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Parenting advice aids mental health

General practice-based parenting programmes have the potential to improve mental health and reduce social inequalities, researchers have found. A controlled trial of parents from 116 families found a 10-week programme significantly improved child behaviour and mental health both immediately and in a six-month follow-up.

After one year differences between intervention and control groups ceased to be significant, however, and the authors suggested further work to improve long-term effectiveness.

Archives of Disease in Childhood 2004:89:519-25

Fish in pregnancy cuts IUGR risk

Eating fish during pregnancy may reduce the risk of having a very small baby, a study has found. Researchers studied 11,585 pregnant women in the South-West. They found the frequency of intrauterine growth retardation was significantly higher in women who ate no fish than in those with the highest fish intake (adjusted odds ratio 1.37). The authors concluded fish intake may increase fetal growth rate, although there is no evidence that it increases the gestation period.

Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2004;58:486-492

Low-carb diet best for weight loss

Low-carbohydrate diets may be more effective than low-fat diets at inducing weight loss and compliance may be higher, according to a US study. Researchers studied 120 overweight volunteers, half of whom took a low-carbohydrate diet for 24 weeks and half a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet.

The 76 per cent of participants who completed the low-carbohydrate diet lost an average of 12.9 per cent body weight. Only 57 per cent completed the low-fat diet, losing an average of 6.7 per cent body weight.

Annals of Internal Medicine 2004;140:769-77

Education cuts fizzy drink consumption

Educating children about the potential health risks of fizzy drinks can be effective at reducing consumption, a study has found. Researchers conducted a randomised, controlled trial of a school-based programme of nutritional education in 29 classes of children. Fizzy drink consumption decreased in the intervention group but increased in the control group.

And the proportion of overweight or obese children fell by 0.2 per cent in the intervention group, but increased by 7.5 per cent in the controls.

BMJ 2004;328:1237-9

Oral anticoagulants not used enough

Oral anticoagulants (OAC) are often not prescribed to patients who are eligible under current guidelines, according to a French study.

Of 370 patients who were hospitalised for stroke and who had a previously known nonvalvular atrial fibrillation, only 22 per cent had been receiving OAC.

Researchers interviewed GPs and cardiologists and found lack of knowledge of trials and guidelines was one of the main reasons for not prescribing OAC.

British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 2004; 57:798-806

Elderly confused over flu vaccination

Elderly or chronically ill patients who have not been vaccinated for influenza often believe they are sufficiently resistant or do not realise vaccination is recommended, according to a Dutch study. Researchers analysed questionnaire data from 4,037 patients who were eligible for vaccination.

Among those who had been vaccinated, the existence of a chronic condition was most often given as the reason. The results may prove useful for directing future information campaigns.

Vaccine 2004;22:2163-70-

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