Archive | October, 2014

Mother and child

28 Oct

We all know:
– that vaccines are very effective (but nothing is perfect) at preventing nasty – even fatal – diseases in childhood;
– that vaccination for kids starts at 2 months of age; and that therefore
– there is a gap in protecting children between birth and their first vaccination at 6-8 weeks of age.

We also know that this is the age group that suffers the most severe disease if they do contract an infection like pertussis (whooping cough).

So how to best prevent newborns from getting infected?

New research from England shows that immunising mothers during pregnancy against whooping cough will decrease the chances of the baby getting whooping cough by around 70%. That’s a great decrease in infection risk, and prevents an incredibly distressing illness. Even if not fatal, whooping cough can make a child very sick (see this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3oZrMGDMMw)

If you are planning to get pregnant, come and see us a few months before you start trying. There’s lots to talk about!

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Forever young

27 Oct

There is an excellent saying “We don’t stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing.”
Increasingly research seems to show that our mindset can profoundly affect our health. Not just improving our mood by adopting an optimistic attitude – but actually controlling blood pressure, preventing cancer or avoiding infections.
The science is not definite, and the mechanism far from clear -but there are certainly some interesting findings. Most interestingly – it seems that thinking young can actually make you younger!
Read more in this article from the
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26/magazine/what-if-age-is-nothing-but-a-mind-set.html?_r=0

Is perfect too good?

22 Oct

A recent study in the prestigious British Medical Journal raised the question – should there be an acceptable level of mistakes that doctors can make?
Counter-intuitively, striving less hard to always be right may be safer for the patients in the long run. Every test and every treatment has a cost – and not just financially. Tests are unpleasant and time consuming, medications have side effects and surgery often painful and debilitating.
Yet often all these tests and treatments are for no purpose other than “to be sure”. If we accepted that sometimes we will miss conditions in the early stages, it may be possible to significantly decrease the number of tests and treatments we perform.
To be sure that may result in some things being missed. But it will also significantly decrease the number of problems that we cause.
Getting the balance right is the great challenge of modern medicine.

Ebola fear and facts

20 Oct

In a world where the media seems incapable of reporting fact without adding hype, it’s hard to tell the difference between issues which should cause panic and those which are just a curiosity. Where then does Ebola fit?
It’s certainly true that Ebola is a horrific disease. About three weeks after exposure, patients develop headache, fever, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea and then internal bleeding and shock. There is no specific treatment – just what the medical profession calls supportive care, which means fluids and drugs to keep up blood pressure and circulation.
In Africa, with less advanced medical support, over 70% of patients die. In Western countries, the death rate is still about 50%. By any standard, Ebola is a serious condition.
But currently the risk of Ebola is still pretty remote. There hasn’t yet been a confirmed case in Australia and only a handful in the Western world. Travellers from West Africa are now being screened; understanding of the need for case management and isolation has grown and awareness of the condition is high. The chances of Australia’s first case arising in Rowville or Lysterfield isn’t just low….it’s tiny.
Our advice is stay calm! Have a long talk to us if you are planning a trip to Africa. If you are in close contact with someone who has been to West Africa and you have concerns, please call us to discuss over the phone. In almost all cases, we will be happy to see you. If there is any significant reason for concern, we will arrange for the appropriate hospital to assess you.