Inside Health - Flu vaccine and narcolepsy, Stoptober, Herbal medicines, Calcium supplements
New research linking a swine flu vaccine to child narcolepsy. Stoptober successes. Examining the current licensing system for herbal medicines. Are calcium supplements harmful?
New research has found an association between Pandemrix, a swine flu vaccine, and a rare sleep disorder in children. Fears about a pandemic of H1N1 flu, so called "swine flu", over the winter of 2009/2010 led to millions of vulnerable people across the UK, including every child under five, being offered a new vaccine. There has since been a dramatic rise in the number of children diagnosed with narcolepsy. Paul Gringras, Professor of Children's sleep medicine and neurodisability at the Evelina Children's Hospital in London, is one of the researchers investigating this link. October 1st marks the start of a mass stop smoking campaign called Stoptober. Last year, 160,000 people gave up for the month, saving themselves £25 million from not buying cigarettes. Inside Health spoke to two of them, Adrian Osborne and Donna Horton. The Traditional Herbal Medicines Registration Scheme was brought in by the Medicines Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in 2005. But there are concerns that the threshold for this type of licensing is set too low, and is misleading consumers. To debate the issue, Mark Porter is joined by resident sceptic Margaret McCartney and Dr Linda Anderson from the licensing division at the MHRA. It is thought that around five million people in the UK, most of them women, take some form of high dose calcium supplement to keep their bones healthy. But there have been a number of reports linking them to heart attacks and stroke. So what is the latest thinking on their use? Juliet Compston is Emeritus Professor of Bone Medicine at the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine.