The Health News – 16 March 2016

Overview:
• Peter Dietz, one of Australia’s leading experts on gynaecological injuries, said a crisis in Australian hospitals’ maternity wards was a direct result of efforts to bring down the rate of caesarean sections. 

• Along with Professor Steve Wilton, Dr Rakesh Veedu from Murdoch University’s Centre for Comparative Genomics is developing a new drug and drug delivery method to treat multiple sclerosis in a more targeted manner.

• A study published by Orygen found young people who self-harm continue to be subject to stigma from the wider community and health professionals. The researchers called for detailed research to better understand how social media could have positive or negative impacts on young people at risk of self-harm.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 16th of March 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-15/concern-over-maternal-injuries-caused-by-forceps/7248986

There is renewed concern about the scale of injuries to women caused by forceps delivery in Australian hospitals.

One leading expert on maternal injuries said a crisis in maternity wards was a direct result of efforts to bring down the rate of caesarean sections.

Peter Dietz, one of Australia’s leading experts on gynaecological injuries, is also warning of a potential flood of medical legal cases.

He said the crisis in Australia’s maternity wards was a result of the shift away from caesarean sections at a time when more and more pregnancies were regarded as high risk.

Professor Dietz said until recently, obstetricians were unaware of the extent of pelvic floor damage caused by forceps.

Professor Dietz predicts the legal fallout is just around the corner.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-15/new-drug-to-reduce-ms-side-effects-in-development/7246438

A new drug to tackle the side effects of multiple sclerosis (MS) will be safer and more effective than current approaches, its West Australian developers say.

MS is a life-long chronic inflammatory and degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that impacts 23,000 Australians and more than two million worldwide.

The inflammation causes lesions in the covering that protects the nerves fibres in the brain, affecting movement capability.

There is currently no cure for MS.

Dr Rakesh Veedu from Murdoch University’s Centre for Comparative Genomics said it was a research priority to find for a treatment for chronic inflammation to ease suffering.

Along with Professor Steve Wilton, Dr Veedu is developing a new drug and drug delivery method to treat inflammation in a more targeted manner.

“One particular protein plays a crucial role in inflammation. So in our research we are developing an innovative DNA enzyme that prevents high levels of this protein to tackle the inflammation,” Dr Veedu said.

“Once we develop this DNA enzyme, we can then attach it with another molecule that is specifically designed to target the correct cells.”

Dr Veedu said available drugs had been shown to reduce relapse rates, but there were still several unresolved issues, including dangerous long-term side effects and poor delivery efficacy.

Professor Wilton’s research also aims to validate alternative drugs to suppress inflammation.

Professor Wilton said there was no treatment to reverse the neuronal damage that occurred in the brain and spinal cord.

“We must find methods to promote the restoration of nerve function in these areas,” he said.

Murdoch University will own the drug intellectual property and work with pharmaceutical companies to commercialise the substance once proven.

The university’s Centre for Comparative Genomics was recently awarded $75,000 by MS Research Australia for the studies.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-15/negative-responses-to-blame-for-high-youth-self-harm-rates/7245290

Negative and damaging responses from front-line medical staff are a major reason why Australian youth self-harm rates are at “unacceptable” levels, researchers say.

A study published by Orygen, the national centre of excellence in youth mental health, found young people who self-harm continue to be subject to stigma from the wider community and health professionals.

The report quotes figures from previous research, which said one in 10 Australian adolescents had engaged in self-harming behaviour.

Other research mentioned in the report said one in five females aged between 16 and 17 had self-harmed.

Dr Jo Robinson, the paper’s lead author, said some young people felt reluctant to seek follow-up treatment due to dismissiveness, trivialisation and scepticism from emergency staff.

According to the paper, one respondent claimed a doctor asked if they had self-harmed to receive sympathy, while another said they helped patch up friends’ wounds because the injured parties did not want professional medical help.

The researchers called for detailed research to better understand how social media could have positive or negative impacts on young people at risk of self-harm.

In their report, the Orygen researchers made a number of recommendations to counter self-harm rates. They included:

  • Creating a national response to youth self-harm to be developed by a cross-sector body established by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG)
  • Specialised training to be provided every two years to emergency services and health workers
  • Improved data collection, including adding self-harm questions on population-based health surveys
  • Developing evidence-based guidelines for responding to self-harm in schools
  • A centralised registry for all e-mental health technologies providing interventions for self-harm, with an interface that can be accessed by clinicians, young people and their families
  • Added funding for self-harm research
  • Involving young people who had self-harmed and their families as key partners in research, policy and service responses

Last week, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed a 13.5 per cent increase in suicides between 2009 and 2014.