi, who are all fourth-year students in the UWS Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery. The research study is being undertaken as part of the groups fourth year placement and assessment.

To be eligible to participate in the study respondents must be aged 18 or over, living in Western NSW, and either currently pregnant or have had a child during or after July 2018.

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