Are men with moustaches more likely to carry nasal bacteria?

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This paper discusses the results of an investigation concentrating on men with and without a moustache, to explore whether having facial hair may lead to an increase in nasal Staphylococcus aureus (S aureus) colonisation.

S. aureus can be considered as a serious public health issue. It can cause a range of illnesses, from minor skin infections to life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, and food poisoning, although the presence of S. aureus does not always indicate infection.

The anterior nares (nostrils) are where S. aureus resides in human beings, and it has been shown that nasal carriers of S aureus have an increased risk of acquiring an infection with this pathogen. Despite antibiotic therapy, nasal infections occur frequently in hospitalised patients, often with severe consequences.  In order to fully address this public health problem, it is important to understand whether the presence of a moustache effects the colonisation of nasal infections.

To test this hypothesis the researchers took men who had been wearing a moustache for at least one year and compared them to the participants in the control group who had shaved the hair in this region daily over the previous year. None of the participants had been hospitalised or treated with antibiotics in the previous three months nor were they smokers or had any previous respiratory infections in the past.

The study group consisted of 118 adult men with a moustache and 123 men without a moustache, all of whom gave samples from their right nasal cavity for the study of cytology and the left nasal for microbiology testing.

The results of the swab testing indicated that nasal Staphylococcus aureus carriage is similar in men with (19.5%) and without (20.3%) a moustache.

As a moustache is situated at the entrance to the nostrils, some bacterial contamination might be possible, especially in nasal S aureus carriers. Nevertheless, this study indicated that nasal S aureus carriage is similar in men with and without a moustache. The carrier rate of S aureus observed here is comparable to those rates reported in the literature. Therefore, having a moustache does not increase the risk of S aureus colonisation in the nose.

The full paper, published in The Journal of Laryngology & Otology, “Effect of a moustache on nasal Staphylococcus aureus colonisation and nasal cytology results in men” by E. Soylu, I. Orhan, A. Cakir, A. Istanbullu, G. Altin, R. Yilmazer and O. F. Calim can be viewed free of charge here for a limited period.


Does the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative increase breastfeeding?

The July Nutrition Society Paper of the Month is from Public Health Nutrition and is entitled ‘Evaluating the impact of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative on breast-feeding rates: a multi-state analysis’.

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Not only does breastfeeding improve the health of mothers and infants, but it also reduces health care costs and has a smaller environmental footprint than formula-feeding. Although currently three-quarters of US women start breastfeeding, women with lower education are much less likely to try. One known barrier is the lack of breastfeeding support that women receive in the hospital.

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was developed by the World Health Organization and UNICEF in 1991 to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding within the birth facility and after. While more than 20,000 hospitals and birth centers in 156 countries have been designated as Baby-Friendly, there are only 182 BFHI facilities in the US in 43 states and DC. Despite the success of the BFHI on breastfeeding practices internationally, research in the US has been limited. We wanted to determine whether the BFHI increased breastfeeding overall and, particularly, whether it improved breastfeeding among women with lower education.

Using data from 5 states, we compared breastfeeding outcomes between 11,723 mothers who gave birth in 13 BFHI hospitals and 13,604 mothers from 19 non-BFHI birth facilities. Although overall women who gave birth in BFHI hospitals were no more likely to start or continue breastfeeding than women from non-BFHI facilities, we showed that it benefited women with lower education. Only 78% of women with a high school degree or less started breastfeeding, but we found that those women who delivered in BFHI hospitals were 3.8 percentage points more likely to start breastfeeding than women with the same educational attainment who delivered in non-BFHI facilities. In contrast, 90% of women with more than a high school degree started breastfeeding, but giving birth in a BFHI hospital did not further increase their likelihood of starting or continuing breastfeeding.

What are the implications of these findings?

Women with low education benefited the most from giving birth in Baby-Friendly hospitals, suggesting that the BFHI may be one way to help decrease socio-economic disparities in breastfeeding. Currently only 7% of births in the US are in BFHI facilities. Our results support the recommendation to increase the number of BFHI-accredited birth facilities to encourage women to start breastfeeding, but more may be needed to help women continue breastfeeding after discharge.

This paper is freely available for one month via the following link:

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