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Increase in maternal deaths, 'three strikes' against teenage cancer, and the teenage brain helps solve the mystery of the chicken and egg

A round-up of the health news headlines on Monday 30 April

The Telegraph and the Mail Online report that the rate of maternal deaths in London has doubled in five years to twice the rate of the rest of the UK. This is blamed on an increase in older mothers, obesity rates and the use of fertility treatments.

Dr Susan Bewley, consultant obstetrician, said: "We do know that women are becoming pregnant when they are older and fatter, and have more complex health issues."

One in five of the UK's babies are born in London. The capital has the added pressures of high rates of social deprivation and ethnic minorities, who often access healthcare later in their pregnancies.

The Mail adds that while the UK birth rate has risen by 21% since 2001, the number of midwives has only increased by 15%. It notes that the Royal College of Midwives estimates an extra 5,000 midwives are needed.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the pressure group Migration Watch UK, warns in the Telegraph that the NHS "risks becoming the World Health Service" after ministers confirmed that patients do not need to present ID or proof of address to register with a GP. Simon Burns last year revealed that "health tourists" had received at least £35m of free treatment over eight years.

Today kicks off the Teenage Cancer Trust's first teenage cancer awareness week, marked in the Guardian with a report that a quarter of young people with cancer visit a GP four or more times before they are referred to a specialist.

Simon Davies, the trust's chief executive, said: "Young people need to take a ‘three strikes' approach. If a young person presents with the same symptoms three times, GPs should automatically refer them for further investigation."

And finally, the Telegraph suggests that a new study of teenage brains helps to answer the "chicken-and-egg question" about brain patterns and drug use. The study used MRI scans to compare the brains of over 2,000 14 year-olds and found that certain networks of neurons precede drug use.

The Telegraph calls it "the first time the vast and chaotic actions of a teenage brain at work have been shown in such detail."

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