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The rise of the ‘superbugs’, the 10-minute premature pregnancy test and 10% of kids get high – legally

Patients will be denied antibiotics for coughs and colds in a bid to staunch the ‘alarming’ growth of antibiotics resistance.

If antibiotics usage is not reduced, more people could die from infections such as multi-resistant E coli and an untreatable strain of gonorrhoea may spread, the Guardian reports.

Chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies said: ‘Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness at a rate that is alarming and irreversible – similar to global warming.’

Patients demanding medication for minor ailments will now be given a leaflet, distributed by the RCGP, explaining that antibiotics will not help them recover and will only add the spread of ‘superbugs’.

The Telegraph quotes Professor David Livermore of the Health Protection Agency: ‘Over the last ten years or so there has been a major rise in the numbers of resistant bacteria and we cannot let this go unchecked. The fact that we are using our reserve antibiotics to treat some infections is of concern, as resistance is now increasing to them too.’

Also in the Telegraph is news of a ‘revolutionary’ new test can predict within ten minutes whether a woman will give birth prematurely.

The new test, developed at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, London, and funded by Tommy’s, the baby charity, will replace an existing test which is less accurate and takes 23 minutes. Experts say it could stop thousands of women from having unnecessary treatment for suspected premature births.

The early warning system, as the Daily Mail explains, uses a cervical swab to measure a pregnancy protein in women with early contractions. The protein, fetal fibronectin (fFN), appears at the end of pregnancy. High readings mean that the woman’s chance of having a baby in the next fortnight are doubled, but those with low readings can be reassured of a ‘false alarm’ and sent home safely.

An estimated 4,000 women a year are transferred to specialist neonatal units because the existing test warns of a premature birth. But up to nine out of ten of these transfers are unnecessary. The new test could save between 1,000 and 2,000 women from needless treatment for a false alarm.

And finally, the Guardian reports a record-breaking number of new legal highs on the market this year.

The annual report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction records 57 new legal highs detected this year – with more than one new psychoactive drug on the market every week.

The rise in legal highs is being driven by online retailers in Europe, the number of which has exploded from 170 in 2010 to 693 this year.

Most of the new psychoactive substances are synthesised in China and, to a lesser extent, India. Organised crime groups are now thought to be involved in the manufacturing and sale of these legal highs.

The EU’s drug agency also reports that nearly 10 per cent of 15 to 24 year-olds in Britain have used a legal high – twice the European average of 5 per cent.