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Autism sibling link, child abuse depression discovery, and the midwifery elite

Our round-up of health news headlines on Monday 15 August.

The Daily Mail and Independent state that the siblings of autistic children are nearly twice as likely to develop the disorder than was previously believed. Almost 19% of the children studied developed autism spectrum disorders, higher than previous estimates which put the risk for siblings at between 3% and 10%, with the risk being higher for boys.

People with a history of abuse during childhood are twice as likely to have recurrent episodes of depression in adulthood, according to the Guardian. Research by the Institute of Psychiatry also showed that these individuals were less likely to respond well to psychological or drug-based treatments.

There's hope for children suffering from a severe form of rheumatoid arthritis, systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (sJIA). In a trial reported by The Times (story behind paywall), participants were able to regain much of their mobility with a new drug treatment, tocilizumab. The drug improved symptoms by 70% in more than two thirds of patients in three months. The treatment costs £8,000 and is currently under review by NICE.

According to the Daily Mail, the latest middle-class trend this year is… private midwives. There's been a boom in the number used in home births, with thousands of pounds being spent by middle-class women to achieve the ‘perfect' birth. The number of home births using private midwives increased from 350 in 2002 to over 1,000 in 2010.

Sue Macdonald from the Royal College of Midwives said staff shortages were one of the main reasons women were denied the highest standards of care.

She said: ‘What women want is to feel special, and listened to and cared for, and to develop a relationship with their midwife right from the start of pregnancy. We want every woman to get that gold standard of care, not just those who can pay for it.'

Spotted a story we've missed? Let us know and we'll update the digest throughout the day...

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