- Beads that expand in water have potentially fatal consequences if they are swallowed, an Adelaide doctor has warned.
- Australian workplaces are not equipped to deal with the growing numbers of employees with dementia despite an ageing population and a possible “tsunami” of future cases, advocates have warned.
- Common phobias in children of spiders, dogs or flying could be overcome with the help of an antibiotic used to treat tuberculosis, researchers say.
This is the Health News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 4th of May 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.
Beads that expand in water have potentially fatal consequences if they are swallowed, an Adelaide doctor has warned.
A two-year-old girl was recently treated at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital after swallowing the beads, which were bought from a country market.
Called Water Beads, or Water Balz, the polymer balls can expand up to 400 times their size when they come into contact with water.
Doctor David Moore said only four cases of children eating the beads had been documented internationally but believed many more cases went unreported.
“There has been one report of a fatality, this was in Pakistan, where a six-month-old child swallowed one of these beads, one that was used for floral arrangements,” he said.
“It was slightly bigger but they can expand up to the size of a golf ball.”
SA Health Minister Jack Snelling said the beads were mostly used as decorative items inside vases and centrepieces but they had recently been marketed as “sensory” learning toys for children.
“The water beads are brightly coloured and can look like lollies, making them particularly tempting for young children, who naturally place items in the mouth during early stages of development,” he said.
Dr Moore said balls that are swallowed could lead to intestinal obstruction, vomiting, severe discomfort and dehydration.
“Fortunately the child involved in this incident did not suffer any long term effects but the situation could have been far worse,” he said.
Australian workplaces are not equipped to deal with the growing numbers of employees with dementia despite an ageing population and a possible “tsunami” of future cases, advocates have warned.
Dementia affects 340,000 Australians, with 25,000 of them under the age of 65 and the numbers are set to increase by a third in less than 10 years.
Yet despite a delayed retirement age of 70 by the year 2035, there is no national blueprint to cope with the increasing concern.
Alzheimer’s Australia chief Carol Bennett warned the figures were a cause for alarm and said she was keen to work with the Federal Government and workplaces to address the issue.
“As the prevalence of dementia progresses, we will certainly need to be adjusting and making sure that we’ve got policies in workplaces as that prevalence increases.”
Clinical neuropsychologist Dr Nicola Gates said she was concerned that while much had been done overseas in countries like the UK and Canada to prepare for the advance, the conversation between key players nationally had not even started yet here in Australia.
Dr Gates anticipates a “tsunami” of cases to deal with in the coming years.
Of particular concern was the potential for a rise in discrimination and litigation cases, affecting employers, the employees with dementia, co-workers and consumers, she said.
In Australia, little research has been done about the likely consequences of the rise of dementia in the workplace, and what it will mean for employees, employers, their customers, and the carers.
Garry Brack from the Australian Federation of Employers and Industries said it could only be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
“There won’t be any clear policy to say you keep them in the workplace longer, and you give them less significant jobs because there may be none,” he said.
Mr Brack said the risk of potential litigation caused by poor decisions of those with dementia could be set to rise, along with the risk of discrimination from employers, trying to grapple with the situation.
One person is diagnosed with the disease every six minutes, and it is the third highest cause of mortality in Australia, and the second highest for women.
Each week,1800 new cases of dementia are diagnosed.
The Federal Government has not ruled out a future National Disability Insurance Scheme to address the problem.
Common phobias in children of spiders, dogs or flying could be overcome with the help of an antibiotic used to treat tuberculosis, researchers say.
Macquarie University researchers administered the drug D-cycloserine to 35 children aged between 6 and 14.
The drug, which has an ingredient that is known to reinforce learning, was administered in conjunction with exposure therapy — where people face their fears gradually.
After a week scientists said the children, who all had phobias of spiders and dogs, were better able to cope with their fears.
The results will be published in the journal Depression and Anxiety.
Researcher Simon Byrne said the medication had been used before in teens and adults, but his study was the first to involve children.
“The vast majority of the children in our study had improved and the good majority would be diagnosed as free at the end of the study,” he said.
He said the study could have ramifications for people with other common fears, such as heights, small spaces and flying.
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