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Hearing test services facing cuts, men more likely to die of broken heart, and chips in pregnancy warning

A round-up of the health news headlines on Tuesday 23 October

There have been several reports in recent months that the drive to save £20bn from the NHS budget over five years is hitting front line services. Now a charity warns that NHS hearing services are being scaled back with 40% of hospitals seeing cuts in the past 18 months, BBC News online reports. Action on Hearing loss said freedom of information requests had highlighted rises in waiting times, reduced follow-up appointments and a lack of specialists. Chief executive Paul Breckell said: ‘Making savings from hearing service cuts right now is a false economy because it will only lead to higher NHS and social care costs to support people with untreated loss in the long run.’

The Daily Mail reports today that it does seem possible to die from a broken heart – that is if you are a man. A study found that grieving husbands are 30% more likely to die after being widowed but women had no increased risk. The US research published in Economics and Human Biology also found that a woman who loses a child is three times more likely to die in the two years afterwards. Study leader Professor Javier Espinosa, said: ‘When a wife dies, men are often unprepared. They have often lost their caregiver, someone who cares for them physically and emotionally, and the loss directly impacts the husband’s health.’ 

Chips may seem harmless enough but, says the Daily Telegraph, they can be added to the list of foods that pregnant women should be careful about eating too much of. A study found that eating vast quantities of chips, crisps and biscuits, which contain high levels of acrylamide can lead to babies with lower than average birth weight. The research of 1,100 pregnant women across Europe found those with the highest intakes of acrylamide also had babies with smaller heads. Professor John Wright, who is leading the Born in Bradford study, which was part of the research, said: ‘This is important new research which demonstrates a clear link between acrylamide and the health of newborn babies. The effect of acrylamide is comparable with the well-known adverse effect of smoking on birth weight. Our advice for pregnant mothers is to follow a balanced diet and go easy on the crisps and chips.’

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