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Health news weekly: a supplement to prevent cerebral palsy and meditation makes a happy gut

January 24, 2023

We know it can be difficult and time-consuming to wade through all the news about healthcare (much of it doom and gloom) which is why we’re here to keep you up to date with all the latest news, discoveries and innovations in our weekly round-up:

Health news weekly

A Bristol initiative to give mothers of premature babies magnesium sulphate has prevented hundreds of cases of cerebral palsy each year. The drug, which costs £1, is now used across the NHS to help prevent cases of the disorder. A study showed magnesium sulphate reduces the risk of cerebral palsy by a third. Professor of Neonatal Medicine Karen Luyt at St Michael’s Hospital, who set up the prevention of cerebral palsy in pre-term labour (PReCePT) program in 2014, is the pioneer of magnesium sulphate treatment.

The number of flu patients in English hospitals has decreased by more than a third in a week, according to data from NHS England. The data suggests that the current wave of infections may have peaked. The average number of flu patients in general hospital beds in the seven days to January 15 was 3,226, down from 4,914 the previous week. Additionally, the average for critical care beds was down from 349 to 221. The recent drop follows a surge in flu cases before Christmas, which the UK Health Security Agency described as the worst flu season in a decade.

A group of Chinese scientists from Tsinghua University in Beijing have claimed that men who consume high amounts of energy drinks, fizzy drinks, sports drinks, and sweetened tea and coffee are at greater risk of suffering from hair loss. They gathered 1,000 men who consumed between one and three litres of the drinks each week and noticed that those who consumed more than one sweetened drink each day were at a 42% greater risk of experiencing hair loss, in comparison to men who did not drink high-caffeine and sugar drinks. The study also revealed that those who ate more fast food and fewer vegetables also experienced hair loss at a faster rate, and those who have been known to experience anxiety were said to be at greater risk.

Researchers have found evidence that frequent meditation over several years may help alter the human gut, boosting the body’s immune system and reducing the risk of anxiety, depression and heart disease. In a small study of Buddhist monks, researchers found deep meditation could help regulate the gut microbiome and lower the risk of physical and mental ill health. The study is
published in the journal General Psychiatry, which is published by the British Medical Journal. However, the study was observational, and the number participating was small, all male and living at high altitude, making it difficult to draw any firm or general conclusions.