As smog finally clears in northern China - do specially-bought face masks help protect the lungs from damage from tiny particles? Professor Frank Kelly from Kings College London says that tiny, invisible particles – as well as those you can see – do cause damage to health, increasing the risk of developing cardiovascular and chronic lung disease. Millions of Chinese have been discussing the pollution on microblogs, asking what effect it will have on their health.

At one time Sierra Leone had the worst rate of maternal mortality in the world. Stung by this label, 18 months ago the government introduced free healthcare for young children and their mothers. It also banned traditional birth attendants or TBAs from delivering babies in women’s homes in order to encourage them to go to clinics or hospitals. The TBAs have been part of their communities for years – and in remote villages there are concerns that it’s hard for women to reach a clinic. So now there’s a new project to train so-called Maternal Aides, to help advise pregnant women.

Soldiers who have experienced violent combat situations show heightened activity in certain parts of the brain. Their brains are on ‘high alert’ to the possibility of violence, even if they’re not aware of it. And now the world’s first study to scan the brains of children who’ve witnessed domestic violence has found the same thing. The parts of the brain affected could put them at future risk of developing anxiety or depression. Dr Eamon McCrory who’s from University College London and the Anna Freud Centre, says the key is to now find out how some children grow up with no problems and others develop mental health problems.

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18 minutes

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Fri 9 Dec 2011 23:32 GMT

Zika: a new pandemic?

Zika virus emerggency talks

The explosive spread and impact of the mosquito-borne virus.