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A blood test for Alzheimer's, worry over mental health provision for new mothers, and good news for fans of the Tour de France

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines on Tuesday 8 July.

Scientists have identified a set of blood proteins that help predict the onset of Alzheimer’s disease with unprecedented accuracy. In a study of over 1,000 people, researchers from Oxford University and Proteome Sciences were able to predict the onset of dementia in subjects with mild cognitive impairment with 87% accuracy, the BBC reports.

The test will go through considerable development before it is available in a clinical setting, and is unlikely to be used in isolation as a diagnostic tool, even when proved. Positive results will be confirmed by brain scans or spinal fluid tests to confirm the presence of Alzheimer’s.

Campaigners have criticised the ‘shocking gaps’ in UK mental health services that leave nearly half of new mothers without access to support or treatment from specialist mental health teams.

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance found that 106 CCGs in England and health boards in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland offered no specialist care at all, following similar findings yesterday from the National Childbirth Trust. the group, which compiled the figures from data supplied by the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ perinatal faculty, claims that they are ‘an embarrassment to the NHS’.

One in 10 UK women experience postnatal depression or other childbirth-related mental health problems which, without proper, reatment can develop with ‘devastating effects’.

And there’s good news for Tour de France fans, as the Telegraph reports that cycling does not cause infertility. Researchers at UCL looked at data from over 5,000 cyclists to conclude that cycling, even for more than eight and a half hours a week, has no link to loss of fertility or erectile dysfunction.

Around 80% of the UK’s cyclists are male, and previous research has suggested that frequent compression of the sexual organs through regular cycling could damage fertility. However, study author Mark Hamer noted that modern bicycle saddles are better designed that their historical antecedents, and that “there is nothing like the pressure that there once was”.

He added: “This study demonstrates that concerns regarding male infertility are cycling has not been born out. Increasing cycling levels in the population has huge potential gains for public health.”



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