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      Hospital conducting study on infant teardrops

      The first 12 months of a baby??s life are undoubtedly the most important.

      Dr. Colleen Vallad-Hix at Portage Health said whether mothers choose to breastfeed or bottle feed, it??s vital to make sure your baby gets the proper nutrition.

      ??It??s critical in the first year of life because babies are developing so quickly, but especially their central nervous system and brain is growing,?? said Dr. Vallad-Hix. ??Without good nutrition, it??s definitely hampered.??

      Typically, infant nutrition is measured by taking a blood sample, but it??s a time-consuming method as samples have to be sent to labs for processing. That??s why researchers at Michigan Tech are studying infant teardrops, through funding from the Gerber Foundation, to determine if tear samples are an accurate way of measuring a baby??s vitamin levels.

      ??We live in an area that doesn??t get a lot of sunshine, and so we have a lot of children who have some potential vitamin D deficiencies,?? Dr. Vallad-Hix said. ??There are other deficiencies in vitamins that can lead to anemia and problems with attention.??

      ??What we??re hoping to do is design these portable chips that can be just done right there next to the infant so you know in five minutes if they??re deficient in any area,?? added Michigan Tech research study Principle Investigator, Dr. Adrienne Minerick.

      Dr. Minerick said the test is performed by placing a small strip of filter paper under the baby??s bottom eyelid to absorb a single, tiny tear drop??just 35 microliters.

      ??During a regular well-baby visit, it does take just a touch of extra time,?? she explained. ??But that extra time could make a huge difference in health care for infants that follow.??

      At least 30 participants are needed for the study, and it will span the first 12 months of a newborn??s life. Dr. Minerick said the information obtained could allow doctors to give better nutritional advice tailored specifically for each family??s needs.

      ??As parents, we want the best for our children, and they??re completely dependent upon us to give them food and nutrients,?? she said. ??So, if we have a tool to be able to measure to make sure we are giving them the exact proper nutrition for them to grow to their highest potential, that??s our goal. That??s really what we want for our children.??

      For more information about the teardrop study, head to Portage Health??s website here .