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Low birth weight 'linked to higher death rates'

Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Researchers at Cardiff University say babies born with a low birth weight are at an increased risk of death in infancy through to adolescence compared to babies born at a normal birth weight.

A team from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, led by Professor Sailesh Kotecha, examined official death rates in low birth weight babies among over 12m births in England and Wales.

The study reaffirms the need to tackle important factors such as maternal smoking and deprivation which are well known to contribute to low birth weight.

By better understanding and ameliorating influences that lead to low birth weight, deaths in infancy and beyond could be cut.

– Professor Sailesh Kotecha, Cardiff University

Cardiff's violence reduction scheme is exported

Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

A pioneering scheme developed in Cardiff to reduce violence from alcohol is to be rolled out in Australia.

The so-called Cardiff model uses data from hospital emergency departments to identify and target violence ‘hotspots’, significantly reducing cases of violence.

Now its being trialled in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra.

Details from hospitals such as the precise violence location, time, days and weapons will be shared with police, helping them to build a monthly ‘hotspot map’ of the nature, timing and characteristics of violence showing where their presence is most needed.

– Professor Jonathan Shepherd, Cardiff University

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"Substantial" reduction in serious violence across Wales and England

Researchers from Cardiff University have found a "substantial" reduction in serious violence across Wales and England.

They found a reduction in the number of people having to go to hospital over the last five years.

There's been a reduction in the numbers going to hospital Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Our study is very encouraging in demonstrating a consistent and substantial decline in violence in England and Wales, including among children.

There is increasing evidence to suggest that this decline can be attributed in part to public health interventions and improved information-sharing between health services, police and local government.

– Professor Jonathan Shepherd, Director of the Violence Research Group at Cardiff University

Researchers also think a decline in alcohol consumption has helped the situation, but do add there are areas of concern with young men between 18 - 30 still the most likely to be injured in violence.

Cardiff scientists step towards cancer breakthrough

Scientists at Cardiff University hope their work on white blood cells could help fight cancer.

The cells are part of the immune system that protect the body against infectious diseases. Now, scientists at Cardiff University hope that by redesigning those cells, they could help to fight against cancer.

If it works, it could be a major breakthrough.

Watch Rob Osborne's report.

Hallucinations: how they emerge

Credit: Cardiff University

Take a look at the image above. It probably looks like a meaningless pattern of black and white blotches.

But now take a look at the image below and then return to the picture: it’s likely that you can now make sense of the black and white image.

It is this ability that scientists at Cardiff University and the University of Cambridge believe could help explain why some people are prone to hallucinations.

Credit: Cardiff University

Researchers are exploring the idea that hallucinations come from our normal tendency to interpret the world around us by making use of predictions.

Our brains fill in any missing information by using past experiences.

A bewildering and often very frightening experience in some mental illnesses is psychosis – a loss of contact with external reality. Hallucinations can accompany psychosis.

Researchers showed black and white images to individuals showing the very early signs of psychosis along with healthy volunteers.

They were asked whether or not the image contained a person.

They were then shown a series of full colour original images, including those from which the black and white images had been derived.

The researchers reasoned that, since hallucinations may come from a greater tendency to superimpose one’s predictions on the world, people who were prone to hallucinations would be better at using this information.

They found a larger performance improvement in people with very early signs of psychosis in comparison to the healthy control group.

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Cybercrime 'poses huge challenge'

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A report by Cardiff University is highlighting the scale of cybercrime.

It says 106,681 fraud-related incidents were reported by individuals and businesses in the last three months of last year. A third related to banking and credit industry fraud.

Losses totalled £217.4m in 2014

The introduction of sophisticated technology has brought about a step-change in the way economic crime is committed – enabling frauds to be perpetrated at scale, at great speed, and at a distance, with no physical contact necessary between criminal and victim.

This type of crime challenges conventional policing models which are focused on detection and investigation because it represents a paradigm shift in the way such crimes can be committed. Policing – both in the UK and around the world – therefore faces many challenges in adapting and responding to these evolving patterns of crime.

– Dr Mike Levi, Professor of Criminology at Cardiff University

Award for satellite project team

The Herschel infrared space observatory. Credit: A9999 DB ESA/ AOES Medialab/DPA/PA Images

The Herschel and Plank project teams have been given this year's American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space Systems Award.

Cardiff University's Astronomy Instrumentation Group was involved in the design of Herschel's SPIRE instrument. Members of the School of Physics and Astronomy are analysing data from the equipment.

Herschel, which operated from May 2009 until April 2013, carried the largest telescope ever built for a space observatory. Its 3.5 m-diameter primary mirror collected long-wavelength radiation from some of the coldest and most distant objects in the Universe, which was analysed with a payload of three scientific instruments.

The Planck satellite was designed to probe the remnants of the radiation that filled the Universe immediately after the Big Bang. It did this with a payload of two instruments that required innovative cooling technology to maintain them at a fraction of a degree above absolute zero.

Cardiff researchers in project to make cities 'greener'

Cardiff has extensive parkland in the city centre Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

Cardiff University has been awarded one of 14 research grants to develop 'green infrastructure' in urban areas around the world.

Urban forestry is one example in which woodland is planted in cities to manage storm water and reduce city temperatures.

Another example is ‘green roofing’, whereby roofs are partially or completely covered in vegetation to absorb rainwater, increase insulation and, again, reduce the temperature in cities to combat the so called ‘heat island effect’.

By taking advantage of the multiple benefits of green infrastructure, we hope to provide substantial economic, social and environmental gains not only for the US and Europe, but also developing countries around the world. To do this, we will need to develop approaches that are sensitive to local culture, knowledge and expertise

– Dr Andrea Frank, Cardiff University

'Shaken baby syndrome' test developed in Cardiff

Experts at Cardiff University have developed a test to help doctors diagnose so-called shaken baby syndrome.

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Abusive Head Trauma (AHT) is the leading cause of death amongst abused children. The method employs a simple checklist of 6 signs to look for.

It is estimated that as many as 34 in every 100,000 infants less than one year of age are victims of AHT, though the true figure is unknown because many cases of AHT are missed and others may not come to the attention of clinicians.

It is vitally important that abusive head trauma is diagnosed accurately so that the team looking after the child can ensure that they receive appropriate support and are protected from further harm.

"Arriving at these decisions can be extremely difficult, especially for doctors who do not see many cases of severe child abuse. This study offers a prediction tool to help doctors make these extremely important decisions, where the life or death of a child often hangs in the balance."

– Professor Alison Kemp, Cardiff University’s School of Medicine
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