Schiff to testify to House Foreign Affairs subcommittee

Washington, D.C. - The treatment of hydrocephalus in African children and the effects of climate on newborn infections will be the focus of testimony when Steven Schiff, director of the Penn State Center for Neural Engineering and Brush chair professor of engineering, testifies before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, at 2 p.m. on Tuesday (Aug. 2)

Hydrocephalus -- water on the brain -- is one of the most common treatable neurological conditions in childhood. Recently, Schiff and other researchers have shown that the majority of childhood hydrocephalus in East Africa, and perhaps much of the developing world, occurs after infections. According to Schiff, the broad implication is that most of the world's hydrocephalus is preventable.

Recent analysis of the magnitude of the economic burden of postinfectious hydrocephalus on sub-Saharan African societies, where more than 100,000 cases arise each year, detailed the enormous impact.

The hearings will highlight novel surgical techniques that have shown to be effective alternatives to the implantation of fluid shunts in children with hydrocephalus in developing countries. Also highlighted will be ongoing efforts to identify the microbes responsible for causing these infections, the routes of infection during the neonatal period and the emerging recognition from satellite climate measurements that rainfall has an important role in influencing the infection incidence.

Schiff, who holds appointments in the Departments of Neurosurgery and Engineering Science and Mechanics, and Physics, will be joined by Benjamin Warf, director of the Neonatal and Congenital Anomalies Neurosurgery, Department of Neurosurgery, Children's Hospital Boston, and Jim Cohick, senior vice president of specialty programs, CURE International. The session, "Hydrocephalus Treatment in Uganda: Leading the Way to Help Children," will be webcast at http://www.hcfa.house.gov.

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Last Updated August 09, 2011