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DateLine Wednesday, 8 October 2008

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Help for the unborn from Lankan Down Under

Nepean Hospital medical student Sinthu Sithamparanathan who was born in Sri Lanka has been awarded Best Presentation by a Student.

The award was made by the hospital's University of Sydney Clinical School.

Sithamparanathan, 26, was recognised for her research into how methadone taken by pregnant women can retard a foetus's development.

Methadone is prescribed for people addicted to heroin as part of the treatment to wean them off the drug.

"Most studies showed only a physical effect on growth, but that can affect mental development as well," Sithamparanathan said.

She said pregnant women could counter some of methadone's effects through early and regular consultation with their doctors.

But she cautioned against just stopping the treatment.

"The risks of going cold turkey from heroin can be even more detrimental for the baby," she said. Sithamparanathan has lived in St Mary's for 18 years. She was born in Sri Lanka and migrated to Australia with her family when she was six.

"I've always had an interest in paediatrics," she said.

"That's what interested me in medicine." Penrith City Star.

 

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