Why we need to talk about losing a baby

Losing a baby in pregnancy through miscarriage or stillbirth is still a taboo subject worldwide, linked to stigma and shame. Many women still do not receive appropriate and respectful care when their baby dies during pregnancy or childbirth. 

Miscarriage is the most common reason for losing a baby during pregnancy. Estimates vary, although March of Dimes, an organization that works on maternal and child health, indicates a miscarriage rate of 10-15% in women who knew they were pregnant. Pregnancy loss is defined differently around the world, but in general a baby who dies before 28 weeks of pregnancy is referred to as a miscarriage, and babies who die at or after 28 weeks are stillbirths. Every year, 2.6 million babies are stillborn, and many of these deaths are preventable. However, miscarriages and stillbirths are not systematically recorded, even in developed countries, suggesting that the numbers could be even higher.  

To read more about this go to: https://www.who.int/maternal-health/why-we-need-to-talk-about-losing-a-baby

Toxins discovered in babies’ nappies

A variety of potentially toxic substances, including the widely-used but controversial weed-killer glyphosate have been found in babies’ nappies. According to France’s national health agency Anses, some of the chemicals exceed safety levels. Anses said its nappy tests were the first of their kind in the world.

Deputy Director of Anses, Gerard Lasfargues, said: “We found a dozen substances which went over the permitted threshold. Those substances have either to do with perfume which the industry intentionally adds in nappies, primarily for marketing reasons, or substances which appear during the manufacturing process of the nappies.”

The study has prompted a quick response from the French government which has given manufacturers 15 days to come up with an action plan aimed at getting rid of the toxic substances. But it urged against panic.

Read more about this at: https://www.euronews.com/2019/01/24/toxins-discovered-in-babies-nappies

One step closer to digitalise children’s vaccination status on a European level

The ‘Digital health policies for Children’s Health’ workshop was about strengthening children’s immunisation in Europe through health data standards and about connecting patient summaries to EU vaccination cards and immunisation registries.
Immunisation information of children could be vital in emergency situations, to determine the level of immunity of a child who has been exposed to an infection risk, such as tetanus or meningitis. It can also be useful for the care professional to advise a child or parent if the child is due for a vaccine or booster or has fallen behind schedule.
This fits within the context of both the European Union and the World Health Organisation (WHO) seeking to drive higher child immunisation uptake, and effective holistic child health care.

To read more about this on the European Commission website go to: One step closer to digitalise children’s vaccination status on a European level – European Commission

The youngest smoke more 

An increasing number of children under 15 years old have started to smoke during the last 40 years in Europe.

Researchers have looked at 120,000 people from 17 European countries and one of the questions asked was when they started smoking between 1970 and 2009.

The data showed that all age groups have experienced a decline in the numbers starting smoking in this time span, except for the age group 11 – 15 years old, especially during the last 10 years.

The results showed that smoking increased most amongst young women in Western Europe, where around 40 per 1000 start smoking every year, compared to 20 in 1970. For young men in Northern Europe, the numbers have remained relatively constant.

To read more about smoking amongst children, go to: The youngest smoke more | Faculty of Medicine | University of Bergen

Adolescents drink less, but alcohol consumption is still dangerously high

A new WHO report: “Adolescent alcohol-related behaviours: trends and inequalities in the WHO European Region, 2002–2014”, provides new insights into data collected over 12 years on adolescent drinking. The report reveals that alcohol use has declined among adolescents in Europe. However, despite the reductions, levels of consumption remain dangerously high and this continues to be a major public health concern.

For more information about the report on  Adolescent alcohol consumption

Smoking and drinking damage teenagers’ arteries by age of 17

The arteries of teenagers who drink alcohol and smoke, even very occasionally, begin to stiffen by the age of 17, according to a new study. Such stiffening has been linked to heart and blood vessel problems later in life, such as heart attacks and strokes.

The study, published in the European Heart Journal on Wednesday, was based on data collected from more than 1,000 British adolescents, who provided details of their smoking and drinking habits at ages 13, 15 and 17.

“We found that in this large contemporary British cohort, drinking and smoking in adolescence, even at lower levels compared to those reported in adult studies, is associated with arterial stiffening and atherosclerosis progression,” the study’s senior author, Professor John Deanfield of University College London’s Institute of Cardiovascular Science, said in a statement.

To read more about this study to go: http://www.euronews.com/2018/08/29/smoking-and-drinking-damage-teenagers-arteries-by-age-of-17-study

Southern European countries have highest rate of childhood obesity

The latest data (2015–2017) from the WHO Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) show that southern European countries have the highest rate of child obesity. In Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, San Marino and Spain, approximately 1 in 5 boys (ranging from 18% to 21%) are obese. Denmark, France, Ireland, Latvia and Norway are among the countries with the lowest rates, ranging from 5% to 9% in either sex.

In addition to weight and height measurements, many countries also submitted nutritional data, such as eating habits, as part of the programme. Encouragingly, in several countries three quarters or more of boys and girls are eating fruit either every day or most days (4–6) of the week. These include Albania, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, Portugal, the Russian Federation (Moscow), San Marino and Turkmenistan (data from France and other countries in Scandinavia was not available here). Children in these countries also had lower consumption of foods like pizza, French fries, fried potatoes, hamburgers, sausages or meat pies, consuming them 1–3 days per week or never. Other data collected by the project include that on parent’s opinion of the child’s weight status, and also physical activity habits, although again not all of the 34 countries submitted data here

To read more about this on the WHO Europe website go to: WHO/Europe | Nutrition – Latest data shows southern European countries have highest rate of childhood obesity

Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis comments on World Blood Donor Day 2018

European Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis comments on World Blood Donor Day 2018, urging young people to step forward and donate blood in order to keep the blood banks “constantly replenished”.

In a statement on World Blood Donor Day 2018, Andriukaitis said: “Let us remember that blood is the lifeline that connects us and that we all have a pivotal role to play in donating blood to help save lives.”

He explained that blood transfusions are “a vital medical intervention used worldwide to treat a wide variety of disorders, both in emergency and non-emergency settings”.

The majority of these disorders can be life-threatening without a timely blood transfusion, which is why, he stressed, “the immediate availability of safe donor blood is paramount”.

Even better sun protection needed for children

An EU-funded study led by King’s College London suggests parents and carers might need to be even more rigorous than hitherto advised in protecting children against the harmful effects of the sun. The study shows that children may experience more harmful DNA damage than adults from small amounts of sun exposure.

Overall the project – which also includes other studies – received €3.5m (£3.1m) of EU funding, of which €665,751.8 (£583,231.9) went to King’s College London.

The scientists measured exposure to UV rays via an electronic device on the wrist that absorbed the rays. They measured levels of vitamin D alongside a urine biomarker of DNA damage that can lead to skin cancer, known as CPD, which is produced as a result of the skin repairing this damage.

To read more about this go to: EU-funded study points to need for even better sun protection for children | United Kingdom

Improving quality of life and survival for young cancer patients

Cancer in children is rare and, unlike cancer in adults, is not linked to lifestyle factors. Over the past decades, survival rates for children with cancer have improved tremendously due to advances in treatment.

However, survival rates remain low in some places where the best treatments are not always available. The inequalities are dramatic – in western Europe more than 90% of children with cancer are cured, while the figure can be less than 20% in lower-income countries of the WHO European Region

To read more about improving quality of life and survival for young cancer patients go to: WHO/Europe | Improving quality of life and survival for young cancer patients