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Why internet diagnoses could make your surgery a happier place, the 'myth' of PMS and pregnancy complications due to SSRIs

A round-up of the health news headlines on Thursday 25 October

Cheering news from the Daily Mail for those GPs whose heart sinks when they see a patient stride into the surgery waving a sheaf of newly downloaded internet searches about their illness.  Apparently it can lead to a more beneficial consultation ‘according to researchers’.

The Mail reports a study - of 26 patients - by University College London, which found that those who bring their own information are listened to attentively by their GP and are able to build relationships with them.

And despite the increasing popularity of home diagnosis, the report found that the patients questioned said they still trusted their GP’s advice over what they found on the internet.

Meanwhile the Telegraph  runs a story claiming that mood swings associated with premenstrual syndrome ‘may be a myth’. Scientists analysed 47 English language studies, dating from 1971 to 2000, of which almost 40 per cent could not establish a link between mood and the premenstrual cycle. Almost nine per cent of studies found that females were more moody at a time during the month when their period was not due.

Some of studies found that women suffered from mood swings when their period was due, but also at other times of the month.  Only 15 per cent of the studies found a link between negative moods and the premenstrual phase.

The researchers led by Dr Sarah Romans from the University of Otago in New Zealand writing in the journal Gender Medicine, said they wanted to carry out the study to dispel common misconceptions about PMT:  ‘The human menstrual cycle has historically been the focus of myth and misinformation, leading to ideas that constrain women’s activities.’

‘The idea that any emotionality in women can be firstly attributed to their reproductive function … we’re sceptical about that.’

Still at the Telegraph we hear ‘senior doctors’ from US blue-chip institutions Harvard and Tufts say that prescribing SSRIs to pregnant women is leading to increasing rates of complications for babies exposed in utero.

The story says studies show the most widely used class of anti-depressant,  SSRIs, cause pregnancy complications including premature birth and pre-eclampsia, which can both be fatal .

Emerging research also suggests SSRIs can double the rate of autism in children, and increase the risk of lung and bowel diseases.

The situation amounts to “a large scale human experiment”, according to Dr Adam Urato, assistant professor of maternal-fetal medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts.





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