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Monsters threaten the NHS, working mothers risk damage and would you choose to die on your birthday?

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

The NHS took centre stage at the ceremony for the opening of the 2012 Olympics in London, as patients from Great Ormond Street Hospital performed a tribute to one of Britain's most-loved institutions.

Children in their hospital beds were lulled to sleep and then threatened by nightmarish 100-foot tall monsters. No, not Andrew Lansley – Lord Voldemort and Cruella de Vil.

One of the performers was Niamh Bowdler, 12, who was diagnosed with a rare kidney and bladder condition and receives treatment at the hospital.

She said of her part in the opening ceremony: ‘It felt really special being asked to stand there and represent all the children.'

 

Hospitals were also making the news elsewhere. The Telegraph reported that it might become common practice in Britain for brain-dead patients to be kept alive in order to harvest their organs.

The plans are being debated in a consultation carried out by NHS Blood and Transplant and are being discussed by the BMA.

Spain and the US already use the procedure, but in the UK it was made illegal by the Department of Health in 1994.

 

A mother working after eight months of pregnancy is as harmful to an unborn baby as smoking, according to new research. Women who continued to work after eight months of pregnancy had passed had babies that were on average around 230g lighter than those who stopped work between six and eight months.

Professor Marco Francesconi, one of the study's authors, told the Guardian the Government should incentivise more flexible maternity leave so expectant mothers can take time off before – as well as after – having their baby.

 

And from birth to birthdays, bizarre research published in the Annals of Epidemiology last month found people were 14% more likely to die on their birthday than any other day.

Researchers only looked at natural causes of death, so the increase in birthday deaths was statistically significant and could not be confounded by things like excessive celebrating.

The research throws up questions about whether psychological factors like wanting to live mean we can decide when to finally blow out the candles. Happy birthday!

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