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Association between breastfeeding and intelligence, educational attainment, and income at 30 years of age: a prospective birth cohort study from Brazil

March 22, 2015 Comments off

Association between breastfeeding and intelligence, educational attainment, and income at 30 years of age: a prospective birth cohort study from Brazil (PDF)
Source: The Lancet

Background
Breastfeeding has clear short-term benefi ts, but its long-term consequences on human capital are yet to be established. We aimed to assess whether breastfeeding duration was associated with intelligence quotient (IQ), years of schooling, and income at the age of 30 years, in a setting where no strong social patterning of breastfeeding exists.

Methods
A prospective, population-based birth cohort study of neonates was launched in 1982 in Pelotas, Brazil. Information about breastfeeding was recorded in early childhood. At 30 years of age, we studied the IQ (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, 3rd version), educational attainment, and income of the participants. For the analyses, we used multiple linear regression with adjustment for ten confounding variables and the G-formula.

Findings
From June 4, 2012, to Feb 28, 2013, of the 5914 neonates enrolled, information about IQ and breastfeeding duration was available for 3493 participants. In the crude and adjusted analyses, the durations of total breastfeeding and predominant breastfeeding (breastfeeding as the main form of nutrition with some other foods) were positively associated with IQ, educational attainment, and income. We identified dose-response associations with breastfeeding duration for IQ and educational attainment. In the confounder-adjusted analysis, participants who were breastfed for 12 months or more had higher IQ scores (diff erence of 3·76 points, 95% CI 2·20–5·33), more years of education (0·91 years, 0·42–1·40), and higher monthly incomes (341·0 Brazilian reals, 93·8–588·3) than did those who were breastfed for less than 1 month. The results of our mediation analysis suggested that IQ was responsible for 72% of the effect on income.

Interpretation
Breastfeeding is associated with improved performance in intelligence tests 30 years later, and might have an important eff ect in real life, by increasing educational attainment and income in adulthood.

Funding
Wellcome Trust, International Development Research Center (Canada), CNPq, FAPERGS, and the Brazilian Ministry of Health

Country Analysis Brief: Ecuador

March 19, 2015 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Ecuador
Source: Energy Information Administration

In Ecuador, the oil sector accounts for more than half of the country’s export earnings and approximately two-fifths of public sector revenues.1 Resource nationalism and debates about the economic, strategic, and environmental implications of oil sector development are prominent issues in the politics of Ecuador and the policies of its government. Ecuador is the smallest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and it produced 556,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) of petroleum and other liquids in 2014, of which crude oil production was 555,000 bbl/d. A lack of sufficient domestic refining capacity to meet local demand has forced Ecuador to import refined products, limiting net oil revenue.

Building Skills in North and Central America: Barriers and Policy Options toward Harmonizing Qualifications in Nursing

March 16, 2015 Comments off

Building Skills in North and Central America: Barriers and Policy Options toward Harmonizing Qualifications in Nursing
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Amid aging populations and the growth of chronic diseases, the demand for skilled health-care professionals is on the rise in the three countries of North America. In the United States alone, an estimated 5.6 million vacancies for health-care professionals at all skill levels will open up between 2010 and 2020, and the numbers in Canada and Mexico tell a similar story. At the same time, the countries of Central America, particularly El Salvador and Guatemala, are facing a critical nurse shortage.

Thus far, regional approaches to increasing the supply of qualified nurses have been rare. One promising yet underexplored avenue is the harmonization of nurse qualifications across the region, a process by which countries that face similar health-care challenges work together to develop an understanding of one another’s training and education systems, identify gaps between these systems, and create strategies to bridge these gaps over time.

This report explores the policy implications, benefits, and challenges of harmonizing nursing qualifications in North America. The payoffs of such cooperation are substantial: it can decrease brain waste and deskilling among nurses, increase the quality of care in all countries involved, and expand opportunities for nurses to practice where their skills are needed and to take advantage of new job opportunities in medical tourism and tele-health. However, as the report discusses, policymakers and private-sector actors must first overcome a range of obstacles to harmonization. Challenges include differences among the countries involved in the educational requirements of entering into nursing programs, dispersal of decision-making power among a patchwork of institutions regulating the nursing profession, and administrative barriers to recognition of qualifications—the flurry of red tape that nurses must pass through to take up nursing again after moving across borders.

CRS — Cuba Sanctions: Legislative Restrictions Limiting the Normalization of Relations (February 13, 2015)

March 11, 2015 Comments off

Cuba Sanctions: Legislative Restrictions Limiting the Normalization of Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

In December 2014, President Obama announced major changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba, including the restoration of diplomatic relations (relations were severed in January 1961), a review by the Department of State of Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism (Cuba was designated in 1982), and an increase in travel, trade, and the free flow of information to Cuba. This third step required the Departments of Commerce and the Treasury to amend the embargo regulations, which were announced on January 15, 2015.

When the President announced his policy change on Cuba, he acknowledged that he does not have authority to lift the embargo because it is codified in legislation. While the embargo was first imposed in the early 1960s under the authority of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Trading with the Enemy Act, Congress enacted additional laws over the years that strengthened the embargo on Cuba, including the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992, the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 (which codified the embargo regulations), and the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000. Congress also has enacted numerous other provisions of law that impose sanctions on Cuba, including restrictions on trade, foreign aid, and support from the international financial institutions.

This report provides information on legislative provisions restricting relations with Cuba. It lists the various provisions of law comprising economic sanctions on Cuba, including key laws that are the statutory basis of the embargo, and provides information on the authority to lift or waive these restrictions.

15 Minutes to Leave: Denial of the Right to Adequate Housing in Post-Quake Haiti

March 2, 2015 Comments off

15 Minutes to Leave: Denial of the Right to Adequate Housing in Post-Quake Haiti
Source: Amnesty International

Five years on from a devastating earthquake in Haiti, tens of thousands of people remain homeless as government policy failures, forced evictions and short-term solutions have failed many who lost everything in the disaster.

The new report, “15 Minutes to Leave” – Denial of the Right to Adequate Housing in Post-Quake Haiti, documents worrying cases of people being forcibly evicted from temporary, make-shift camps. The report also explores how the influx of development aid that came in the wake of the disaster failed to be transformed into long-term, secure housing solutions.

According to the latest data, 123 camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) remain open in Haiti, housing 85,432 people. While the number of those in camps has reduced significantly since 2010, more than 22,000 households are still without adequate housing.

Conditions in many IDP camps are dire. A third of all those living in camps do not have access to a latrine. On average 82 people share one toilet.

Forced evictions from camps are a serious and ongoing problem. More than 60,000 people have been forcibly evicted from their shelters in makeshift camps since 2010. The vast majority were not offered any alternative locations where they could resettle, pushing them again into poverty and insecurity.

Economic and competitiveness gains from the adoption of best practices in intermodal maritime and road transport in the Americas

January 7, 2015 Comments off

Economic and competitiveness gains from the adoption of best practices in intermodal maritime and road transport in the Americas
Source: Oxford Economics

Broad-based preliminary estimates suggest implementation of TIR could boost exports in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico by $1-$5 billion per annum, depending on the country, for a total of $9 billion per annum for all three countries. This report, produced by Oxford Economics, explores the maritime and road transport systems in international transport, focusing on trade facilitation and the potential for improvements in trade systems in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico with implementation of the TIR system, as well as potential challenges.

Free registration required.

Country Analysis Brief: Brazil

January 6, 2015 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Brazil
Source: Energy Information Administration

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that in 2013, Brazil was the eighth-largest energy consumer in the world and the third-largest in the Americas (North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America), behind the United States and Canada. Total primary energy consumption in Brazil has increased by more than one-third in the past decade because of sustained economic growth. The largest share of Brazil’s total energy consumption is oil and other liquid fuels, followed by hydroelectricity and natural gas.

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