Hundreds of babies born drug-dependent
Almost one in 500 babies in hospitals in England is born dependent on substances their mother took while pregnant, a BBC investigation has found. Of 72 NHS hospital trusts who responded to a Freedom of Information request, the average rate for babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome was 0.2%. It is caused by women taking legal and illegal drugs while pregnant. Health experts say it is a declining trend. BBC's Look North and the English regions data unit asked NHS hospital trusts to pro...Fungal infection 'threat' to human health
Fungal infections kill more people than malaria or breast cancer but are not considered a priority, say scientists. Prof Neil Gow, from the University of Aberdeen, said more than one million people die from fungal infections around the world each year. Yet there are no vaccines and there is a "pressing need" for new treatments, he said. The warning comes as doctors in England say a new strain of fungi is causing outbreaks in hospitals. There are more than five million types of fungi, but onl...Fertility treatment 'works for most'
Nearly three out of four couples that begin fertility treatment will eventually become parents, long-term studies suggest. The analysis of nearly 20,000 Danish couples found 65% had children within three years and 71% within five years. Doctors, presenting their data at a fertility conference, said the odds were heavily influenced by age. But experts said the findings were very encouraging for couples struggling to have babies. There is strong evidence that about one in three cycles of IVF&n...'Civil war' in immune system can fight disease
The immune system can be trained to attack itself to reverse a devastating autoimmune disease, in animal studies. US researchers treated Pemphigus vulgaris in mice by instigating civil war within the immune system, and say the approach could work in people. Experts said the treatment, published in the journal Science, was creative and successful and they "loved it". Autoimmune diseases result from the body's defences turning rogue and attacking healthy tissue. In Pemphigu...Zika-damaged babies could appear normal, says study
Babies with brains damaged by the Zika virus might still appear normal, a large study of Brazilian babies shows. Babies born with tiny heads - or microcephaly - is the main concern in the Zika outbreak. But the findings, published in the Lancet, show a fifth of babies that would be classed as normal actually had brain abnormalities. And the Brazilian researchers warned Zika infection in newborns could also lead to brain damage. Zika infection is largely mild, with most people having no ...'Bath daily' advice for eczema children
If your child has eczema it is fine to give them a dunk in the bath every day, as long as you apply lots of moisturising emollient cream to their skin afterwards, say US researchers. Some experts have said infrequent washing might be better because too much washing can dry out the skin. To try to settle the debate, the US team looked at the available medical evidence. They say while it's best to avoid too much soap, a daily soak is fine. UK experts agree, although they point out that there h...Playing card games aids stroke recovery
Playing simple card games, such as snap, can help stroke patients with their recovery, say Canadian researchers. The scientists found it improved patients' motor skills. Playing Jenga, bingo or a games consol like Wii worked equally well. They told the Lancet Neurology that the type of task used for motor rehabilitation might be less relevant, as long as it is intensive, repetitive and gets the hands and arms moving. The researchers designed their study to test whether virtual real...Abortion demand 'soars' amid Zika fear
Fears over the Zika virus have contributed to a "huge" increase in the number of women in Latin America wanting abortions, researchers say. Estimates suggest there has been at least a doubling in requests in Brazil and an increase of a third in other countries. Many governments have advised women not to get pregnant due to the risk of babies being born with tiny brains. The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Sixty countries and territories have reported cases of ...Ginger and acupressure 'options for morning sickness'
Taking ginger or using acupressure on the wrist may help some women with mild morning sickness, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) says. Its guidance suggests these therapies could offer alternatives to women who want to avoid medication. But it says anti-sickness drugs and hospital treatment are important in more severe cases. The recommendations are in line with advice from NHS watchdog the NICE. Nausea and vomiting affects about 80% of pregnant women.Cancer risk from coffee downgraded
The cancer risk of coffee has been downgraded, with experts concluding there is inadequate evidence to suggest it causes the disease. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, had classed coffee as "possibly" carcinogenic since 1991. This was because of a link to bladder cancer. But the expert group has now decided there is insufficient evidence to say whether it causes cancer or not. Drinking very hot drinks - above normal drinking temperature -...Pioneering cancer drug combination approved
A pioneering pair of cancer drugs that unleash the immune system on tumours will be paid for by the NHS in England. In trials, the combination therapy shrank the most aggressive and deadly type of skin cancer in 69% of patients. The decision to approve the drugs is one of the fastest in NHS history and is likely to be adopted throughout the UK. Experts said harnessing the body's own defences was now giving "new hope" to cancer patients. The field - known as immunotherapy - is one of the...Obesity boom 'fuelling rise in malnutrition'
Malnutrition is sweeping the world, fuelled by obesity as well as starvation, new research has suggested. The 2016 Global Nutrition Report said 44% of countries were now experiencing "very serious levels" of both under-nutrition and obesity. It means one in three people suffers from malnutrition in some form, according to the study of 129 countries. Being malnourished is "the new normal", the report's authors said. Malnutrition has traditionally been associated with children who ar...New treatment can 'halt' multiple sclerosis, says study
Aggressive chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant can halt the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS), a small study has suggested. The research, published in The Lancet, looked at 24 patients aged between 18 and 50 from three hospitals in Canada. For 23 patients the treatment greatly reduced the onset of the disease, but in one case a person died. An MS Society spokeswoman said this type of treatment does "offer hope" but also comes with "significant risks". Around 100,00...New blood test targets depression
UK scientists have developed a blood test to help doctors pick the best drug for patients with depression. Medics currently have to rely on trial and error, meaning around half of the time the first type of antidepressant given fails to work. The researchers from King's College London say checking a patient's blood could help identify accurate treatment. Those who test positive for inflammation need more aggressive therapy from the outset, they say. So far the researchers have tried out thei...
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