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Teenage mothers to get personal nurses, why baldness may be sign of heart disease and is 'health tourism' costing the NHS billions?

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines on Thursday 4 April.

Teenage mothers are to be given their own personal nurses to act as mentors for up to three years advising them on everything from breast-feeding to keeping their boyfriend, theTelegraph reports this morning.

A new class of family nurse is to be trained to offer relationship and family planning advice and even career support to 16,000 teenage parents from deprived backgrounds.

They will combine elements of the role currently served by community midwives and health visitors with more specialist one-on-one advice ranging from teaching them how to cook for their children to helping them give up smoking and drugs.

The Government hopes that the £17.5 million project will prevent child abuse and domestic violence and reduce the chances of babies themselves growing up to become troubled youths.

Dr Dan Poulter, the health minister, said would-be mothers and – if possible - fathers would be offered specialist help as soon the pregnancy was registered in an effort to prevent problems later on.

‘It is about helping mothers and fathers understand what pregnancy and childbearing is going to be about and supporting young couples with some very basic stuff such as setting up home together and helping them understand what it is going to be like to be parents,’ he said.

He said there would be a deliberate emphasis on encouraging them to stay together if possible, reducing the prospect of the girl going on to have multiple children with multiple fathers.

But he rejected the idea that the scheme amounted to ‘nanny state’ intervention.

He added: “I think when you drill down into the evidence, whatever we would like to believe that the world should be like there are families that have difficulties, who run into trouble and teenage parents are a group who are particularly vulnerable.’

Research in the US suggested that a similar scheme almost halved the incidence of child abuse and cut A&E attendances and convictions involving young mothers.

The Independent warns that losing your hair could be the first visible sign of heart disease – but only if it is from the top of your head.

A review of studies involving almost 40,000 men has found that those with male pattern baldness – losing hair from the crown of their head – had up to a 70% increased risk of heart disease. The younger they were when they lost their hair and the greater the extent of their baldness, the higher their risk.

Men with receding hairlines can relax, however, as evidence shows they are not affected – or only slightly.

Finding a visual cue for heart disease such as hair loss is important because it can serve as an early-warning signal both to individuals to change their lifestyles and to doctors to conduct further tests to prevent the disease developing before it triggers a heart attack.

Three of the studies monitored men for at least 11 years and found those who had lost most of their hair were a third more likely to develop heart disease. Men who went bald before middle age (55-60) had a 44% higher risk. The remaining three studies showed an increased risk of 70% overall, rising to 84% among those who went bald before age 55-60. Men who lost most of their hair had more than twice the increased risk compared with those who lost only some of it.

But beware if you should find yourself in the Heathrow passport queue with a bunch of bald men, because the Telegraph warns this morning that ‘health tourism’ is costing the NHS billions.

Interviewing Professor J Meirion Thomas, a consultant surgeon at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, the newspaper writes that the cashstrapped NHS is becoming the ‘world’s maternity wing’ as mothers-to-be fly into the country to make the most of the service.

Thousands of others are flying here for cancer, HIV, kidney and infertility treatment, then simply getting back on the plane without paying, according to the cancer specialist.

Some of the foreigners travelling to Britain for treatment are so ill that they are pushed straight back on to planes in their wheelchairs after being treated for free at hospitals close to airports.

Those who travel to the country to have their children claim that they should not have to pay anything for their treatment as it is an emergency procedure, and others commit identity fraud, but the NHS is powerless, Professor Thomas said.

Spotted a story we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments and we’ll update the digest throughout the day…

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