Wednesday, May 06, 2009

New rules label a quarter of British one-year-olds as 'too heavy'

The food Fascists have turned what once would have been regarded as a thriving infant into a problem. Note the very correct cloth nappy (diaper) below

He's a great baby above, red hair and all. I would be delighted if he were mine -- JR

The new guidelines for feeding babies are an effort to curb Britain's obesity problem. Parents will be told to feed their babies less under new guidance to stem Britain's growing obesity crisis. Growth charts that have been used for 20 years are to be ripped up in an effort to stop children being overfed. But experts said last night the revised advice could see one in four one-year-olds re-classified as 'too heavy'.

The charts - devised by the World Health Organisation - are intended to reflect the slower weight-gain of breastfeeding babies, rather than the faster growth of those fed on formula milk. They replace measures used since 1990, which contributed to the obesity crisis because they were based on the growth of babies predominantly fed with formula milk. Infants given the high-protein bottled milk tend to be larger and gain weight more rapidly.

Health visitors using the out-of-date charts may have told some mothers to top up breast milk with the bottle - or even to stop breastfeeding altogether, it is claimed.

The new charts are backed by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and cover children up to the age of four. They state that in the first year of life, the 'ideal' weight will be around a pound (half a kilo) lighter, compared to the previous model, meaning that around a quarter of babies will be classified as too heavy.

Tam Fry, chairman of the Child Growth Foundation, which has been campaigning for the charts to be adopted, said it would make a big difference in the first year. Up to a quarter will 'shift up a level' on the adapted graph, he said. 'More children will be classified as overweight and obese in the early years of life based on weight gain in the first year, which is a real marker for future health.' He added: 'Our concern is, the training of health professionals is way behind schedule, with the first courses not due until next month, which will leave many mothers without the advice they need.'

Most experts agree breast milk is the best source of nutrition for babies, and the Department of Health recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to the age of six months. At present, only 25 per cent of mothers in the UK breastfeed their babies at least some of the time for the first six months, and many of these also give their babies some formula.

The WHO charts are based on records of 8,000 babies from six cities around the world, who were exclusively breastfed for at least four months, with continued breastfeeding into their second year. None of the children in the study was from smoking households.

In the UK, more than a quarter of five to 12-year-olds are overweight or obese, due partly to overfeeding in their infancy, research shows. Belinda Phipps, of the National Childbirth Trust, said: 'Health visitors have given misleading advice because the charts are based on formula-fed babies. 'Breastfed babies tend to be lighter but we have a cultural belief that heavier is better.

'Mothers have been worried and health visitors have been worried about babies being too light, when that should be normal. As a result mothers were encouraged to overfeed their babies, by giving them formula milk unnecessarily. 'This either replaced breastfeeding or was given as a topup, which actually interrupted breastfeeding and often brought it to an end. 'We're now dealing with the long-term health implications for mother and baby, which include overweight children, simply because we've been using the wrong charts.'

A Department of Health spokesman said: 'The new UK-WHO growth charts will not only provide more accurate measurements for infant growth of breastfed babies, but will also help healthcare professionals and parents to identify early signs of overweight or obesity and provide support.'

Charts are used to assess a child's progress based on weight and length/height, in bands according to age in weeks or months. Existing measures say a healthy one-year-old weighs between 22.5lb and 28.5lb. But the new version says the ideal range is between 21lb and 26lb. The range of 'healthy' weights for all ages will be narrower, with slightly fewer deemed underweight.

Rapid weight-gain is regarded as most hazardous in the first year. It has been linked [speculatively] to obesity and increased risk of cancer and heart disease in later life.


Dangerous NHS care "after hours"

A foreign on-call doctor [above], who admitted killing an elderly patient with a morphine overdose on his first ever shift in Britain, has escaped prison because of a legal loophole. German doctor Daniel Ubani, who specialises in anti-ageing medicine and cosmetic surgery, was employed as a locum to provide out of hours care from a base in Suffolk. During his first day's cover in Britain he was called to the Cambridgeshire home of 70-year-old David Gray who was suffering from kidney pains for a routine visit. But instead of administering pethidine - a moderate painkiller - to the patient, Dr Ubani injected him with 10 times the dose of morphine, after confusing the two drugs due to tiredness. Three hours after the consultation, Mr Gray died at his home in Manea.

The death exposes the flaws in the current system of out-of-hours care which is reliant on foreign doctors who are unfamiliar with British practices and have no previous knowledge of their patients. Many foreign doctors travel for hours before starting a shift. But critics believe such a commute could leave medics tired - and put patients' health at risk.

In 2004, about 90 per cent of GP surgeries chose to stop providing night-time and weekend care - so the service is provided by external agencies in most parts of the country. In rural and deprived areas it is particularly hard to find British doctors to do the work, so foreigners increasingly fill the gaps. Nearly half of Britain's surgeries hire overseas doctors. Almost a third of practices in Northumberland, Tyneside and East Anglia employ GPs from overseas.

The NHS watchdog Care Quality Commission has launched an investigation saying: 'This is a deeply disturbing case and one that must be thoroughly looked into.'

As soon as they were informed of the death, Suffolk Doctors On Call, the agency who hired Dr Ubani, dismissed him and he flew back to his clinic in Germany. Detectives from Cambridgeshire Police began an immediate investigation and following post mortem examinations, a forensic pathologist concluded the cause of death was diamorphine poisoning. In March, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) issued a European Arrest Warrant to bring Dr Ubani back to the UK with the prospect of charging him with manslaughter.

But two weeks later, British prosecutors were told legal action against the doctor had been started in Germany. To the dismay of his family, he then pleaded guilty to manslaughter in front of a German Court, who sentenced him to a nine-month suspended prison sentence and €5000 (£4,500) fine.

The CPS are now likely to close their case against Dr Ubani, as under the double-jeopardy rule people cannot be prosecuted twice for the same crime unless there are specific exceptions. His son Rory Gray, said: 'We are very disappointed that no-one is going to be held responsible. We wanted him to return to Britain to face justice.'

Mr Gray's partner, Lynda Bubb, who had called the out-of-hours service, said: 'I want no-one else to go through what we have been through. They have to work out a way this does not happen again.' It is believed the family are now considering taking civil action against Dr Ubani.

Writing to the family, Dr Ubani, who has been a GP in Germany for 22 years, blamed his mistake on exhaustion and asked for forgiveness. He said: 'It is with a very heavy heart that I write you this letter to express my deepest sympathy and remorse for the fatal mistake that I made and the circumstances that led to the untimely death of your believed father.' He added: 'There is no amount of remorse, grief or explanation on my part that can satisfy or replace the life your father and head of your family. 'The circumstances arose from the confusion between the drugs pethidine and diamorphine, which was administered in a very high dosage.'

Dr Ubani said he was under 'tremendous stress' before taking over his shift. He flew in from Germany, and then took a car hire drive to Colchester to meet my job agency for instructions. He later drove to Ipswich for coaching, before heading to Newmarket Hospital where he was based. He said: 'My nerves were overstretched, I was too tired and lacked concentration and these factors played a major role in the mistake that occurred.'

Suffolk Doctors On Call, which supplies doctors for Take Care Now, one of the Britain's leading independent healthcare providers, said it has now changed its procedures.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Police said: 'A thorough investigation was conducted into this matter in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service. 'We had completed the complex process of obtaining arrest warrants for Europe and are disappointed that any subsequent prosecution was not allowed to reach its natural conclusion in this country.'


British hospital that banned paintings of churches

Hatred of Christianity from the British elite again

It was supposed to be a kind gesture to brighten up a hospital for patients. But a council managed to enrage local artists when it asked them to contribute their paintings to hang in wards. In an unsolicited letter, Havering council in East London made it clear it would accept pictures of any subject - except churches.

The explanation given was that the hospital had to be 'mindful of all religious denominations'. Many artists could not understand why images of Christian buildings were banned, but those of other religions were welcome.

Jo Delaney, the council's arts development officer wrote to art groups in Havering about hanging paintings in Queen's Hospital, Romford. She wrote: 'Whilst the building is spacious, it has many plain black walls which are crying out to be brightened up! 'The matron of patient environment is keen for local artists to use the space as a gallery. 'The hospital has asked artists not to submit paintings of churches as they have to be mindful of all religious denominations.'

Artist Roy Storey said that when he phoned the council to complain he was told it was the matron's decision if she did not want pictures of churches. Local painter Beryl O'Brien, 71, said: 'There are so many religious beliefs, why would they pick on churches? 'What about synagogues? A painting is a good picture because it is a good composition, not because of the religion. 'It seems ridiculous to try to be so inclusive, and by doing that exclude people who are tolerant to some extent.' Mrs O'Brien said the hospital had tainted what was a 'lovely idea'. She did not know anyone who had submitted a painting yet.

A Havering council spokesman said the terms of the initiative were set by the hospital and the council had only been asked to pass on the information. A spokesman for Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS trust said its director of nursing had no knowledge of the letter's content and therefore it had no comment.


Many serious offenders do not go to court at all in Britain

Magistrates want ministers to halt the widening of on-the-spot fines for offenders, warning that serious crimes are not reaching the courts. They have told Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, that the use of the fines in cases involving assault is undermining confidence in the justice system.

Defence solicitors say that serious offences are being dealt with inappropriately, or not at all, for lack of police time and resources. A dossier collated by Edward Garnier, QC, the Conservative justice spokesman, indicates lawyers’ concerns that their clients are being “let off” over alleged assaults and even rape rather than prosecuted. Out-of-court penalties now account for half of all cases “brought to justice” in England and Wales, and Mr Straw plans to consult on extending their scope to a further 21 offences.

According to magistrates and lawyers, the system is already being abused. Magistrates have drawn up a list of circumstances in which on-the-spot fines or penalty notices should not be used. These include where an offender has caused injury, has previous convictions or cautions for disorder offences or planned the crime. John Thornhill, of the Magistrates’ Association, said that some minor offences could be dealt with out of court but other offences should be brought before the court so that “justice can be seen to be done” and treatment — such as where there is a problem with drink or drugs — can be arranged.

Mr Straw has indicated that he may exclude shoplifting from the proposed new list of offences. Possession of cannabis is to remain on it. In a paper to Mr Straw the magistrates say that in one area of Staffordshire a solicitor has claimed that only two of 12 suspects interviewed by police are being charged. “One or two may be given a fixed penalty or caution, but the majority are being allowed to leave on the basis that there is insufficient evidence,” it says.

Mr Garnier, who approached law firms in the West Midlands, said: “Sometimes the accused gets off scot-free; sometimes they are given a caution. The solicitors say that this is partly caused by overwork and partly because the police have too much to do without chasing evidence for an over-cautious Crown Prosecution Service.” To take the matter to court “would involve too much paperwork and administrative hassle when the chances of potential witnesses coming to court to give evidence are pretty slim”.

A lawyer who had a case in which the victim of a serious assault required stitches to the head said: “We fail to see how this assault could be dealt with by way of caution as it was, according to the victim, accompanied by a threat to kill, the use of a weapon and a repeated attack.”

Mr Garnier said: “My concern is that people who on the face of it have committed serious crimes are being let off when at the very least they should be charged and prosecuted. It’s for the courts to decide the guilt or innocence of a defendant — it is not for the desk sergeant to make that decision.”

The Justice Ministry defended out-of-court penalties as an efficient use of resources: they “enable police to deal swiftly with low-level offending, freeing them to spend more time on frontline duties and investigating violent, dangerous or sexual offences as well as freeing up court time for more serious offences. Out-of-court disposals are not suitable for contested or more serious cases and would not normally be considered for those who offend repeatedly.”


Tamil asylum seekers can stay in Britain after threatening to commit suicide if deported

Most Tamils live in India so they could go to India in perfect safety

Two Tamil asylum seekers have won the right to stay in Britain after they threatened to commit suicide if deported. Three Appeal Court judges ruled that sending the brother and sister back to Sri Lanka to kill themselves would breach their human rights.

But Home Office ministers are furious at the ruling, which they fear will become a precedent offering an easy way for any would-be refugee or illegal immigrant to stay in the UK. Until now, the courts have considered the likelihood of torture or mistreatment when ruling on deportation cases - rather than a deportee's own fears and state of mind. Immigration minister Phil Woolas claimed the judgment 'defied common sense' and said he would appeal to the House of Lords.

The Tamils, who have not been named, arrived in Britain in 2003 claiming they had been raped and tortured in prison in Sri Lanka as a result of the decades-long civil war between the government and Tamil separatists. Their claim for refugee status was rejected but they have battled deportation ever since and won a ground-breaking victory in the Appeal Court last week. Lord Justice Sedley, Lady Justice Arden and Lord Justice Moses ruled that sending them home would breach their right to life in the European Convention on Human Rights.

The news comes as thousands are expected to attend a rally in Trafalgar Square today calling for an amnesty for illegal foreign workers.

The Home Office maintains that the siblings could safely travel back to Sri Lanka, and that their threat of suicide is based on a 'subjective fear' of mistreatment. But three Appeal Court judges accepted that if the man and woman were deported then their 'only perceived means of escape' from their situation would be to take their own lives - meaning that sending them home would breach their right to life under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Lord Justice Sedley, sitting with Lady Justice Arden and Lord Justice Moses, said: 'Hope can alleviate intolerable stress. Take away hope and stress may become unbearable. 'Lifting the threat of removal would remove one of the principal sources of depression.'

Britain's courts have until now considered similar deportation legal battles on the facts relating to conditions in the country in question, and the likelihood of torture or mistreatment - rather than a deportee's own fears and state of mind. By taking the threat of suicide into account the Appeal Court has apparently torn up that principle, attaching far greater legal weight to the deportee's belief about the danger they might face in their homeland.

Phil Woolas said: 'We will appeal and consider our legal options. 'The judgement goes well beyond the intention of Parliament and defies common sense.' Britain already struggles to enforce deportations in many cases due to human rights laws, with removals often delayed for years by challenges grinding through the courts. Abu Qatada, the man described as Osama bin Laden's ambassador to Europe, is fighting against his deportation to Jordan by claiming that he faces torture or death.

Details of the latest case emerged as the Government came under further pressure to allow an amnesty for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants living in Britain. Thousands of people are expected to attend a rally in Trafalgar Square today supporting the 'Strangers into Citizens' campaign, calling for an 'earned amnesty' for illegal foreign workers in the UK - whose number are estimated at between 500,000 and 950,000. They claim 'regularising' the status of illegal immigrants would increase tax revenues by £1billion a year and prevent exploitation.

But opponents claim similar amnesties in other countries have simply attracted even greater numbers of illegal immigrants who arrive in expectation of another amnesty in future.


British schools in poor areas 'fail bright pupils': High fliers at 11 'miss out on up to four GCSE grades'

Bright children who go to struggling comprehensives don't achieve their potential at GCSE [Junior school exam], researchers say. A study shows that those considered high fliers at 11 are significantly less likely to gain top grades at GCSE if they are at deprived secondary schools. The difference could be as much as four GCSE grades - for example, slipping from eight As to four As and four Bs.

These findings made ' uncomfortable reading' for politicians, said researchers from the London School of Economics. The report also found pupils do better if they are taught with high-achieving, middle-class pupils, confirming the link between GCSE performance and mixed-ability classes. [A non-sequitur. It shows the importance of HIGH ability schoolmates] And it warned that the Government's 'gifted and talented' scheme, designed to reassure middle-class parents the state system stretches bright children, appears to have little impact for many. Poor pupil behaviour, mediocre teaching and an over-reliance on vocational courses are likely to be to blame.

'The attainment of otherwise similar pupils in deprived schools lags significantly behind those in the more advantaged schools,' said researchers working on behalf of the Sutton Trust education charity. 'The findings are unequivocal, and make for uncomfortable reading for parents and policy makers alike.'

The study tracked 550,000 pupils who took Sats [grade school exam] at 11 in 2001 until they took their GCSEs. Secondary schools were categorised according to the number of pupils eligible for free meals because of family poverty. At the most-deprived 10 per cent, up to half the children had free meals. And at those schools, half the pupils did worse at GCSE than those with similar ability at schools with little deprivation. They gained two-and-a-half grades less over eight GCSEs, on average.

For those who had been in the top 10 per cent in their year aged 11, the results were even worse. They were penalised twice over - doing worse in their GCSEs, and taking vocational courses when they could have tackled extra GCSEs. On average, those high fliers achieved half a grade less across their GCSEs than those at advantaged schools, dropping the equivalent of four grades over eight GCSEs.

However, since many at deprived schools more likely to take a vocational course, many of these may not have even taken eight GCSEs. They were ten times more likely to take an intermediate GNVQ than peers in better-off schools. GNVQs are being phased out after an outcry over their high weighting in national school league tables even though they require considerably less teaching time than equivalent GCSEs. The report warned that high-achievers were being 'entered for examinations which serve to improve schools' "league table" positions but may not be in the best long term interests of the pupils concerned'.

There was also evidence of a 'peer effect' - suggesting pupils at more advantaged schools benefit from having classmates with higher levels of prior attainment, and lower levels of deprivation. It added: 'Questions will also be raised about whether the Government's current gifted and talented programme is operating effectively in all schools, particularly those with the most deprived intakes.'

The divide in achievement between pupils of similar ability, 'could be due to a number of factors associated with advantaged schools, from better pupil behaviour to more effective teaching', it adds.

Dr Philip Noden, who co-wrote the study, said: 'This is an attainment gap that needs to be closed so that parents know their children will make good progress whatever the social mix of the school.' And it warned ministers are overstating their success in narrowing the gap between poorer and more affluent pupils by ignoring 40,000 'hidden poor' in their calculations.

The study reinforces research in the Mail last month, showing that poorer children are failing to win places at university because of substandard comprehensive schooling - not because academics are biased.


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