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MPs’ warning over NHS efficiency savings, swine flu deaths return and are children too clean for their own good?

By Steve Nowottny

Our roundup of health news headlines on Tuesday 14 December.

The Daily Mail reports a warning from the Alzheimer's Society that the real number of dementia sufferers is more than twice what the official NHS figures show.

The charity claims there are actually around 575,000 people suffering with dementia in England, compared to the 249,463 who have been formally diagnosed – and says the stats ‘highlight that people are not visiting their GP and even if they do, diagnoses are not being made'.

The Guardian covers a report by the Health Committee out today with the conclusions from its inquiry into public expenditure – and it's likely to make uncomfortable reading for Andrew Lansley. The committee of MPs warn the Government ‘has no "credible plan" to make NHS savings of £20bn by 2014', the paper reports. It also demands the health secretary puts a realistic price tag on his commissioning reforms, with the following jibe: ‘It is unhelpful for the government to continue to cite the £1.7bn figure, as it does not relate to specific proposals.'

The Daily Mail heralds the return of a familiar foe with the headline: ‘GPs' alarm as deadly swine flu returns with a vengeance'.

The article, which follows on from similar pieces on Monday and over the weekend, reports that the H1N1 virus has killed ten people under the age of 65 in the past six weeks alone.

And finally, are children too clean for their own good? Apparently so, if a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation and covered by the Press Association and the Daily Telegraph is anything to go by.

US and Japanese scientists found that a childhood dose of flu could help protect against asthma, leading Dr Dale Umetsu, of the Harvard Medical School in Boston, US, to conclude: ‘Our results suggest that infection with certain micro-organisms can prevent the subsequent development of asthma and allergy by expanding the relative proportion of a specific subset of NKT cells, thus providing an immunological mechanism for the hygiene hypothesis.'

The only caveat? The study occurred in an experiment with mice. But baby mice are DEFINITELY too clean for their own good…

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

Daily digest