News In Brief


BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 15 November 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:1010

Obese women should lose weight before fertility treatment: Guidelines from the British Fertility Society published in the journal Human Fertility say that treatment should be deferred if an obese woman's body mass index (BMI) exceeds 35 (2007 Nov 7 doi: 10.1080/14647270701731290). Women younger than 37 should aim to reduce their BMI to less than 30 to maximise the effectiveness and reduce the risks of treatments.

Tougher alcohol laws needed to prevent serious health problems: The UK government should make alcohol more expensive and reconsider its 24 hour availability to reduce the serious health problems related to heavy drinking, says a report from the Nuffield Council of Bioethics ( A new coalition of 24 organisations, the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, is also calling on the government to take tougher measures to prevent the rise in alcohol related diseases.

Fewer assaults seen against NHS staff: NHS staff were physically assaulted 55 709 times in England in 2006-7, a drop of nearly 3000 from 2005-6. Staff working in mental health and learning disability settings bore the brunt of the violence, with more than 41 500 assaults this year. The biggest drop was seen in assaults against staff in primary care.

Measures brought in to control cholera in Congo: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has stepped up efforts to curb the spread of cholera in five refugee camps in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. At the end of October there were 439 suspected cases—189 reported between 24 and 28 October. The number of new admissions fell to 135 in the first week of November.

Scientific facilities 80% over budget: Teams who plan and develop large scientific facilities in the United Kingdom often lack the project management and commercial skills to deliver them on time and within budget, says a report from the Public Accounts Committee ( “It is alarming that the running costs of two of the six most advanced projects are likely to top initial estimates by a whopping 80%,” said Edward Leigh MP, chairman of the committee.

Hallmark apologises for inappropriate card: A promise last year by the greetings card maker Hallmark to ban a birthday card that made fun of people with acromegaly has backfired. The company mistakenly reprinted the card and sold it in stationers W H Smith. This week the company apologised, destroyed the cards, and donated £5000 (€7200; $10 500) to the Pituitary Foundation charity (

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