The Health News United Kingdom April 25 2018

  • An epilepsy drug that can damage unborn babies must no longer be prescribed to girls and women of childbearing age in the UK unless they sign a form to say that they understand the risks. Drug regulator MHRA says the new measures it’s introducing will keep future generations of children safe. Those already on valproate medication should see their general practitioner to have their treatment reviewed. No woman or girl should stop taking it without medical advice though.
  • A ban on buy-one-get-one-free offers on junk food, as well as strict new rules on how and when it can be advertised, are among a host of measures aimed at tackling childhood obesity proposed by the leaders of the main opposition parties in a letter to the prime minister on Wednesday. The letter, coordinated by the celebrity chef and healthy eating campaigner Jamie Oliver, also calls for action that would make healthier foods cheaper and easier to recognise, adding that the NHS is struggling to cope with the burgeoning obesity crisis.
  • The deputy chief executive of the NHS health watchdog has warned that e-cigarettes are being marketed as ‘edgy lifestyle devices’ which could encourage people to use them for too long,Speaking at the Science and Technology committee, Professor Gillian Leng, of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said the long term health risks of vaping were still unknown.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 25th of April 2018. Read by Tabetha Moreto.

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-43863191

An epilepsy drug that can damage unborn babies must no longer be prescribed to girls and women of childbearing age in the UK unless they sign a form to say that they understand the risks. Drug regulator the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency says the new measures it’s introducing will keep future generations of children safe. Those already on valproate medication should see their general practitioner to have their treatment reviewed. No woman or girl should stop taking it without medical advice though.

It is thought about twenty thousand children in the UK have been left with disabilities caused by valproate since the drug was introduced in the nineteen seventies. Affected families have called for a public inquiry and compensation. Epilepsy charities say one in five women on sodium valproate are unaware that taking it during pregnancy can harm the development and physical health of an unborn baby. And more than one in four have not been given information about risks for their unborn child.

If valproate is taken during pregnancy, up to four in ten babies are at risk of developmental disorders, and approximately one in ten are at risk of birth defects. Doctor June Raine, from the MHRA said: “Patient safety is our highest priority. We are committed to making sure women and girls are aware of the very real risks of taking valproate during pregnancy. However, we also know it is vitally important women don’t stop taking valproate without first discussing it with their doctor.”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/apr/25/party-leaders-urge-theresa-may-to-act-on-childhood-obesity

A ban on buy-one-get-one-free offers on junk food, as well as strict new rules on how and when it can be advertised, are among a host of measures aimed at tackling childhood obesity proposed by the leaders of the main opposition parties in a letter to the prime minister on Wednesday. The letter, coordinated by the celebrity chef and healthy eating campaigner Jamie Oliver, also calls for action that would make healthier foods cheaper and easier to recognise, adding that the NHS is struggling to cope with the burgeoning obesity crisis.

It was signed by the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, as well as the heads of the Scottish National party and the Liberal Democrats, Nicola Sturgeon and Vince Cable, and the joint leaders of the Green party, Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley.
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Saying a raft of measures needed to be introduced en masse to tackle the problem, they say they would support the prime minister if she banned multi-buy offers on junk food, stopped adverts for it before nine pm and online, and prohibited the use of popular cartoon characters and celebrities in ads.

Among other proposals, they call for the tax system to be “used to make healthy food cheaper and discourage unhealthy choices both at home and on our high streets”. The leaders also say the levels of sugar, calories, salt and fat in junk food should be lowered overall, while more training should be given to medical staff to help people with nutrition.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2018/04/24/e-cigarettes-danger-becoming-lifestyle-choice-safety-proven/

The deputy chief executive of the NHS health watchdog has warned that e-cigarettes are being marketed as ‘edgy lifestyle devices’ which could encourage people to use them for too long,
Speaking at the Science and Technology committee, Professor Gillian Leng, of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence or NICE said the long term health risks of vaping were still unknown. Professor Leng, said that while it was safe to use e-cigarettes as a quitting aid, there were questions about whether they should be marketed as a ‘lifestyle choice.’
….
Professor Lend added: “They are ninety five percent safer than cigarettes but there is five percent that we don’t know about.” However Professor John Newton, director of health improvement at Public Health England, said there were ‘reassuring patterns’ of e-cigarette use. He said: “The large scale surveys suggest that there is a progression from being a smoker, to using e-cigarettes, to stopping.”
….
It found that e-cigarettes could be contributing to at least twenty thousand people quitting smoking every year. But the review found that two in five smokers had never even tried vaping, PHE said that “many thousands of smokers incorrectly believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking.”

Meanwhile England’s public health minister has said that he should not “be a cheerleader” for e-cigarettes. Health minister Steve Brine told Members of Parliament: “I get criticised for not being a cheerleader for e-cigarettes. I do not think it is my job to be a cheerleader for a sector of industry necessarily.

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