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In Depth Articles

Knee replacement: last resort only

March 28, 2017

Contemplating joint replacement surgery for that dodgy knee? You might want to think twice, according to US researchers after their study showed the procedure didn’t necessarily do much to improve quality of life.
The study, published in the BMJ (1) analysed data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative which involved almost 4500 people …

Measles – would you recognise it?

It has been in the news everywhere. Two children and an adult in NSW have recently been diagnosed with measles.
Having presented at a number of health facilities prior to receiving their diagnosis, it would seem hundreds of fellow patients may now be at risk. The alarmist headlines follow similar cases …

Bottled Sunshine Protects Against Colds

March 21, 2017

Vitamin D supplements protect against acute respiratory infections, according to a UK study published in the BMJ. (1)
The meta-analysis of 25 randomised controlled trials involving almost 11000 participants, aged 0 to 95 years, found a significant overall protective effect of vitamin D supplementation against acute respiratory infections, with the number …

A Quick Reminder: Review Drugs Before Pregnancy.

March 15, 2017

General practitioners will be well aware of the need to review the use of drugs in pregnant women. Some drugs can potentially harm the developing baby and cause abnormalities of structure (congenital malformations) or function (disturbances of growth and development). Common drugs which can potentially cause serious fetal problems include …

Girls with Early First Periods Become Women with Greater Risk of Gestational Diabetes

As a young girl, getting your period for the first time is a big deal. It comes with mental and social expectations around “becoming a woman” and a host of cultural practices that act to celebrate or stigmatise menstruation.
But evidence now suggests the timing of this event could also have …

A Dash Of Hope

The old adage states ‘you are what you eat’ but these days perhaps it would be more appropriate to say ‘you were what you ate.’
A recent analysis of data from the ongoing NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys) study suggests almost half (45.4%) of the cardiometabolic deaths that occurred …

Having A Baby? Have A Shot

March 08, 2017

Reassurance for Pauline Hanson followers, with a new Australian study showing flu vaccine given to women at any stage of pregnancy is safe in terms of preterm birth and infant birthweight.
The FluMum study, published recently in the journal Vaccine looked at over 7100 pregnant women, a third of whom received …

Look Before You Prick

Government health authorities have recently gone in to overdrive warning GPs of the contraindications for giving the new shingles vaccine, Zostavax.
The flurry of alerts follow the death of a patient here in Australia who was given the vaccine despite being immunocompromised.
This contraindication is not new however the authorities are obviously …

How fake drugs end up in our public health system (and how to spot them)

February 28, 2017

Prescribing and using pharmaceuticals is a matter of trust. Health service providers and patients need to know medicines are genuine. “Counterfeit” medicines that do not contain enough, or any, of the pharmacologically active ingredients are potentially harmful.
For example, you would not want to use medicines adulterated with brick dust, …

Delays and confusion cloud roll-out of new cervical cancer screening program

Australia’s new national cervical cancer screening program has had a bad week.
The government announced it would delay the May 1 roll-out of its new program until Dec 1, 2017. And a petition opposing the new program swept social media.
But it’s not all bad news. The delay gives the Standing Committee …

New study shows more time walking means less time in hospital

February 22, 2017

In my practice as a GP, I have been impressed by a few energetic and active 80 year olds who remain in good health while many their age have succumbed to various chronic diseases. So in 2005, when the University of Newcastle established a large community based health study of …

Imaging study confirms differences in ADHD brains

The prestigious journal The Lancet has published a large study identifying differences in the brains of people diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
It found ADHD is associated with the delayed development of five brain regions, and should be considered a brain disorder. This is vindication for people experiencing ADHD whose …