‘A tragedy created by greed’. Mounting pressure for a women’s mesh sling operation to be withdrawn

Ely Standard - Mon, 29/08/2016 - 20:19

A third American state is suing the makers of a pelvic mesh sling which is the most commonly used brand in UK hospitals.

Categories: Local Press

Villager’s Garden Nightmare of four-year battle with cannibal slugs

Ely Standard - Sun, 28/08/2016 - 18:19

A Suffolk gardener who has been waging war on ‘cannibalistic’ slugs for the last four years will be sharing her Garden Nightmare with the nation this week.

Categories: Local Press

Baby doll simulators may actually increase teen pregnancy rates

NHS Choices - Behind the Headlines - Fri, 26/08/2016 - 17:35

"Young girls exposed to electronic babies – designed to simulate the real experience of having a baby and discourage teenage pregnancy – were more likely to get pregnant," The Guardian reports.

"Infant simulators" – dolls that mimic the need of a baby in terms of feeding and nappy changing through crying – are meant to show the challenges of looking after a real baby.

A new Australian study investigated the effect of using Virtual Infant Parenting (VIP) – a type of infant simulator programme – for teenage girls on pregnancy outcomes of birth and induced abortion in Australia.

Results suggest the programme doesn't help prevent teen pregnancies, it actually increases the risk.

Of girls in the intervention group, 17% got pregnant at least once in their teenage years compared with 11% in the control group (who received standard advice).

Some local authorities in England have used VIP type programmes, with varying degrees of success.

The study reinforces the fact that even the most well-meaning interventions, unless backed up by actual evidence, can have the opposite effect to those intended. Most notoriously, previous advice that babies should sleep on their stomach, is now known to be a potential cause of death from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). 

Most UK experts would argue that the most effective methods of preventing teen pregnancy are access to non-judgemental relationship advice and cheap reliable contraception. These methods, as recently reported, may have led to a 50% drop in teen pregnancies since 1998.


Where did the story come from?

The Australian study was carried out by researchers from a number of institutions, including the University of Western Australia, The University of Adelaide and The University of Notre Dame, Australia.

The study was funded by The Health Promotion Research Foundation of Western Australia (Healthway), Lotteries WA, the Western Australian Department of Education and Training, and the Western Australian Department of Health. The study was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet.

The Mail Online provides the most accurate summary of the study, with a useful overview of the history of use of infant simulator programmes by local authorities in the UK, such as Birmingham, West Sussex and South Yorkshire.

This good reporting is let down by the fact that the webpage featuring the story contains a promotional video for a US company that sells "virtual infants".


What kind of research was this?

This was a cluster randomised controlled trial (RCT) which aimed to investigate the effect of using Virtual Infant Parenting (VIP) programmes for teenage girls on pregnancy outcomes of birth and induced abortion in Australia.

Randomised controlled trials are considered the gold standard for assessing whether an intervention is effective. "Cluster" means that groups of participants, rather than individuals are randomised to each intervention arm. The nature of this trial means that the participants and health professionals involved were not able to be blinded, however, it is unclear whether the researchers who analysed the data were.


What did the research involve?

The researchers enrolled 57 eligible schools in Perth, Australia into the trial which were randomly allocated 1:1 to receive the VIP programme (28 schools) or the standard health education curriculum (29 schools).

Between 2003 and 2006, both interventions were administered to girls aged 13-15 (mean age 14.9) in the included schools. A total of 2,834 girls were included in the study (1,267 in the VIP programme and 1,567 in the standard education programme).

Alongside caring for a simulation doll, participants also received a series of education sessions highlighting sexual health, contraception and the financial aspects of having a baby.

The researchers followed the participants until the age of 20 via hospital medical and abortion clinic records, noting the occurrence of pregnancy (defined as live birth, still birth or induced abortion) during the teenage years.

The data was analysed to test for differences in pregnancy rates between the two study groups. Only the first pregnancy was used in this analysis. Potential confounders were adjusted for, including:

  • socioeconomic status
  • family type
  • whether the girl had ever had sex
  • whether she had ever had responsibility caring for a baby
  • educational attainment
  • her level of psychological distress
  • whether she drank alcohol
  • current smoker status


What were the basic results?

Overall, the findings showed that girls who took part in the VIP programme were more likely to have a recorded pregnancy compared to those who received the standard curriculum.

Overall, 378 (13%) of the 2,834 girls in the study got pregnant at least once (birth or abortion) in their teenage years. The proportion of girls recording pregnancy events was higher in the intervention group: 17% (210/1,267) versus 11% (168/1,567) in the control group. This meant that the intervention was associated with significantly higher pregnancy rate (relative risk 1.36, 95% confidence interval 1.10 to 1.67).

Additionally, the proportion of girls in the intervention giving birth was also higher when compared with the control group: 8% (97 of 1,267) and 4% (67 of 1,567), respectively. However, it is important to note that the control group did have 300 more participants than the intervention group, so proportions may have differed had the numbers been equally matched.

Three-quarters of the 378 girls had recorded just one pregnancy event. The remaining 93 recorded more than one pregnancy, with 19 or more having two or more births and 26 having two or more induced abortions.


How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers concluded: "This study shows that the infant simulator-based VIP programme did not reduce the risk of pregnancy in teenage girls in Australia, as measured by births and induced abortions. Point estimates for the effect of the intervention were increased, suggesting a higher pregnancy risk in girls who experienced the VIP programme than in those who did not."



This trial investigated the effect of using Virtual Infant Parenting (VIP) programmes for teenage girls on pregnancy outcomes of birth and induced abortion in Australia. Contrary to what may have been expected, it found that girls who took part in the VIP programme were actually more likely to have a recorded pregnancy (birth or induced abortion) compared to those who received the standard curriculum.

This trial had a good study design and a suitable sample size; however, there are a few things to bear in mind:

  • While these findings are interesting, this was an Australian study. Social and lifestyle factors may differ from girls in the UK.
  • This intervention was targeted at girls aged 13-15, and may have had different outcomes had it been trialled on girls of different age.
  • The programme specifically focused on girls, whereas boys play an equal part in teenage pregnancies. In the US, similar programmes are received by both boys and girls.

In an accompanying editorial in The Lancet, health researcher Julie Quinlivan offers a number of suggestions why the Australian scheme had the opposite effect. These include (as mentioned above) "it takes two to tango" so teen boys received no training, and teen girls using dolls may have received positive feedback.

The current approach in this country is based on providing non-judgemental advice on sex and relationships (including how it's always okay to say no) as well as information about and access to contraception.  

Links To The Headlines

Girls exposed to 'electronic babies' more likely to become pregnant, study finds. The Guardian, August 25 2016

Lifelike baby dolls designed to deter teenagers from having children actually RAISE pregnancy rates. Daily Mail, August 26 2016

Lifelike baby dolls designed to deter teenage pregnancies actually have opposite effect, scientists find. The Daily Telegraph, August 26 2016

Concerns raised over teenage pregnancy 'magic dolls'. BBC News, August 26 2016

Links To Science

Brinkman SA, Johnson SE, Codde JP, et al. Efficacy of infant simulator programmes to prevent teenage pregnancy: a school-based cluster randomised controlled trial in Western Australia. The Lancet. Published online August 25 2016

Categories: NHS Choices

Number of people using alcohol treatment services in Fenland rises by 63 per cent - the highest in Cambridgeshire

Ely Standard - Fri, 26/08/2016 - 16:57

A council report has revealed that Fenland has experienced the highest increase in the number of people referring to alcohol treatment services in the county.

Categories: Local Press

‘For sale’ boards go up at historic Wisbech Castle - thought to have been originally built by William the Conqueror

Ely Standard - Fri, 26/08/2016 - 16:53

Historic Wisbech Castle – reported to have been originally built by William the Conqueror- is for sale.

Categories: Local Press

Jump into the brilliant world of books at Littleport Library Book Festival

Ely Standard - Fri, 26/08/2016 - 14:50

Littleport Library is inviting the town to delve into the world of books at its annual Book Festival.

Categories: Local Press

Still time to join the growing fund-raising army of Girls Night Out

Newmarket Journal - Fri, 26/08/2016 - 13:54
There is still time to join the army of more than 2,000 women who have signed up for St Nicholas Hospice Care’s Girls Night Out.
Categories: Local Press

Dog Day warning on illegally imported puppies

Newmarket Journal - Fri, 26/08/2016 - 12:38
Puppy buyers are being warned by Suffolk Trading Standards to take care not to buy illegally imported animals
Categories: Local Press

Cambridgeshire police clamp down on hare coursing as season is set to start

Ely Standard - Fri, 26/08/2016 - 12:35

“Don’t come hare coursing in Cambridgeshire” is the clear message from local police as they look to clamp down on the activity.

Categories: Local Press

Birds of a feather flock to.. Ely Museum as youngsters get craft

Ely Standard - Fri, 26/08/2016 - 12:30

Dozens of creative youngsters tried their hand at making birds of all shapes and sizes during the latest instalment of Ely Museum’s summer holiday schedule.

Categories: Local Press

Warning of up to 50mm of bank holiday rain across the east

Newmarket Journal - Fri, 26/08/2016 - 11:41
It is only to be expected for a bank holiday weekend, but the Met Office has today issued a heavy rain on Saturday and Sunday.
Categories: Local Press

At least 100 turned away from public meeting at Rosmini Centre, Wisbech, as health chiefs again under estimate numbers wanting to protest over threat to minor injuries at North Cambs Hospital, Doddington and Ely

Ely Standard - Fri, 26/08/2016 - 10:11

MP Steve Barclay – who was sent the leaked document revealing the threat to local minor injuries unit-, was initially turned away from a public meeting last night called to discuss their future.

Categories: Local Press

Woman taken to hospital with minor injuries after head-on crash with tractor on A141 between Chatteris and Warboys

Ely Standard - Fri, 26/08/2016 - 10:01

A woman was taken to hospital after her car was involved in a head-on collision with a tractor on the A141 between Chatteris and Warboys.

Categories: Local Press

Record collection for charity by Ely Folk Festival morris sides

Ely Standard - Fri, 26/08/2016 - 09:56

Despite torrential rain during their procession around Ely over the folk festival this year, the morris dance sides collected a magnificent £1,062 for the festival’s chosen local charity for 2016 – Branching Out.

Categories: Local Press

Colleges continue to back Business Awards

Newmarket Journal - Fri, 26/08/2016 - 06:35
Caring for the environment is about making sure there is a world to pass on to future generations, so it is apt a college is sponsoring our ‘green’ award.
Categories: Local Press

Excess body fat now linked to 13 different types of cancer

NHS Choices - Behind the Headlines - Thu, 25/08/2016 - 18:30

"Experts have linked eight more cancers to being overweight or obese, nearly tripling the list from five to 13," the Daily Mail reports.

This is the latest finding of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a group of cancer experts from around the world that look at risk factors for cancer. 

What is the basis for these reports?

The headlines are based on a report published in the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine.

The report is not exactly new research, but a review of previously published studies that looked at the link between weight and cancers.

It is the result of a working group of international cancer researchers who met to review the evidence in April this year.

They reviewed studies in humans, animals and basic science to see whether the group's previous conclusions, published in 2002, needed to be updated.

The group's new report concludes that, "the absence of excess body fatness lowers the risk of most cancers", also saying that losing weight intentionally may help prevent cancer.

They list 13 cancers where they say there is "sufficient" evidence to conclude that being a healthy weight reduces the risk of cancer, three where there is "limited" evidence, and eight where the evidence is "inadequate".

The cancers they identify as having sufficient evidence to link them to weight are:

The degree of increased risk ranged from an almost fivefold increase for oesophageal cancer in the highest BMI category compared with people with a normal weight (relative risk [RR] 4.8; 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.0 to 7.7), to a 10% increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer (RR 1.1, 95% CI 1.1 to 1.2).

What is the link between cancer and weight?

Scientists have known for some time that people who are overweight have an increased risk of certain cancers compared with people of a healthy weight.

A healthy weight is usually defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9. People are classed as overweight if their BMI is 25 to 29.9 and obese if their BMI is 30 or over. BMI is calculated from weight and height.

Almost all of the evidence linking being overweight and cancer is from epidemiological studies, which look at large groups of people and then calculate how likely people of different weights are to have been diagnosed with cancer, compared with people of a healthy weight.

Many of these studies also try to take account of other factors that can affect cancer risk, such as whether people smoke, whether they exercise, and how healthy their diet is.

But it's hard to account for all other factors, so individual studies can't really show whether being overweight causes cancer.

When reviewed together, however, and when studies show that the more overweight someone is, the more likely they are to get cancer, the chances are higher that the research is showing that weight has a causal effect.

A report by the IARC in 2002 said there was enough evidence to say being overweight increased the risk of eight cancers, all of which are included in the new list of 13.

Since then other studies have strengthened the evidence, so the IARC now feels it has enough evidence to list these 13 cancers.

How does weight and cancer affect you?

Carrying excess body weight has a number of health risks, including a greater chance of having a heart attack or stroke, as well as being linked to a raised risk of the cancers listed above.

The easiest way to keep to a healthy weight is to avoid putting weight on, but if you already weigh more than you like, diet and exercise can help you achieve a healthier weight.

Talk to your GP or see our 12-week plan to lose weight through healthy eating and physical activity.

Weight is not the only factor that affects the risk of cancer. Although there's no proven way to avoid cancer altogether, you can lower your risk of getting cancer if you:

Links To The Headlines

The big fat cancer curse: Scientists link obesity to thirteen types of disease including the ovaries, stomach and liver. Daily Mail, August 24 2016

Putting on weight can increase risk of 13 different cancers new study claims. Daily Mirror, August 24 2016

Fat cancer threat: obesity found to trigger 8 more types of cancer. The Sun, August 25 2016

Obesity is linked to more cancers. The Times, August 25 2016 (subscription required)

Links To Science

Lauby-Secretan B, Scoccianti C, Loomis D, et al. Body Fatness and Cancer — Viewpoint of the IARC Working Group. The New England Journal of Medicine. Published online August 25 2016

Categories: NHS Choices

Crash on A141 between Chatteris and Warboys leaves car in field and tractor badly damaged

Ely Standard - Thu, 25/08/2016 - 17:44

A car was left on its side in a field after reportedly being involved in a head on crash with a tractor on the A141.

Categories: Local Press

Stonea parents to take on epic tractor ride in memory of Mikayla – a real outdoors girl

Ely Standard - Thu, 25/08/2016 - 17:08

With her dazzling smile little Mikayla was a shining light of love and laughter.

Categories: Local Press

Rare birds stop off at Welney Wetland Centre on their international journeys

Ely Standard - Thu, 25/08/2016 - 16:30

Rare birds heading for Southern Europe and Africa have been spotted at the WWT Welney Wetland Centre.

Categories: Local Press

GCSEs boost for schools in Suffolk

Newmarket Journal - Thu, 25/08/2016 - 15:49
More of Suffolk’s 16 year olds achieved expected levels of GCSE attainment in English and maths this year, it has emerged today.
Categories: Local Press