Autism diagnoses 'could be reduced under NHS plan'

Proposals to reduce the number of children being diagnosed with autism are being considered by NHS commissioners in south-west London. The idea of restricting an autism diagnosis to only the most severe cases was discussed earlier this month. The local alliance of five clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) says nothing has been decided yet. But the National Autistic Society says it is “deeply concerned” about the plans. Board papers from a meeting of south-west London and…

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Why Greek mountain villagers have healthy hearts

Scientists have pinpointed one reason why people living in isolated villages in Greece may enjoy long and healthy lives. They found a new genetic variant, common among villagers, which appears to protect the heart by lowering levels of “bad” fats and cholesterol. Despite a diet rich in animal fat, the people of Mylopotamos in northern Crete do not suffer from cardiovascular disease. And they really love their cheese. What’s special about these Greek villages? The…

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Charlie Gard's parents fight for Supreme Court hearing

The parents of ill baby Charlie Gard who want to take their son to the US for treatment are bidding to take their case to the Supreme Court. Chris Gard and Connie Yates failed in their appeal against a High Court ruling that the eight-month-old should be moved to palliative care. They had raised £1.3m to send him to the US for a trial treatment. Lawyers representing the couple say they will now ask Supreme…

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Kettering General Hospital 'fiddled' waiting time records

Thousands of patients were removed from a hospital’s waiting lists in a bid to “fiddle” the system, it is claimed. A BBC investigation found thousands of Kettering General Hospital patients had waited a year or more for operations. David Phelan, a hospital trust governor, claims patients were removed from lists because national targets were being missed. The hospital admitted there had been “anomalies” and that a thorough review of data had been carried out. ‘Systematic…

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Ancestry.com denies exploiting users' DNA

A leading genealogy service, Ancestry.com, has denied exploiting users’ DNA following criticism of its terms and conditions. The US company’s DNA testing service has included a right to grant Ancestry a “perpetual” license to use customers’ genetic material. A New York data protection lawyer spotted the clause and published a blog warning about privacy implications. Ancestry told BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours its terms were being changed. Headquartered in Utah, Ancestry is among the…

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Fitness trackers 'poor at measuring calories burned'

Most fitness trackers are good at measuring heart rate but poor at measuring calories burned, a study suggests. As a result, people should be cautious about using them to judge what to eat, Stanford University scientists said. The study recommended that companies release data showing how their devices work out measurements. The accuracy of seven wrist devices were tested while 60 volunteers were asked to walk, run and cycle. Researchers found that six out of…

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: Ethiopian wins top WHO job

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus from Ethiopia will be the next director general of the World Health Organization (WHO). He will be the first African to head up the UN agency, after winning the most votes from 186 member states. He replaces Margaret Chan, who will step down from her 10-year post at the end of June. During her tenure, the WHO’s response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa was criticised for being too slow. The…

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'Half a glass of wine every day' increases breast cancer risk

Further evidence has emerged of the link between alcohol consumption in women and an increased risk of breast cancer. According to a report from the World Cancer Research Fund, half a glass of wine or a small beer a day increases the risk of breast cancer. It also backs up research showing that regular intensive exercise can reduce the risk of the disease. But is it really that simple? Breast cancer is by far the…

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