In brief

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 29 August 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:556

Cot deaths fall in Britain: Fewer cases of the sudden infant death syndrome occurred in Britain in 1997 than at any time since records began in 1971, according to the Office for National Statistics. Last year 393 babies died of the condition, compared with 1500 in 1971.

Doctors issue warning about global warming: An international group of doctors have formed the Medical Alliance for the Global Environment to raise awareness of the “unprecedented threats to human health and life from changes to the global environment.” The alliance is being coordinated by Dr Erick Chivian, director of Harvard University's Center for Health and the Global Environment (email:

Over 75s in Britain will be offered flu vaccine: The Joint Committee on Vaccination has recommended that the flu vaccination programme should be extended this year to cover all people aged 75 and over.

Drug use among US teenagers increases: The US national household survey on drug abuse showed that use of illicit drugs in the overall population in the United States remained stable from 1996 to 1997. However, 11% of 12-17 years olds reported using illegal drugs in the past month, up from 9% in 1996. The increase was mainly due to use of marijuana.

Paediatric care in England given boost: A £10m ($16m) investment to modernise intensive care facilities for children in English NHS regions has been announced. It will pay for 20 more beds, staff training, and 24 hour retrieval teams of doctors and nurses to transport critically ill children to specialist centres.

NHS will cover its own risks: The NHS hopes to save up to £45m ($72m) by carrying its own risks for non-clinical liabilities through a pool. The NHS Litigation Authority is being invited to consider how it can adapt its operations to include a new scheme for non-clinical risks.

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