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Behind the Headlines

Behind the Headlines, a service provided by the NHS, offers an unbiased and evidence-based analysis of health stories that make the news. Click here to read more about Behind the Headlines.

Screen time may increase chances of attention problems in children aged 3 to 5

18 April 2019

"How just 2 hours' screen time a day as a toddler can make children more likely to 'be badly behaved or have ADHD'," the Mail Online reports. Researchers in Canada looked at parents' reports of how much time their children spent using screens each day at age 3 and 5.

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Scan mums-to-be at 36 weeks for breech births, says study

17 April 2019

"Breech baby scan 'would save lives'," reports BBC News. Researchers in Cambridge scanned around 4,000 women at 36 weeks to see whether their babies were in the breech position, meaning their bottom would come out first.

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Statins 'do not work' for half of people prescribed them, study reports

16 April 2019

"Statins are not effective at lowering cholesterol levels for half of patients," the Daily Mirror reports. Statins are a widely used and well established medicine for lowering cholesterol. A large body of evidence has shown that statins are effective in reducing so-called "bad cholesterol", which in turn can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

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'Therapy reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome,' reports study

11 April 2019

"Answer to irritable bowel syndrome is the mind, study shows," states The Telegraph. The headline is based on research conducted in the UK involving people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). They were provided with different types of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) on top of usual treatment, compared with usual treatment alone, to help reduce their IBS symptoms.

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'Faecal transplant may help children with autism,' study suggests

10 April 2019

"Autism symptoms can be reduced 50% in children who received faecal transplants," reports the Mail Online. A new US study involving 18 children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) found an improvement in digestive and autism symptoms 2 years after receiving a faecal transplant.

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Dietary supplements 'do not help improve health outcomes'

09 April 2019

"Taking vitamin supplements does not help you live longer but may actually cause you harm, study suggests," reports the Sun. A US study reports that vitamin and mineral supplements do not reduce the risk of death. And there's a suggestion that high-dose calcium supplements could actually increase the risk. But the study is hampered by numerous limitations, so the results are not clear-cut.

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Poor diet now killing more than smoking

04 April 2019

"Bad diets killing more people globally than tobacco, study finds," reports The Guardian. In a new analysis, researchers have estimated that 11 million deaths around the world were related to poor diet. They found eating a diet high in salt, but low in fruit, wholegrains, nuts and seeds, was associated with more than half of the deaths.

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Does eating a few squares of dark chocolate a day improve blood pressure?

03 April 2019

"Eating a few squares of dark chocolate every day 'improves your blood pressure in just one month'," is the overoptimistic headline in the Mail Online. Unfortunately for chocoholics, the study involved just 30 people, so the results are not particularly robust. And all 30 were young healthy adults, so we do not know whether there would be any benefit for older people with a confirmed diagnosis of high blood pressure.

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E-cigarettes 'do not promote smoking in teens'

02 April 2019

"The sharp increase in the use of e-cigarettes has not led more British children to take up cigarettes or regard smoking as normal," The Guardian reports. There's been some concern about the popularity of e-cigarettes among young people, and whether it could increase the number of teen smokers by making smoking seem more socially acceptable.

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Children's growth patterns 'predict obesity risk before age 5'

27 March 2019

"Weighing children when they start school is already too late," reports the Mail Online. A study on childhood obesity suggests children's weight and growth patterns should be measured before they start school. One in 3 children in the UK are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school, according to Public Health England.

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Does prolonged sitting really kill 70,000 people a year in the UK?

26 March 2019

'Is sitting REALLY the new smoking? Alarming new research claims 70,000 deaths a year are caused by our increasingly sedentary lives' reports the Mail Online

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Are children's ball pits really 'riddled with killer germs'?

25 March 2019

‘Children's ball pit play areas contain dozens of killer germs,’ reports the Mail Online

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Drinking very hot tea linked with risk of 1 type of oesophageal cancer

21 March 2019

"Drinking piping hot tea or coffee could 'double your risk of developing tumours in the oesophagus'," reports the Mail Online. A study of more than 50,000 people in Iran showed that those who drank 700ml (about 2 to 3 mugs) of black tea a day at temperatures of 60C or above were almost twice as likely to go on to get oesophageal cancer during 10 years of follow-up in the study, compared with people who drank tea at lower temperatures.

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Daily use of high-strength cannabis increases risk of psychosis

20 March 2019

"High-strength cannabis increases risk of mental health problems," reports The Guardian. Researchers have estimated that people who use high-strength cannabis daily are 5 times more likely to have a first episode of psychosis. Psychosis is a mental health disorder where people become temporarily disconnected from reality and may see things that are not there, hear voices, or become paranoid or delusional.

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