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In Depth Articles

Ross River Virus Spread and Suppression

January 16, 2019

Ross River virus is Australia’s most common mosquito-borne disease. It infects around 4,000 people a year and, despite being named after a river in North Queensland, is found in all states and territories, including Tasmania.
While the disease isn’t fatal, it can cause debilitating joint pain, swelling and fatigue lasting weeks …

Baby Boozers

While it appears the message about risky drinking is getting through to younger Australians, baby boomers are as bad as ever.
According to a research letter appearing in the latest edition of the MJA, the proportion of 55-70-year-olds who could be classed as high-risk drinkers has risen over the last 15 …

Here’s why Doctors are Backing Pill Testing at Music Festivals Across Australia

January 09, 2019

For many years experts in the field of drug policy in Australia have known existing policies are failing. Crude messages (calls for total abstinence: “just say no to drugs”) and even cruder enforcement strategies (harsher penalties, criminalisation of drug users) have had no impact on the use of drugs or …

Safety Data on Ondansetron in Pregnancy

Finally, we’ve got some robust evidence to answer the question – is ondansetron safe to take for morning sickness.
Published in JAMA, a very large retrospective study involving over 1.8 million pregnancies, almost 90,000 of which included exposure to ondansetron in the first trimester has found that taking the drug did …

ADHD Scripts on the Rise but that’s Not a Bad Thing

December 12, 2018

The rate of medications dispensed for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children aged 17 and under increased by 30% between 2013-14 and 2016-17.
The Australian Atlas for Healthcare Variation, released today, shows around 14,000 prescriptions were dispensed per 100,000 children aged 17 and under in 2016-17, compared with around 11,000 in …

Body Fat more Important than BMI in Breast Cancer

Women with a normal BMI can no longer tick off weight as breast cancer risk factor, US researchers say.
According to their study, published in JAMA Oncology, it’s body fat that increases the risk even if the woman falls into a healthy weight range.
The study was in fact a secondary analysis …

Health Check: How Long Should I Wait Between Pregnancies?

December 05, 2018

Women often wonder what the “right” length of time is after giving birth before getting pregnant again. A recent Canadian study suggests 12-18 months between pregnancies is ideal for most women.
But the period between pregnancies, and whether a shorter or longer period poses risks, is still contested, especially when it …

Child Too Short? Too Tall? What to Do

Short or tall stature is considered to be height below or above the 3rd or 97th percentile respectively.
Abnormal growth velocity, showing on serial height measurements, is also an important finding.
Growth charts based on the US NHANES study are available from www.cdc.gov/growthcharts/charts.htm. Copies of growth charts, together with height velocity and …

Probiotics Don’t Help in Kids’ Gastro

November 28, 2018

Giving children with acute gastroenteritis probiotics will not help them recover more quickly, according to two large randomised controlled trials. At least if the probiotic includes Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
The research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, provides solid evidence against the adjunctive treatment, which, as the study authors point …

Antidepressants in Pregnancy

“Be patient with yourself… nothing in Nature blooms all year.” One of my favourite quotes regarding perinatal depression and anxiety which affects 10-16% of all new parents.
The importance of perinatal mental health cannot be overstated. Research has shown that an untreated perinatal mental health condition can lead to substance misuse, …

Intellectual Disability More Likely with Some ART

November 21, 2018

Australian research has found an increased risk of intellectual disability with some forms of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).
The WA study published in Pediatrics found that one in 48 children conceived using ART were diagnosed with an intellectual disability, compared with only one in 59 children conceived naturally.
And the risk was …

Parvovirus Infection: Trivial Except when It’s Not

Each year, around late winter to spring, we see an increase in the number of serologically-confirmed infections with parvovirus B19. These infections are usually trivial in nature and benign in outcome, but there are important exceptions to this rule. This article will review the typical presentation and course of infection …