Behind the Headlines

Your guide to the science that makes the news

Thumb sucking and nail biting not key to preventing child allergies

Monday Jul 11 2016

"Children who suck their thumbs and bite their nails suffer fewer allergies, study finds," The Daily Telegraph reports. Researchers have reported a link between these common childhood habits and a lower rate of positive allergy tests…

Could an obscure type of herpes virus trigger female infertility?

Friday Jul 8 2016

"Obscure virus may be cause of unexplained infertility," The Independent reports. Italian researchers found copies of the HHV-6A virus – a type of herpes virus – in the womb lining of 43% of women with…

Paracetamol in pregnancy 'link to autism and ADHD' not proven

Monday Jul 4 2016

"Women who take paracetamol during pregnancy 'risk having a child with autism or ADHD'," the Mail Online reports. But the Spanish study it reports on provides no evidence of a direct link to either condition…

Sports drinks may have adverse effects on teens' dental health

Wednesday Jun 29 2016

"High numbers of younger teenagers are risking tooth decay and obesity by regularly having high-sugar sport drinks," BBC News reports. A survey of Welsh teenagers found high levels of consumption in teens, who seem unaware of their high-sugar content…

Is 'Disney Princess culture' a bad influence on young girls?

Tuesday Jun 28 2016

"Disney princesses such as Elsa from Frozen can damage young girls' body esteem," the Daily Mail reports – inaccurately. The study the news comes from actually found a more complex pattern of influences on both girls and boys...

Children's plastic toys can 'harbour viruses for hours'

Monday Jun 27 2016

"Plastic toys 'can harbour nasty viruses for hours, raising risk of infection'," the Mail Online reports. New research suggests that enveloped viruses, which have a protective shell, may survive on toys for up to 24 hours...

Drugs, ginger and acupuncture 'best for morning sickness'

Wednesday Jun 22 2016

"Hundreds of thousands of pregnant women with morning sickness should be given drugs to ease their symptoms," the Daily Mirror reports. The recommendation comes from a set of new guidelines that also say ginger…

Brain scans find differences in 'badly behaved' teen boys

Thursday Jun 16 2016

"'Striking’ structural differences seen in study which compared brain scans of young men with antisocial behavioural problems with their healthy peers," The Guardian reports.

Teens who vape e-cigs 'six times more likely to smoke cigarettes'

Tuesday Jun 14 2016

"Vaping is a gateway to smoking," the Mail Online reports, seriously overstating the evidence of a new US study. While the study did find teens who experimented with e-cigs were more likely to smoke "traditional" tobacco products…

Leaving babies to cry 'will improve their sleep', study says

Friday May 27 2016

"Babies do sleep better if you leave them to cry," the Daily Mail reports. A small study suggests that "graduated extinction" – better known as controlled crying in this country – increased sleep length and reduced the…

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What is Behind the Headlines?

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