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Controversial changes to maternity care in west Wales begin

Doctor using stethoscope on pregnant woman
The changes come into effect today Credit: PA

Controversial changes to complex baby care in West Wales begin today.

Health bosses at Hywel Dda local health board are moving consultant led maternity services from Withybush hospital in Pembrokeshire, to Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen.

The plans have sparked protests in the area and on the steps of the Senedd.

The new neonatal unit at Glangwili Hospital will be operational from today.

BHF: We have a breakthrough - now we need a cure

Sudden cardiac death - which came to prominence when foootballer Fabrice Muamba suffered a near-fatal heart attack during a game - kills over 600 people under the age of 34 every year.

Now scientists at Cardiff University have identified the faulty gene that causes the condition, giving hope that a cure could be within reach.

Today we spoke to Professor Jeremy Pearson from the British Heart Foundation, who says he is encouraged by the breakthrough.

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Scientists solve sudden cardiac death mystery

Heart specialists at Cardiff University have, for the first time, discovered the cause of sudden cardiac death in young children.

Heart scan
Credit: PA Images

Scientists have found that incoherent communication between two proteins in heart cells was to blame for the previously unexplained cause of death.

"A healthy and regular heartbeat is maintained by precise control of the calcium level in heart muscle cells, but our experiments have identified a genetic flaw that invites chaos to this process."

– Professor Tony Lai, Cardiff University

In the future, Professor Lai anticipates that the finding will give doctors a new weapon in the fight against sudden cardiac death.

"Uncovering genetic links like this is vital to help combat the devastating effects of inherited heart conditions. The British Heart Foundation is urgently campaigning for more research to help find the undiscovered faulty genes putting people at greater risk of heart disease."

– Professor Jeremy Pearson, British Heart Foundation

1 in 3 people in Wales with asthma not getting checks

A third of people with asthma in Wales are missing out on essential annual reviews to check if they're on the right medication. Charity Asthma UK have looked at government figures and found many people in Wales are missing out on essential annual reviews. Megan Boot reports:

Asthma UK have provided a survey to help people understand the care they are entitled to - http://www.asthma.org.uk/compareyourcare

Merthyr Tydfil tops list for children with weight issues

Merthyr Tydfil has the highest percentage of 5-year-olds who are overweight or obese, according to figures from Public Health Wales.

The figures are part of a report which shows over a quarter of 5-year-olds in Wales have an unhealthy weight, compared to just over a fifth of those in England.

Overweight stats
The graph shows the percentage of 5-year-olds who are overweight or obese in each area Credit: Public Health Wales

Merthyr Tydfil tops the list for weight issues in young children, with 34% regarded as overweight.

Monmouthshire (21%) and the Vale of Glamorgan (22%) have the lowest number of children classed as overweight.

Welsh Government: Annual asthma checks are 'key'

The Welsh Government are urging patients with asthma to talk to their GP to see how to manage their condition.

It comes as a report from Asthma UK Cymru reveals that a third of people with asthma in Wales are missing out on essential checks to see if they are on the right medication or can use their inhalers properly.

Asthma pump
A report from Asthma UK Cymru found a third of people with the condition don't have their annual checks Credit: PA

Our recently launched plan to tackle respiratory illness includes the requirement for all asthma patients to have personalised self-management plans and receive their key annual checks. Patients have a key role to play in this and we would encourage them to talk to their GP about what they can do together to manage their condition more effectively.

– Welsh Government Spokesperson

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Public Health Wales: Childhood obesity 'must be tackled now'

A new report out today by Public Health Wales reveals over a quarter of five year olds in Wales have an unhealthy BMI.

The report looked at the prevalence of obesity in children living in areas with the highest levels of deprivation, compared to the lowest levels.

It found areas like Merthyr Tydfil, Gwynedd and Bridgend had the highest number of overweight or obese children.

"Simple and easy steps such as replacing fizzy drinks with water, and snacking on fruit instead of chocolate or crisps are the answer for so many children this age."

"The difference in levels of obesity in children living in areas with the highest levels of deprivation compared to the lowest levels of deprivation is worrying and needs urgent attention."

"It is something that must be tackled now by all sectors in society so children can go on to lead healthy lives into adulthood and reverse this trend."

– Linda Bailey, Public Health Wales

Welsh asthma sufferers missing crucial checks

Analysis of GP data from the Welsh Government by Asthma UK Cymru has shown that a third of people with asthma in Wales are missing out on essential checks to see if they are on the right medication or can use their inhalers properly

Asthma
A third of people with asthma in Wales are missing crucial checks. Credit: Clive Gee/PA

In a recent review into asthma deaths across the UK, it was found that prescribing errors were linked to nearly half of all deaths, and that 83% of those who died should've had improvements in their care. It also highlighted that 43% of those who died failed to have an annual review of their asthma in the previous 12 months.

"The fact that a third of people with asthma in Wales are not having their medicines checked at their annual review is putting people at risk of a potentially fatal asthma attack. With the worrying scale of prescribing errors identified by the National Review of Asthma Deaths, it's vital that doctors and nurses do everything they can to follow up with patients to review their medicines, especially as asthma can vary hugely over the year."

– John Mathias - Asthma UK Cymru

The review also highlighted regional differences across health boards regarding annual check ups. Hywel Dda Local Health Board had the lowest percentage of patients attending at 62.9%, with Cardiff & Vale University LHB having the most patients at 70.7%.

Quarter of five-year-olds have 'unhealthy BMI'

Child standing on weighing scales with teddy on floor
Public Health Wales measured almost 30,000 children as part of the research Credit: PA

Over a quarter (26%) of five year olds in Wales have an unhealthy body mass index (BMI), compared to just over a fifth of five year olds across the border in England.

The findings, published by Public Health Wales, did show 73% of children measured had a BMI, which was classified as healthy. But, of those classified as unhealthy, 11% were classified as obese.

The report uses information gathered by school health teams on the heights and weights of children in reception year in Wales.

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