The Health News – 6 October 2016

Overview:
•  The Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) trial involving more than 16,000 Australians taking a daily dose of aspirin will finish next year, with results of the health effects to be announced in 2018. Project leader Dr Suzanne Orchard from Monash University said the trial was prompted by a need to accommodate for Australia’s aging population.

• The District Court heard the mother, known as RMW, gave her then seven-year-old daughter, known as KW, the sedative drug chloral hydrate via her feeding tube during some of her 44 visits to the John Hunter Hospital in 2013. KW’s mother pleaded guilty to four offences and was given intensive corrections orders to be served in the community.

• Paediatricians in the Northern Territory fear unchecked use of lead shot or pellets used for hunting water fowl is causing an outbreak of elevated lead levels in children. At least 36 children in three communities have high lead levels, the Northern Territory Centre for Disease Control said.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  6th of October 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-05/australia-wide-aspirin-trial-to-wind-up-next-year/7906156

A trial involving more than 16,000 Australians taking a daily dose of aspirin will finish next year, with results of the health effects to be announced in 2018.

The Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) trial involves participants taking one tablet per day.

More than 30 per cent of participants, or 5,700, in the Australia-wide trial are from regional areas, including 200 people aged over 70 from Sunraysia.

Project leader Dr Suzanne Orchard from Monash University said the trial was prompted by a need to accommodate for Australia’s aging population.

Dr Orchard said although she now had almost six years of data from the ASPREE trial, it was not yet possible to extrapolate any early outcomes.

To increase the rigour of the research, the trial involves researchers, participants and their GPs not knowing whether the tablet was an aspirin or a placebo.

“Everyone is blinded, so it is near on impossible to see whether it’s working yet,” she said.

The blind nature of the trial has also led some to the question of potential aspirin overdose, but Dr Orchard said the risk was “relatively rare” and unlikely.

Although Dr Orchard said there had been prior research on aspirin and its health impacts, she believed that outcomes would be “ground-breaking”.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-05/crown-loses-appeal-against-woman-who-poisoned-7yo-daughter/7905328

The Crown has lost an appeal against a sentence given to a mother found guilty of poisoning her child at a Newcastle hospital.

The District Court heard the mother, known as RMW, gave her then seven-year-old daughter, known as KW, the sedative drug chloral hydrate via her feeding tube during some of her 44 visits to the John Hunter Hospital in 2013.

The court was told KW suffered brain damage at birth at Gosford Hospital and also had epilepsy and cerebral palsy.

She has been under the care of the Paediatric Neurology Department at Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital since 2007 when she was 20 months old.

The court heard before her mother’s arrest, the girl had been admitted to the John Hunter Children’s Hospital on 44 occasions.

Thirty-five of these admissions were unplanned or emergency admissions.

It prompted doctors to be concerned that her mother was inducing further illness in KW by poisoning her with overdoses of prescribed, or previously prescribed, medication.

Doctors noted that KW had 12 unexplained life-threatening coma episodes, before her mother’s arrest.

As a result police installed surveillance cameras in the lead up to the arrest.

KW’s mother pleaded guilty to four offences and was given intensive corrections orders to be served in the community.

The Crown said the sentence was manifestly inadequate, prompting its challenge in the Court of Criminal Appeal.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-05/high-lead-levels-in-children-incite-disease-control-fears-in-nt/7904766

Paediatricians in the Northern Territory fear unchecked use of lead shot or pellets used for hunting water fowl is causing an outbreak of elevated lead levels in children…

At least 36 children in three communities have high lead levels, the Northern Territory Centre for Disease Control said.

The centre tested soil and water in those communities and concluded the most likely cause was the lead shot or pellets.

The report said 21 adults had been found to have elevated blood lead levels, but the health repercussions were worse in children.

Dr Tait said he suspected a degree of elevated lead levels existed in most communities where water fowl — such as magpie geese — was hunted.

Paediatrician Dr Catherine Boyd said the lead levels were unacceptably high.

Currently there is no mandatory testing for lead in children in the Top End, meaning it is hard for specialists to gauge the full extent of the problem.

Lead shot was banned in 1989 in the Northern Territory when hordes of magpie geese were dying around popular Top End Hunting reserves.

But the Government still allowed Indigenous people to use it on their land, saying other pellets were too expensive and it was a traditional right.

In light of the latest testing, the Northern Territory Centre for Disease Control released a paper calling for a ban on lead shot.