A desire to eat clay, especially while pregnant, is widespread throughout the world. The real reasons aren’t well understood, though tradition, perceived health benefits, and a craving caused by the smell of clay baking may all play a role. In Bangladesh the baked clay is called sikor; Claudia Hammond talks to Dr Parvez Haris about his new research which found high levels of toxic substances in sikor imported to Britain from Bangladesh.
More and more people are being bitten by bats carrying rabies in Peru. Health teams have started vaccinating villagers against the virus in remote regions of the Amazon, while researchers are trying to discover why there seems to be an increase in the numbers of biting incidents. Reporter Dan Collyns reports from an area of rainforest bordering Ecuador affected by this problem.
If pregnant women with HIV take anti-retroviral drugs and steps are taken to prevent transmission of the virus during childbirth, the risk of passing the virus to their child can be as low as 1%. There are now hundreds of thousands of babies born free from HIV, even though their mothers have it. But new research conducted in Cape Town, South Africa finds that those babies might still have a weaker immune system than other infants.
John O’Donoghue, a poet born in London to Irish parents, lost his father when he was just 14. His mother, stricken with grief, became ill and ended up in an asylum on the outskirts of London. John was fostered, but shortly afterwards he found himself having treatment in the very same asylum. He wrote about his experiences in the award-winning Sectioned - A Life Interrupted, and talks to Claudia about the part writing played in his life in and out of the mental healthcare system.