Sepsis is a top killer of newborns worldwide. Each year more than 600,000 babies die of the blood infections, which can strike very quickly.
“All the sudden the baby stops being active. It stops crying and breastfeeding,” says Dr. Pinaki Panigrahi, a pediatrician at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health, who led the study.
“By the time the mother has a chance to bring the baby to the hospital, the baby dies,” he says. “In hospitals in India, you see so many babies dying of sepsis, it breaks your heart.”
For the past 20 years, Dr. Pinaki Panigrahi has been working on a way to prevent sepsis. Scientists in the U.S. and India have found the inexpensive treatment that could possibly save hundreds of thousands of newborns each year.
And it turns out, the secret weapon was sitting in Asian kitchens all along: probiotic bacteria that are common in kimchi, pickles and other fermented vegetables. Feeding babies the microbes dramatically reduces the risk newborns will develop sepsis, scientists report Wednesday in the journal Nature.
Dr. Pinaki Panigrahi finished his education from BJB College (Bhubaneswar) and MKCG Medical College (Berhampur). Now he is Professor at Department of Epidemiology, and Pediatrics, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health.