The latest important research summarised

Short summaries of the latest health research presented in plain English to promote use of research by all members of society.


Induction of labour within 24 hours, if waters break at 37 weeks of pregnancy, can reduce womb infection

Inducing labour may halve the risk of infection in the womb when waters break from 37 weeks. The procedure was started within 24 hours and was compared to waiting for labour to start on its own. Waters breaking at full term without the onset of labour is called pre-labour rupture of membranes. This can increase ...


Very strict blood sugar control in critically ill children provides no benefit

Strict control of blood sugar levels for critically ill children in ICU with high blood sugar did not increase the number of days they spent outside of ICU in the first month. The trial was stopped early as more infections and very low glucose levels were recorded in the strict control group. This trial found ...


A dose of corticosteroids benefits most women anticipating a preterm delivery

Giving corticosteroids to most women who are anticipating labour before completing 37 weeks of pregnancy helps reduce immediate health problems in the baby compared with placebo or no intervention. Deaths around the time of birth were reduced by 28% and babies were a third (34%) less likely to develop respiratory distress syndrome. A corticosteroid dose ...


A supported web-based programme helps people lose weight in the short term

A web-based programme (POWeR) with nurse support helped about 30% of people lose at least 5% of their body weight, maintained for at least 12 months. By comparison, twenty percent of people achieved this with an online information sheet only.  This research does not tell us whether POWeR alone would have provided the same benefit ...


Better prescribing might prevent thousands of strokes in the UK

One third of people who had a first stroke in the UK between 2009 and 2013 had known risk factors and were not taking the drugs that might have prevented their stroke. Electronic general practice records from almost 30,000 people who had a stroke showed that about 60% had risk factors that meant they might ...


A blood test threshold for diagnosing heart failure in general practice is reviewed

The cut-off level for the blood test NTproBNP appears to provide the best balance of detecting true cases while excluding false positives when lowered to 125 pg/ml. The trial supported by the NIHR included a sample of people presenting to their GP with suspected heart failure. It aimed to see which method was best for ...


Repetitive task training can help recovery after stroke

Following a stroke, people who received repetitive task training showed greater improvements in performing functional tasks, such as picking up a cup, standing up and walking. These improvements were sustained for up to six months. Disability following stroke is common, affecting around half of all stroke survivors. This NIHR-funded review of over thirty trials found ...


Thrombolysis may reduce complications of deep vein thrombosis

Blood clots are cleared quickly for people who develop them in the deep leg veins if they receive thrombolysis drugs alongside other treatments directly into their veins. The chance of successful break down of the clot was compared with the chance following standard anti-clotting drugs alone, such as heparin and warfarin. This Cochrane review found ...


Giving immediate antibiotics reduces deaths from sepsis

Giving immediate antibiotics (defined as within one hour) when people present to emergency departments with suspected sepsis reduces their risk of dying by a third compared with later administration. This meta-analysis of observational data from 23,596 people in emergency department settings confirmed that giving antibiotics within one hour was linked to a lower risk of ...


Fortified donor breast milk led to similar development for very-low-birthweight babies compared with formula milk

Providing very-low-birthweight babies with fortified human donor breast milk made no difference to their developmental neurological outcomes at 18 months compared with giving formula. This randomised controlled trial looked at 363 babies with birth weights of less than 1500g in neonatal intensive care units in Canada. When the mother’s own milk supply was limited, the ...

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