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BMJ 2011; 342 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d3826 (Published 22 June 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3826

Homeless adults die young

More than 30 000 adults were registered homeless in Denmark between 1999 and 2009. They had a mean age under 40 years, but, by the end of the 10 years, one in six of the men (16.7%) and one in 10 (9.8%) of the women had died. The mean age at death was 50. Young homeless men in this cohort study could expect to die 22 years before their peers who were not registered homeless. For young women, homelessness truncated life expectancy by 17 years.

Well over half the cohort had at least one psychiatric diagnosis (62.4% of men and 58.2% of women). Substance misuse was the most common and the most lethal, accounting for a quarter of the deaths in men (2021/8784; 23%) and a fifth of the deaths in women (551/2856; 19.3%). In fully adjusted analyses, men and women with substance misuse disorders were significantly more likely to die than homeless people with no record of mental illness.

This study was possible because Danish authorities keep accurate records of all contacts with homeless shelters and can link people who use them to national registers of psychiatric illnesses and deaths. The picture may be worse still for homeless people who sleep rough, says a linked comment (doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60885-4), and for those who find themselves homeless in countries without Denmark’s well organised social safety net.

Rotavirus vaccine linked to rare cases of intussusception, again

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The first rotavirus vaccine was withdrawn from the market after researchers noticed extra cases of intussusception in vaccinated infants. Second generation vaccines are now in use in many countries, including Brazil and Mexico, where researchers recently reported a small but significant excess risk of intussusceptions in infants given RV1, a live attenuated oral vaccine. Extra cases peaked in the …

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