New researches and new theories

  • Giving teenage boys fish at least once a week boosts their intelligence, a study suggests.

Experts found 15-year-olds who ate fish regularly scored better on IQ tests when they reached 18 than those who rarely ate it. The more fish they ate, the better they did, the child health journal Acta Paediatricareports. The link held true even when the level of the boys’ education and their parents social status was taken into account.

‘A number of studies have already shown that fish can help neurodevelopment in infants, reduce the risk of impaired cognitive function from middle age onwards and benefit babies born to women who ate fish during pregnancy.

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  • The key to exam success could be as simple – and as cheap – as a glass of water.

Children who have a drink of water before sitting tests fare up to a third better, researchers have found.

The reason why isn’t clear, but it could be that information flows more smoothly between brain cells when they are well hydrated.

‘Children who had a drink of water performed significantly better on a number of tasks. Our findings suggest that consuming water benefits cognitive performance in children.’

It is possible that water improves the flow of information between brain cells, added Dr Edmonds.

Other possibilities include the water drinkers not being distracted by feeling thirsty.

Previous studies have shown that drinking water boosts the brainpower of adults.



Child cold remedies ‘don’t work and may cause harm’

by fiona Macrae

Medicines for the under-six

Most cough and cold mixtures do not work in children and may even cause side- effects such as allergic reactions and hallucinations, the medicines watchdog has warned.

A review of popular remedies, including Lemsip powders, Day Nurse and Sudafed, by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency found ‘no robust evidence that these medicines work’ in under-12s.

More than 60 popular medicines will now be marked with warnings that they must not be given to children under six and are not recommended for those aged between six and 12.

Cough and cold remedies have been linked to the deaths of at least five British children under two and around 100 serious cases of suspected side-effects.

The alert centres on 15 ingredients found in the medicines, many of which have been used by drug companies for years.

The MHRA said it was particularly concerned about children under six being given the drugs because they weighed less than older children, were more prone to infection and were less able to tell their parents about a medicine’s effectiveness.


Dr June Raine, MHRA’s director of vigilance and risk management of medicines, said: ‘Over-the-counter medicines used to treat coughs and colds have been used for many years.

‘However, they came into use when clinical trials were not required to demonstrate that they worked in children.

‘It is not right to assume safety and efficacy based on children being “small adults”. Children should have access to medicines that are acceptably safe and designed for their use.’

Although coughs and colds could be distressing, most young children get better by themselves within a few days, she added. Suitable treatments include paracetamol to keep a child’s temperature down and honey and lemon to ease a cough.

Martin Shalley, a consultant in emergency medicine at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, said: ‘The names of these medicines are often confusing and often sound very innocuous; the dangers are only in the small print, and on top of that, there is no evidence any of these products do any good.’

The MHRA has also compiled a list of medicines that do work and are safe to use on children under six.

It includes Beechams Veno’s Honey and Lemon, Benylin Tickly Coughs, and CalCough TicklyCare Glycerin Lemon & Honey with Glucose.

The remaining remedies will not be pulled from the shelves, however, because they are still suitable for adults. Instead, they will be sold from behind the pharmacy counter only.

The changes in labelling will be phased in from later this year and should be completed by next March.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain said it considered it ‘good practice’ to restrict some remedies for young children.