Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Manchester NHS Hospital Infects 7 Babies with MRSA

MRSA is generally a sign of lack of cleanliness and inattention to asepsis

SEVEN babies have tested positive for the superbug MRSA at the region's biggest maternity unit. St Mary's Hospital in the city centre has closed the three neo-natal wards on the unit to new admissions following the outbreak. It is understood MRSA was found on the skin of one baby several weeks ago. The six other cases were picked up during routine skin screening tests on Thursday. The unit cares for the sickest and most premature babies in Greater Manchester.

Doctors stress none of the babies have contracted the more serious MRSA blood infection and none are suffering any ill-effects as a result of the bacteria being found on their skin.

Staff say they have tried to isolate the affected babies in each of the three wards which are intensive care, high dependency and the special care baby unit. There are currently 27 babies on the unit.

Among those found to be carrying the bug is nine-week-old Jaylen Redshaw who was born 15 weeks early weighing just one pound eleven ounces. Today his parents, from Gorton, said they were desperately worried about their child and concerned the hospital had not informed parents soon enough. They said they were also alarmed babies had continued to be transferred from one ward to another.

Jaylen's mum Jacqui Millward, 22, who is a care assistant in an elderly residential home, said: "They told us the incubator was isolation enough, but obviously this is not the case otherwise it wouldn't have spread, would it? "It wasn't until more than six hours after the bug was diagnosed that they told us. I had taken my two-year-old daughter Kenzie on the ward earlier in the day and if other people have done the same it has probably now been spread into the community. "If people had been told earlier then obviously we would all have been able to take further precautions.

"We have now been told that we will all have to be swabbed for MRSA and cannot hold our child until the results are back. "The nurses have told us Jaylen is not in immediate danger, but he was born 15 weeks prematurely so he is obviously very vulnerable. "They told us the same nurse would be treating him and no-one else, but we later found out the same person was looking after another baby.

"There is also broken skin on his foot and on his toe, but until I raised it as an issue they had left the wounds open - that is how the condition gets into the blood. "We are so worried. We have to leave our son's life in their care. Every time the phone rings I think it is the hospital ringing to say it has got into his blood. "If us speaking out about this prompts further precautions and helps protect another child, then it has been worth it."

Hospital bosses said that premature and sick babies are now being sent to other neo-natal units a Wythenshawe, Bolton and Salford on a case by case basis. A spokeswoman for St Mary's said: "We can confirm we have temporarily restricted new admissions to the Neonatal Unit. This is due to a number of babies on the neonatal unit testing positive for MRSA. "We would like to stress however that none of these babies are currently infected; they have been identified through our weekly screening programme to be carrying the MRSA bacteria. "The infection control team is monitoring the situation very closely and, alongside our staff on the unit, have taken steps to reduce the risks to our other babies."

Last winter Salford Royal's baby unit had to be closed after two babies contracted a rare fungal infection


How immigration rules aimed at saving Britain from terrorists keep out village cricketers

Cricketers from abroad who want to play for local teams in Britain are being stopped by new rules designed to flush out terrorists and illegal immigrants. Until now, overseas players simply had to visit their local British Embassy or High Commission to satisfy officials they were entitled to a temporary UK work permit. They would produce their passport and evidence of an intention to go home again by showing a return air ticket. The process took a matter of days.

But now, under strict new rules laid down by the UK Border Agency, scores of foreign players have been unable to come to Britain in time for the new season. Shadow Immigration Minister Damian Green said last night: ‘We are now in the ridiculous position where the Government can’t keep out the people we don’t want in the country, and won’t let in the people we do want. ‘The chaos in the immigration system is never ending.’

The new rules require foreign players to qualify for a temporary work visa through a new points system. They must prove they have earned at least £20,000 a year, have no criminal record and possess sufficient funds to support themselves in the UK. They must be sponsored by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and supply fingerprints to verify their identity.

The cricketers, mostly professionals in their own country, must then be interviewed by British consular officials.

Many town and village teams pay overseas professionals to turn out for them, with some of the most successful clubs able to pay their star imports thousands of pounds a game. The clubs – who are allowed to field one foreign professional each – are up in arms.

Australian professional Ryan Broad, 27, a right-hand batsman and medium-pace bowler known as ‘Dagger’, was due in the UK over a week ago to play for Bacup Cricket Club in the Lancashire League. But Broad, who is an opening batsman for Queensland, is still waiting for his application to be cleared.

Bacup’s captain Peter Killelea said: ‘Throughout the country this cricket season, many clubs will be forced to at least start the season without their chosen professional or even to do without them completely. ‘This will have devastating effects on their already precarious financial positions. I actually imagine many cricket clubs may fail to reach the end of the season.’

Thornaby Cricket Club in Stockton-on-Tees, Cleveland, was expecting Khurram Shezhad, a 25-year-old Pakistani batsman and right-hand spin bowler, to arrive last month to play for its first team and coach youngsters. He is still awaiting permission and will have missed five matches with Thornaby by next week. James Carter, Thornaby’s chairman, said: ‘It is hugely frustrating.’

A Border Agency spokesman said: ‘These checks are a crucial part of securing the border. They have already detected at least 5,000 false identities. We complete most applications within a week.’ [A PROMPT British bureaucracy?? Don't believe it]


Baby food attacked for fat, sugar and salt content

This fad is now becoming really dangerous. Babies need fat and salt and sugar. There are enough pediatric deaths from hyponatremia (insufficient salt) already. See e.g. here

Parents are unwittingly feeding their babies and young children on items that may be worse for their health than junk food, researchers say. Sustain, which campaigns for healthier children’s food, found that a cheeseburger and chocolate biscuits were more nutritious than some food specifically marketed for babies.

An audit of more than 100 products aimed at the infant and children’s market has even raised questions over Farley’s Original Rusk, a popular food that has been used to wean babies for 120 years. The biscuit, made by Heinz, contains more sugar than McVitie’s dark chocolate digestives, according to Sustain. Another alleged offender, also made by Heinz, is Toddler’s Own mini cheese biscuits, said to have more saturated fat per 100 grams than a McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese.

Only half of all products in the survey were low in saturated fat, salt and sugar, with the tally for Heinz products just one in four. In the case of Cow&Gate, one in nine products was high in sugars.

What may be particularly disturbing to parents is that one product, Cow&Gate Baby Balance biscuits, contained trans fats that are linked to coronary heart disease. Yet there was no mention of this on the label, which is a legal requirement. The company has decided to discontinue this range of biscuits but only after being confronted by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

When Sustain campaigners first approached the company with the findings, they were told there were no trans fats in the product. It was two days later before the company came clean and admitted presence of trans fats. Even then Cow&Gate insisted that small amounts of trans fats did not cause a health risk. It conceded that if there were concrete evidence that trans fats were dangerous, they would be dropped from the biscuits.

The health lobby is alarmed because almost a decade ago a similar study exposed high levels of sugar, saturated fat and salt in food for babies and children, yet it would appear that little action has been taken.

Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, is being urged to obtain a commitment from all children’s food manufacturers to devise new recipes for their products, remove trans fats and reduce sugar, saturated fat and salt. Sustain is also calling for the Government to develop specific labels for children’s foods so that parents can see at a glance whether a product is healthy.

Christine Haigh, joint co-ordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign run by Sustain, said that the results were staggering. “Many foods marketed for babies and young children are often advertised as ‘healthy’. In reality, in terms of sugar and saturated fat content, some are worse than junk food. In particular, failing correctly to label products that contain dangerous trans fats is outrageous,” she said.

Heinz hit out at the findings and said that it was misleading to compare its range of Toddler’s Own mini cheese biscuits with a McDonald’s quarter pounder. A spokesman said that the biscuits came in a 25g portion size and contained only 1.8g saturated fat per serving, because of the inclusion of cheese in the product. The McDonald's burger, however, was a 194g portion size and contained 13g saturated fat per serving.

He also defended Farley’s Original Rusks and said that Heinz had introduced alternatives with 30 per cent reduced sugar content than the original recipe, Farley’s reduced sugar rusks and reduced sugar banana.

Cow&Gate confirmed that it had already discontinued the range of baby biscuits found with trans fats and defended its range of other products. In a statement the company said: “Three of these are biscuits, which require sugar in the recipe and contain 18 per cent total sugar, which is less than most comparable adult varieties and other baby biscuits. The other product is a 100 per cent fruit purée that contains no added sugar and only the sugar naturally present in the fruit.”

The FSA said: “Babies and young children have different nutritional needs to adults and do not generally need low-fat diets, as fats give them energy and provides some fat soluble vitamins. Babies and young children need foods that provide a high density of calories and nutrients in a small amount of foods as they only have small stomachs.” Its advice to parents was to check labels on children’s processed foods and choose items with low salt and sugar.

Sustain conducted the survey in March. The charity, an alliance for improved food and farming, is also funded by the British Heart Foundation.


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