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Berwick review expected to recommend minimum staffing levels, breastfeeding slashes Alzheimer's risk and AIDS 'vaccine' to be tested on monkeys

A round-up of the health news headlines on Tuesday 6 August

A review of patient safety in the NHS by President Obama’s former health adviser, Professor Don Berwick, is expected to recommend minimum staffing levels for hospitals and a legal duty for doctors, nurses and other NHS workers to admit their mistakes, the Guardian reports today.

Look out for the Pulse’s full report once the review is out this lunchtime.

Mothers who breastfeed slash their risk of developing Alzheimer’s by two thirds compared with women who never breastfeed their children, reports the Daily Mail.

A Cambridge University study found that the longer women breastfed, the more protection they were afforded.

The link between breastfeeding and Alzheimer’s was clear even when researchers took other potential variables into account. However, the protective benefits were far less for women who had a parent or sibling with dementia.

Researchers interviewed 81 British mothers aged between 70 and 100, including women with and without Alzheimiers. They also spoke to relatives, spouses and carers.

Dr Molly Fox, who is at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Biological Anthropology and who led the study, said developing low cost protection strategies was important: ‘Alzheimer’s is the world’s most common cognitive disorder and it already affects 35.6 million people.’

‘In the future, we expect it to spread most in low and middle-income countries. So it is vital that we develop low-cost, large-scale strategies to protect people against this devastating disease.’

However, Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, warned against being too quick to ‘jump to conclusions’ from preliminary studies.

Over at the Telegraph we find the news that Brazilian scientists are to test an AIDS vaccine on monkeys.

Developed and patented by a team from the Medicine Faculty of the University of Sao Paulo, the HIVBr18 jab is intended to vaccinate against the virus that causes AIDS.

At its current stage of development, the vaccine does not totally eliminate the virus, but it is hoped that it can maintain the virus with a viral load low enough to ensure an infected person does not develop an immunedeficiency or transmit the virus.

The monkey trials are expected to last two years, and the goal is to get to a stage where they are able to test the vaccine on humans, a spokesperson said.


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