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Defending life from the moment of conception

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Britain "has highest neo-natal mortality in western Europe"

1 March 2007

Britain has the highest rate of neo-natal mortality in western Europe, according to research carried out at St Thomas' Hospital, London, on behalf of Tommy's, a charity that sponsors research into miscarriage and premature birth. There are 5.1 deaths per 1,000 births in Britain, compared with 3.1 in Sweden. Professor Lucilla Poston who compiled the research said significant factors were obese mothers and IVF multiple births. However, it is not clear whether the Tommy's study looked at these issues in particular. [Times, 28 February]

At a public seminar organised by the House of Commons science and technology committee, the government's chief science adviser, Sir David King, called on the government not to ban the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos. He said that extracting stem cells from these embryos would enable scientists to learn more about diseases such as Alzheimer's, and that it should be strictly regulated under licence from the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority. Also speaking at the seminar, the author A N Wilson said that scientists were blurring the distinction between what is human and what is animal but "even if that resulted in the end of all the diseases on the planet, it wouldn't necessarily make it a good thing." [Guardian, 28 February and Daily Mail, 28 February]

Girls in Portsmouth, England, as young as 13 will be able to obtain the morning-after pill free of charge and without parental knowledge, provided they can prove their age. The pregnancy rate among 15 to 17-year-olds in Portsmouth is 26% higher than the national average. Canon David Hopgood, Dean of St John's RC Cathedral, has criticised the plan, saying that it would not solve the problem, and "They need to be looking at family life, the importance of marriage and good stable homes where children are brought up with stronger values." [ The News (Portsmouth), 28 February]

Britain's National Institute for Clinical Excellence has recommended that women's mental health should be monitored and recorded during pregnancy. About one in seven women experience a mental health disorder in the antenatal or postnatal period. [Guardian, 28 February and NICE, 28 February]

A report from the Centre for Disease Control in the US says that the rates of foetal death before 20 weeks, and perinatal deaths (death at birth or in the first seven days after) have declined between 1990 and 2003. Rates are lower among whites and Asians than other racial groups. [Medical News Today, 27 February]

An appeals panel in New York has ruled that a seven-year-old girl can sue the city over health problems which stem from injuries suffered by her mother in an accident during pregnancy. City lawyers argued that the child should have been able to survive outside the womb at the time of the injuries in order to recover damages. The appeal panel overturned an earlier decision saying that the child could make a claim as long as the injuries occurred after conception and the child was born alive. [Evening Echo, 27 February]

A research team in Australia has found that 66% of women receiving fertility treatment also use complementary medicines and therapies. The treatments may interact. [Medical News Today, 27 February]

New York's largest crisis pregnancy centre, Expectant Mother Care, has launched a mobile ultrasound clinic. The renovated mobile home carries a portable ultrasound unit, and will be parked outside the city's abortion centres to offer women free examinations, counselling and material assistance. [CWNews on EWTN, 27 February]

A research study in the US suggests that eating high-fat dairy foods reduces the risk of ovulation failure. Dr Jorge Chavarro recommends that women who want to conceive should change their diet accordingly, until they become pregnant. The scientists believe that fatty dairy products may contain a fat-soluble chemical which improves ovarian function. [Sky, 28 February]

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