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Meningitis B vaccine approved, minister recalls 'skinny runts' and alcohol leads to poor sleep

A roundup of the health news headlines on Wednesday 23 January

The European medicines regulator has found the meningitis B vaccine, Bexsero, is safe and effective for infants aged two months and above, the Daily Mail has reported. It has raised hopes that it will be available on the NHS by the end of the year, but will only be available privately before then. Novartis, its manufacturers, are expected to release supplies privately ‘in the middle of the year’.  

The Joint Commission on Vaccination and Immunisation has not yet ruled on whether the jab will become part of the routine immunisation programme. The Mail speculates the vaccination  is likely to be given as routine jabs for babies from age two months in three doses, with a booster at one year, plus an initial catch-up programme for toddlers and teenagers aged 15 to 18 years.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that a health minister has linked obesity to socioeconomic circumstances. In typically sensitive language for the Government, public health minister Anna Soubry said the most deprived children in her childhood were called ‘skinny runts’. But now the poorest people in society can be spotted because of obesity.

She also called on food manufacturers to cut the amount of fat, sugar and salt in their products or face the prospect of legislation to tackle unhealthy meals.

She said: ‘When I go to my constituency, in fact when I walk around, you can almost now tell somebody’s background by their weight,’ she said.

Finally, researchers have proved that alcohol upsets our normal sleep cycles, the BBC reports. In a study that should be of no surprise to anyone who has drunk alcohol, the London Sleep Centre says a drink before bed makes us fall asleep quicker, but the quality of sleep is lower and it can cause insomnia. It can also turn non-snorers into snorers.

Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, co-author of the study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, said: ‘One or two glasses might be nice in the short term, but if you continue to use a tipple before bedtime it can cause significant problems.

‘If you do have a drink, it’s best to leave an hour and a half to two hours before going to bed so the alcohol is already wearing off.’

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