Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Vitamin deficiency screening needed for refugees

New research from the University of Adelaide has discovered a high prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency among refugees, prompting calls for refugees to be routinely screened for the problem soon after they arrive.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is a sign of severe malnourishment and can result in permanent damage to the nervous system. For women of child-bearing age, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to developmental defects in their unborn children. If left untreated, the deficiency could be fatal.

In the first study of its kind in the world, researchers from the University of Adelaide's School of Population Health studied more than 900 newly arrived refugees in Australia and found that 16.5% had vitamin B12 deficiency.

As many as one third of the refugees tested from Iran and Bhutan, and one quarter of those from Afghanistan, suffered from the deficiency.

The results of this study – which have implications for other countries such as the United States and Canada – are now published online in the international journal PLOS ONE.

"Vitamin B12 deficiency is a serious problem," says study leader Dr Jill Benson AM, Director of the Health in Human Diversity Unit at the University of Adelaide.

"Although we were expecting to find a reasonable number of vitamin B12 deficiency cases in this study, we were not expecting to see such a significant problem.

"You would not expect to see this kind of deficiency occurring in the population of a typical Western nation. What we're dealing with here is a highly vulnerable population, people who come from countries that experience extreme food security issues, and therefore they suffer from a wide range of medical conditions.

"Screening for vitamin B12 is not currently part of the standard health check for refugees entering Australia, but based on the results of our study, we firmly believe this screening should occur," Dr Benson says.

"With the United States, Canada and Australia being the three biggest nations receiving refugees from the same source countries, it stands to reason that this health problem will also be strongly prevalent among refugees in North America.

"Health authorities in each of these countries should consider providing specialized health services to refugees on arrival and in the months following their arrival," she says.

Dr Benson says general practitioners also require specialist training in refugee health. "Because of the wide variety of health conditions they might bring from their countries of origin, refugees require a much broader spectrum of health investigation than GPs may be used to," she says.

The results of this study will also be discussed at the North American Refugee Health Conference in Toronto in June. Clinicians involved in the Refugee Health Network of Australia collaborated on this research.

Dr Jill Benson
Director, Health in Human Diversity Unit
School of Population Health
The University of Adelaide
Phone: +61 8 8313 6277

Dr. Jill Benson | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Inflammation Triggers Unsustainable Immune Response to Chronic Viral Infection
24.10.2016 | Universität Basel

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Enormous dome in central Andes driven by huge magma body beneath it

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Deep down fracking wells, microbial communities thrive

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>