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Baby boom for 40-plus women, death rates plummet, and the hidden dangers of bottled water

By Gareth Iacobucci

Our roundup of health news headlines on Wednesday 26 May.

'Mothers over 40 in record baby boom ' is the eye-catching front page of the Mail today. The paper reports that the number of women giving birth after their 40th birthday has trebled in the last 20 years, with figures showing that almost 27,000 babies were born to mothers over 40 last year.

However, the Independent simultaneously reports that the birth rate in England and Wales has fallen for the first time since 2001, a figure which, inevitably, is being attributed to the nasty old recession.

The Indie goes stats crazy today, also reporting that death rates in England and Wales have fallen significantly by 25% among men and 22% among women over the last decade.

The Office of National Statistics, which compiled the figures, says a decline in smoking, improved treatment for heart diseases and earlier diagnosis of cancer have all contributed to the fall.

The Mail is again going nasty on NICE this morning, reporting that the institute has refused an appeal to approve the use of the drug Nexavar, which the paper says, will cut short the lives of hundreds of liver cancer patients.

In the Telegraph, we read the damning coroner's verdict on a case involving Britain's largest care home company, in which a pensioner died as a direct result of 'inexcusable failures' at the hands of their staff.

The Telegraph also reports that more than 1,000 children under 15 had an abortion last year

Also, in the Telegraph, we hear that a lack of exercise is apparently worse than simply being obese. Dr Richard Weiler, a specialist registrar in sport and exercise medicine, is quoted as saying a lack of fitness was the root cause of more illness than body fat alone.

And here's an intriguing one to end with. The Telegraph reports that bottled water contains more bacteria than tap water, with new research from Canada showing that some brands contain levels 100 times above permitted limits. Think about that one next time you're sipping your bottle of mountain spring.

Spotted a story we've missed? Let us know and we'll update the digest throughout the day...

Daily Digest