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The abortion debate continues, cigarette vending machines ‘consigned to history’ and why your diet could cause a stroke

A round-up of the health news headlines on Thursday 11 October

Poor diet is putting younger people at risk of stroke, according to today’s Daily Telegraph.

The average age of someone suffering a stroke has fallen from 71 years in 1993/4 to 69 years in 2005, according to the paper.

A study published in the journal Neurology also found that 13 per cent of strokes occurred in people aged under 55 in 1993/4 - which increased to 19 per cent in 2005.

The Telegraph quotes study author Dr Brett Kissela, of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, as saying: ‘The reasons for this trend could be a rise in risk factors such as diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol.

‘Other factors, such as improved diagnosis through the increased use of MRI imaging may also be contributing.’

 

The Telegraph also carries a story - reported in the Sun and elsewhere - suggesting that consultants’ time off is putting lives at risk.

The Telegraph says not enough consultant doctors are working at nights or weekends.

It cites a new report from the Society for Acute Medicine and the Royal College of Physicians says hospitals will need to switch more consultants from weekday to weekend rotas because studies show the chance of dying in hospital is between 10 and 14 per cent higher if admitted as an emergency at the weekend than during the week.

The two organisations are calling on hospitals nationwide to ensure that a consultant is present on every acute ward for at least 12 hours a day, seven days a week, the paper says.

At most, four in 10 hospitals currently meet this ‘gold standard’.

 

The Independent weighs into the debate over abortion laws with a piece challenging Cabinet ministers’ claims that abortion laws should be tightened because of medical advances.

Infant mortality rates by length of gestation for 2010, published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics, show no improvement in survival for extremely premature babies born at 22 or 23 weeks, the Indie says.

The number of babies born at less than 24-weeks gestation who survive to mark their first birthday has not risen in the past five years, the paper says. The figures contradict remarks by politicians, including the Prime Minister, that medical advances have improved survival rates and that the time limit on abortions should therefore be shortened.

The new Minister for Women and Equality, Maria Miller, controversially reopened the abortion debate last week when she suggested that the current 24-week limit on abortions should be lowered because the ‘science has moved on’ and babies were surviving at younger and younger gestational ages, The Independent says.

 

And north of the border, The Scotsman reports that cigarette machines are ‘consigned to history’ as a bid to overthrow Scottish Government legislation fails.

The ban was due to start in October 2011, but Sinclair Collis, the UK’s largest cigarette vending operator, challenged it in the Court of Session last May, arguing it was against the European Convention on Human Rights, The Scotsman says. The challenge was rejected on appeal.

The Scottish Government said vending machines did not involve routine age-checks – unlike buying alcohol or fireworks – and argued that a ban was the ‘only way to be absolutely certain’ that under-age people did not access cigarettes from machines.

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