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Defending life
from conception to natural death


News, 18 June 2004

18 June 2004

18 June 2004 Scientists from Edinburgh University have found that exposure to excess hormones in the womb may not only increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes later in life, but may pass health problems on to the next generation. Dr Mandy Drake, one of the researchers, said: "We believe that exposing the developing baby to excess steroid hormones can alter the expression of key genes which affect foetal growth and later risk of disease which can be passed on to the next generation." The research, funded by the British Heart Foundation, was published in American Journal of Physiology. [BBC, 18 June ] Members of Japan's Council for Science and Technology Policy ethics committee are divided over human embryo research. Japanese law currently bans the production of human embryos for research but it contains a provision that it should be reviewed in June 2004. However, the council have been unable to reach agreement about whether or not to legalise human cloning and the council chairman has said that he will call a vote if an agreement is not reached. [Medical News Today, 18 June ] The Mental Capacity Bill, published today, will enable people to make 'living wills' detailing advanced decisions for medical care or its withdrawal if they lose mental capacity. The bill will also allow people to nominate a third party to make decisions about their health care if they become incapacitated. [BBC, 18 June ] 20% of first-born babies begin life with an absent father, according to research presented at the Parent Child 2004 International Conference on the Family. The study looked at 18,000 families and children born in 2001 and 2002, comparing the circumstances of married, cohabiting and single parents. 85% of single mothers said that their pregnancy was 'unplanned' compared with 52% of cohabiting couples and 18% of married couples. [ITV, 18 June ]

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