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Neo-natal specialist care "over-stretched" in UK

12 October 2007

A survey of neo-natal special care units in Britain reveals that the service is over-stretched. The Bliss charity, which conducted the survey, says that lack of funding has resulted in many units being unable to meet the recommended minimum staffing levels, and having to refuse admissions for considerable periods of time. Mothers and babies may have to travel long distances to find the appropriate facilities. Mr Andy Cole, chief executive of Bliss, expressed concern that the government gave less priority to intensive care for babies than for adults and children. [Telegraph, 11 October]

The Bishop of Colorado Springs, Colorado, has confirmed that Catholic hospitals in his diocese do not administer the Plan B morning after pill including in rape cases. Bishop Michael Sheridan said he preferred to err on the side of safety, given that one could not be certain that the pill would not cause an abortion when administered after intercourse. If the state were to require prescription of the morning after pill, he said, it would be better to withdraw from the hospitals than to act against Catholic teaching. [LifeSite, 10 October]

The Catholic Church in Spain has opposed the creation of a bioethics committee on euthanasia. Speaking on behalf of the bishops' conference, Fr Juan Martinez Camino said that the Church did not advocate treatment that prolonged suffering, but should death not be hastened either. To do so would introduce insecurity into the health care system. The minister of health last week confirmed the proposal to form a committee to handle cases of patients with untreatable diseases or who resist treatment. [Catholic News Agency, 10 October]

Guidance to be published in Britain in March says that a daily glass of wine, or its equivalent, during pregnancy will not harm the baby. The advice from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence concludes that there is no consistent evidence of adverse effects from low to moderate alcohol consumption. A spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists confirmed this conclusion, but agreed with the government's recommendation of total abstinence from alcohol during pregnancy. [Telegraph, 11 October]

A study in Malaya suggests that, contrary to popular belief, sexual intercourse will not bring on labour in late pregnancy. Dr Peng Chiong conducted a survey among 210 women who were scheduled for induced labour and found that there was no significant difference in the numbers experiencing spontaneous labour among those who were advised, a few days before, to have intercourse and those who were simply told that it would not be harmful. [Reuters, 10 October]

An international medical technology company and an Irish research institute will collaborate to develop new therapies for osteoarthritis using adult bone marrow stem cells. Mr Micheàl Martin TD, minister for enterprise, trade and employment, announced a partnership between the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at the National University of Ireland Galway and Smith and Nephew Research Centre in York, UK. REMEDI has developed technologies to grow human cartilage from adult stem cells. Ireland's Industrial Development Agency will contribute to the cost of the research, amounting to more than €6 million. [Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, 10 October]

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