ASH Daily News for 19 December 2019


  • NHS England: More centralisation needed to cut neonatal deaths
  • Greater Manchester: More than a dozen children collapse after vaping fake cannabis oil laced with ‘spice’


  • Global tobacco use among men declines for first time, WHO says
  • One in five US high school students vaped marijuana in 2019, report says




NHS England: More centralisation needed to cut neonatal deaths

NHS England has indicated there will be avoidable deaths of young babies without further centralisation of neonatal intensive care units, which it funds and oversees, so they can have ”better staffing”. A new NHSE specialised commissioning report suggests more trusts and delivery network groups should combine intensive care activity on single sites, with exceptions for particularly remote locations.

The NHSE report states that increasing NICU throughput to at least 2,000 intensive care days per year “would lead to improvements in survival, and to significant economies of scale that permit better staffing and less marked fluctuations in daily admissions”. In addition to redesigning neonatal services around set criteria, the implementation report noted providers must identify and work out how to fill significant gaps in the nursing, medical and allied health workforce. It also recommended shoring up neonatal transport services to meet increasing demand.

The report, published on NHSE’s website late last week, was drawn up to help providers implement the recommendations of a previous review of neonatal critical care; it is unclear whether this last review was made public and, if so, when. The review said more than a third of regional variation in neonatal mortality was linked to population or socioeconomic factors such as deprivation, employment and smoking. However, it said: “One fifth of the variance was explained by the type of neonatal service (NICU, local neonatal unit or special care unit) and the number of staff available.” It said: “Half of the variation was unexplained and current work is analysing the reasons behind this, including resource availability factors and underlying health issues of babies.”

Source: Health Service Journal, 19 December 2019

See also: NHSE – Implementing the Recommendations of the Neonatal Critical Care Transformation Review

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Greater Manchester: More than a dozen children collapse after vaping fake cannabis oil laced with ‘spice’

More than a dozen children in Greater Manchester have collapsed after vaping fake cannabis oil which contained the dangerous synthetic drug spice. Authorities in the city have issued a warning after testing bottles of oil used by the children during incidents in November and December at schools in Bury, Rochdale and Oldham.

The bottles were supposed to contain cannabis oil or THC, the chemical that causes a high, but were fake and had been mis-sold with some of them containing the high strength synthetic cannabinoid drug spice.

Since February there have been at least a dozen incidents, involving 17 young people, in the region. Michael Linnell, who coordinates the multi-agency Greater Manchester drug alerts panel, said the children were taking a big risk. He added: “If they inhale spice they risk the very bad reaction we have now seen on at least a dozen occasions.” The effects of spice can include an irregular heartbeat, confusion, paranoia, panic attack, insomnia, hallucinations and collapse.

Source: The Independent, 18 December 2019

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Global tobacco use among men declines for first time, WHO says

The number of male tobacco consumers is on the decline for the first time on record, a sign of progress against smoking-related illnesses, global health officials said. After two decades of steady increases of men smoking and using oral tobacco products, rates are projected to continue dropping in coming years, according to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO). Males make up more than three-quarters of the world’s tobacco consumers.

While overall global tobacco users fell by about 4% to 1.34 billion people between 2000 and 2018, that drop is largely attributable to women. Tobacco-control measures like taxes and public smoking bans are contributing to the reduction, according to the WHO, which urges governments to regulate contact with cigarette makers, in line with Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Other policies include prohibiting tobacco advertising and offering cessation support. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the data represent a “turning point in the fight against tobacco.” The number of male users is projected to fall by some 2 million next year compared to 2018 and by an additional 4 million in 2025.

Still, governments are on track to miss a target to cut global tobacco use to 30% by 2025, according to the WHO. The decline will probably be 23%, based on current progress, the WHO said. More than 8 million people die each year from tobacco-related diseases, with most of them in low- and middle-income countries, according to the WHO.

Source: Bloomberg, 18 December 2019

See also:
WHO – World Health Statistics 2018: Monitoring health for the SDGs
WHO – WHO launches new report on global tobacco use trends

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One in five US high school students vaped marijuana in 2019, report says

About one out of five high school students in the US say they vaped marijuana in the past year, according to a report released Wednesday.

Vaping nicotine is still more popular: about one in four high schoolers said they had done it at least once in the previous year. About one in seven high school seniors this year were considered current users of marijuana vaping, meaning they had vaped in the month before they took the survey, which was almost doubled from one in 13 the year before.

The survey was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which also published results of a different survey in 2018 that showed an increase in marijuana vaping among middle and high school students. Both have limitations: the surveys rely on self-reported use, and it does not include teens who are not in school. Federal and state laws ban minors from using marijuana recreationally, and prohibits sale of vaping products to kids.

Source: The Guardian, 18 December 2019

Journal of the American Medical Association: Trends in Reported Marijuana Vaping Among US Adolescents, 2017-2019
Journal of the American Medical Association: Self-reported Marijuana Use in Electronic Cigarettes Among US Youth, 2017 to 2018

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