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EC orders safety inquiry into all cox-2 inhibitors

Government immunisation experts considering universal varicella vaccination across the UK are examining new evidence on hospitalisation rates for chicken pox.

The first ever detailed report on the burden of severe complications from chicken pox showed five children under 16 died in 2002/3, while 103 were hospitalised.

Pneumonia, bacteraemia, encephalitis and septic shock were the most common complications, but there were six cases of necrotising fascititis.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will also use the data, published in the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit's annual report, to estimate the annual cost of hospitalisation for chicken pox and decide whether to proceed with selective or universal immunisation.

The 18th annual report also called for increased vigilance of rubella, after experts predicted a resurgence because of poor MMR uptake.

Since 1997 there have only been 10 babies born with congenital rubella in the UK and in six cases the infection was acquired abroad.

But the surveillance unit has warned cases will rise once rubella circulates in the population again and pregnant women from Africa and Asia are particularly susceptible.

The surveillance unit, part of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, will also be assessing the incidence of obesity-related type 2 diabetes in children, after reports the disease is on the rise.

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