Perth research realises coconut oil’s benefits for premature babies

A breakthrough trial has seen Perth researchers turn to coconut oil to fight sepsis in newborns.

It has been so successful that Perth’s King Edward Memorial Hospital is now using the oil as a standard treatment for premature babies.

Baby Grace was born 14 weeks prematurely, weighing only 870 grams and so small she could fit in the palm of her parents’ hands. For her, the peculiar treatment was life-saving.

Her mother Tara Hunter said before the treatment she didn’t know whether she would ever take her baby home with her.

“You hear of coconut oil being amazing for everything but you just didn’t expect it to be used on babies I guess,” she said.

Every year, about one in four premature babies acquire sepsis, an infection which can cause disability or even death.

Australia-wide, there are nearly 27,000 premature births every year, costing hospitals $2 billion. Using coconut oil is safe and cheap, costing only $5 per baby per week.

Dr Tobias Strunk from King Edward Memorial Hospital said the fatty acids that made up about 50 per cent of coconut oil were responsible for its strong anti-microbial properties.

A 2016 trial initially proved its effectiveness, but now there are plans to extend the trial with the Telethon Kids Institute to 15 hospitals across the country.

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