Children should be more involved in healthcare decisions that affect them

Research at hospitals in Ireland revealed that children find it difficult to have their views heard | Imelda Coyne for The Conversation

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The children said that doctors and nurses were “nice” and “kind”, but some tended to carry out medical procedures without seeking their opinions or telling them beforehand. Some parents helped children to be included in talks about their care, but other parents answered questions on their behalf, told them to stay quiet and withheld information from them. Some parents also told their child to stay quiet and not annoy the doctor or nurse. Being excluded from discussions made some children feel sad, frustrated and angry. As one 14-year-old girl put it: “It made me feel like a piece of machinery; they weren’t actually talking to me.”

Read the full blog post here

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Antidepressant use in early pregnancy does not increase autism & ADHD risk in kids

Large-scale analysis suggests fewer risks than previously thought from exposure to antidepressant medications in early pregnancy | ScienceDaily

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A study led by Indiana University suggests that mothers’ use of antidepressants during early pregnancy does not increase the risk of their children developing autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conditions previously associated with these medications.

The research, reported today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found significant evidence for only a slight increase in risk for premature birth in the infants of mothers who used antidepressants during the first trimester of pregnancy.

After controlling for multiple other risk factors, the researchers did not find any increased risk of autism, ADHD or reduced fetal growth among exposed offspring. The risk for premature birth was about 1.3 times higher for exposed offspring compared to unexposed offspring.

Read the full commentary here

The original research abstract is available here

NHS and leading suppliers join forces to cut sugary drinks

The NHS is stepping up the battle against obesity, diabetes and tooth decay by announcing that sugary drinks will be banned in hospital shops beginning from next year unless suppliers voluntarily take decisive action to cut their sales over the next 12 months | NHS England

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NHS England is announcing that leading retailers have agreed to continue voluntarily reducing sales of sugary drinks to 10 percent or less of their total drinks sales within hospitals over the coming year.

In addition, NHS England is from this month, April 2017, introducing new national incentives for hospitals and other NHS providers to go further to improve food on their premises. Progress has already been made in 2016/17 to cut all price promotions on sugary drinks and foods high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS), end advertisements of these foods on NHS premises, stop sales at checkouts and ensure healthy food options are available at all times, including for those working night shifts.

But to build on this, by April 2018 hospitals must make further efforts, including:

  • 60 per cent of confectionery and sweets stocked do not exceed 250 kcal, rising to 80 per cent of confectionery and sweets in 2018/19.
  • 60 per cent of pre-packed sandwiches and other savoury pre-packed meals to contain 400 kcal or less per serving and do not exceed five grams of saturated fat per 100g, moving to 75 per cent in 2018/19.

Read the full news story here

Expert reaction to artificially-sweetened fizzy drinks, stroke and dementia

 

A new prospective cohort study publishing in Stroke investigates if there is an increased risk of stroke and dementia after sugar and artificially sweetened beverage consumption | Science Media Centre

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Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society said:

“This research does not show that artificially sweetened drinks cause dementia. But it does highlight a worrying association that requires further investigation

“Research into dietary factors is very complex and there are a number of issues that need clarifying, for example why drinks sweetened with sugar were not associated with an increased risk in this study, and teasing out links between all types of sugary drinks, diabetes and dementia.

“What we do know is that the things we eat and drink can have an effect on our brain health. Evidence shows that along with eating a healthy diet, including watching what you drink, the best way to reduce your risk of dementia is to take plenty of exercise and stop smoking.”

Read other expert analysis here

The original research article is available for download here

Social prescribing: less rhetoric and more reality

Bickerdike, L. et al. (2017) BMJ Open. 7:e013384.

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Objectives: Social prescribing is a way of linking patients in primary care with sources of support within the community to help improve their health and well-being. Social prescribing programmes are being widely promoted and adopted in the UK National Health Service and so we conducted a systematic review to assess the evidence for their effectiveness.

Conclusions: Social prescribing is being widely advocated and implemented but current evidence fails to provide sufficient detail to judge either success or value for money. If social prescribing is to realise its potential, future evaluations must be comparative by design and consider when, by whom, for whom, how well and at what cost.

Read the full article here

Two drugs could be ‘repurposed’ to fight dementia

“Depression and cancer drugs offer hope for dementia sufferers,” Sky News reports. The headline is prompted by a study looking at the effect of two drugs – one used to treat depression and another being trialed for cancer treatment – on neurodegenerative diseases | NHS Choices

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This early stage experimental research has demonstrated a beneficial neurological effect of trazodone and dibenzoylmethane on mice with diseases mimicking neurodegenerative diseases.

It is important to acknowledge that this is animal research and therefore the drugs might not have the same effect when they are trialled on humans.

That being said, trazodone is already an approved drug for depression and sleep problems and has therefore already passed safety tests. If the mechanisms of neurodegeneration in humans and mice are similar, it is possible trazodone could be used in the future in treating Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

These early tests are promising. However, these drugs need to be proven effective and safe in people with neurodegenerative diseases before becoming available.

Even if these are proven safe and effective, it is often a lengthy process from the start of human clinical trials to drugs being marketed and available to healthcare providers. This is especially true for long-term conditions where progression may be slow. Therefore, it could well be several years before these drugs are available for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

Read the full analysis here

The original research abstract is available here

Parents struggle with choosing allergy medicine for their children

Dosing, labeling and a seemingly endless range of allergy medication options can make picking the right medicine a complicated task for some parents | ScienceDaily

As allergy season kicks into high gear, many parents are likely searching for over-the-counter medications to help relieve children of symptoms like sneezing, coughing and congestion.

But dosing, labeling and a seemingly endless range of allergy medication options can make picking the right medicine a complicated task for some parents, suggests today’s report from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan.

Read the full overview here