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News: Meningococcal on rise, QLD caesarean rates, new Autism ‘quiet room’

Meningococcal signs symptomsSo what is making news in the parenting world this week?

Why are survivors of a rare but preventable disease urging parents to be alert? Why are researchers comparing the rates of caesarean sections in Queensland at the UK? And what has a Melbourne shopping centre created to ensure a more positive experience for people with ASD and their families? Read on to find out more …

Survivors urge vigilance ahead of meningococcal peak season

Australian meningococcal survivors have urged parents to take the time to understand the rare but devastating disease ahead of peak season, when the incidence of the disease, on average, rises to 26 cases per month.

Ahead of this peak season, Meningococcal Australia is launching their Know, Check, Act online educational tool to help parents understand the signs and symptoms.

“As a survivor I know the disease is frightening in the initial stages,” says Meningococcal Australia director Kirsten Baker.

“It progresses so quickly which means it is an inevitable race against time to accurately diagnose it and then to try and get it under control.

“The good news is, meningococcal disease is now largely preventable and with peak season just around the corner parents need to make sure their family is properly protected.”

Kirsten says simple hygiene measures, such as washing hands and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing, can help reduce the spread of the disease but vaccination is the best form of protection.

Symptoms can vary considerably and may include: headache, fever, fatigue or drowsiness, a stiff or painful neck, sensitivity to light, vomiting or shivering, cold hands and feet, muscle or joint pain, a change in skin colour. The late-stage rash may also develop which can start off as a spot, blister or pinpricks and later turn into purple bruise-like blotches.

1. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease

2. Act quickly if meningococcal disease is suspected and seek medical advice

3. Make sure your family is vaccinated against all major strains of meningococcal disease

Watch the video about signs and symptoms of Meningococcal disease.

More babies born by Caesarean in QLD than in the England

Queensland women have higher odds of having a caesarean than women of similar age and health in England, a new study has found.

Dr Yvette Miller from QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation says in Queensland 36 per cent of women give birth by caesarean while in England the figure is  25 per cent.

“Women who have had a caesarean before had more than double the odds of having another caesarean if they lived in Queensland, compared with women in England,” she says.

“The most common reason for having a planned caesarean in Queensland and England was that the woman had previously given birth by caesarean. But Queensland women are more likely to have a caesarean on these grounds than those in England, meaning that fewer women are having a vaginal birth after caesarean, also known as a ‘VBAC’.

“Women in Queensland were also more likely than women in England to have a caesarean after their labour had started.

“The reasons cited were failure to progress in labour, premature labour, a previous caesarean or concerns about the mother’s health, whereas in England, foetal distress and failure of the labour to progress were the most cited reasons.”

Dr Miller said the study was one of the first to compare reasons for varying caesarean rates in different countries in the same time period.

“Queensland has one of the highest rates of caesarean birth in Australia and it is important to find the drivers of the increasing numbers of caesareans as they are not without risk.

“In many circumstances, caesarean section can place women and their babies at increased risk of complications or death at the time of birth and can have negative implications for future pregnancies and the mother’s health,” she said.

“Furthermore, caesarean births cost the health system a lot more money.”

The findings are from cross-country research conducted with researchers from The University of Oxford, England, and the Queensland Centre for Mothers & Babies at The University of Queensland, just published in the BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth journal.

Shopping centre unveils first-ever ‘Quiet Room’ for people with Autism

Australia’s first ever shopping centre ‘Quiet Room’ – a sensory soothing space for individuals with Autism – has opened in Melbourne.

Built entirely by local volunteers and businesses and developed in partnership with Amaze, formerly Autism Victoria, Northland Shopping Centre’s pioneering ‘Quiet Room’ concept has been introduced in a bid to give the 55,000 Victorians affected by ASD a positive shopping experience.

Amaze CEO Fiona Sharkie says the space offers individuals and their carers space to reduce their anxiety, where they can get access to power, sensory soothing items, bean bags and other useful materials to help reduce over-stimulation.

“It can be very difficult for parents with children on the spectrum to be able to come out to public places, such as shopping centres, for fear of their child having a ‘meltdown’ due to too much sensory stimulation,” she says.

“And not just children – adolescents and adults with ASD are often overwhelmed by the sensory experience that is ‘shopping’!”

One in every 100-110 people is affected by ASD. This equates to around 250,000 Australians. It is a developmental condition which affects individuals in two main areas:

• Impaired communication and social interaction
• Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities

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