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NIHR Signal Omega-3 supplements do not prevent heart disease, stroke or death
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements from fish oils or plants have little or no effect on the risk of heart disease, stroke or overall death rates. This finding contradicts a widespread belief that omega-3 supplements are protective. Previous evidence in favour of omega-3 supplements is mainly derived from trials at high risk of bias. The better evidence identified in this review does not demonstrate any health benefit. The review provides robust evidence confirming current guidance that omega-3 supp...
NIHR Signal Inducing labour at or after 41 weeks reduces risks to infants
Inducing labour after the due date slightly lowers the risk of stillbirth or infant death soon after birth compared with watchful waiting. But the overall risk is very low. Induced deliveries may reduce admissions to the neonatal intensive care unit. Pregnant women having induced labour are less likely to have a caesarean section than those who wait for labour to begin naturally. They may have a slightly higher chance of needing an assisted vaginal birth (for example, using forceps or vacuum ex...
NIHR Signal People with osteoarthritis can benefit from exercise but may harbour myths about safety
Programmes that show people with osteoarthritis how to exercise safely may slightly improve pain scores, self-belief and social function, but participants also report the myth that discomfort while exercising indicates on-going harm. The review combines evidence from 21 randomised controlled trials evaluating exercise in hip or knee osteoarthritis with 12 studies where people receiving the intervention were interviewed about the impact of exercise on their disease. Participants were men and wom...
NIHR Signal Cognitive behavioural therapy could benefit adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Cognitive behavioural therapy improves the core symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults, compared with a range of other treatments. This Cochrane review found a general trend for improvements in inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness, especially when therapy was combined with medication. The review included trials that compared cognitive behavioural therapy to other specific interventions or to a range of control conditions, including waiting list and no trea...
NIHR Signal Testing oxygen levels of newborn babies helps find serious heart defects
Measuring oxygen levels in newborn babies as part of routine care can identify cases of critical congenital heart defects sooner than waiting until symptoms appear. If 10,000 babies were screened, pulse oximetry could correctly identify about 5 of the 6 expected asymptomatic cases and might miss one. This international research suggests there would be about 14 false alarms. Waiting until babies are at least 24 hours old minimises the number of these false positives. Babies with critical heart d...
NIHR Signal One week of steroids may be as effective as two weeks in managing severe COPD
A shorter course of steroids lasting 3 to 7 days appears as effective as the recommended 7 to 14-day standard treatment for managing a flare-up of severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This update to an earlier Cochrane review looked at randomised clinical trials comparing a short course (7 days or fewer) with a longer course (7 to 14 days) of steroids given by mouth or injection. All participants had been admitted to hospital, but none required mechanical ventilation. The evidence sug...
NIHR Signal Vaccination likely to reduce influenza in healthy children
In healthy children aged two to 16, vaccines are likely to reduce laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza and may reduce the risk of influenza-like illness compared to placebo. Seven children need to receive the live vaccine to prevent one case of confirmed influenza. Twenty children need to be vaccinated to prevent one case of influenza-like illness. This updated Cochrane review included 41 trials of either live attenuated (weakened) or inactivated influenza vaccines, with over 200,000 partici...
NIHR Signal Plastic wraps or bags keep pre-term infants warm immediately after birth
Cheap and simple plastic wrapping used in the first 10 minutes after birth helps pre-term and low birth weight infants avoid hypothermia. Infants treated in this way are likely to be warmer when admitted to neonatal intensive care than those treated according to standard care. Pre-term infants are most likely to benefit. Routine infant care usually involves ensuring the delivery room is warm, drying the infant immediately after birth, wrapping the infant in pre-warmed dry blankets and pre-warmi...
NIHR Signal Probiotics can prevent bacterial diarrhoea in hospital patients receiving antibiotics
Giving probiotics to people taking antibiotics reduces the chance of them developing diarrhoea caused by Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) bacteria by 60%. One case of Clostridium-associated diarrhoea was prevented for every 42 people receiving probiotics. They appear to work best for patients at more than 5% risk of Clostridium infection. When antibiotics disturb healthy gut bacteria, Clostridium bacteria may multiply to toxic levels, causing diarrhoea and serious intestinal complications. ...
NIHR Signal Sending patient reminders improves immunisation uptake
Contacting patients by telephone or mail about recommended immunisations leads to eight more people in every 100 being immunised. Text messages, postcards or automatic dialling techniques and recorded voices are the reminder methods that have the highest certainty of being effective. In the UK over 90% of children currently receive the recommended immunisation programme, but this is still below optimal to prevent infection. The uptake of the influenza vaccination in over 65s is also below natio...
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