* The FDA has decided that the benefits of thalidomide treatment for leprosy patients outweigh the risks. The drug, which damaged so many babies when given to mothers to ease morning sickness, is poised to go on sale in the US where it was first banned. While the FDA insist that safeguards will be put in place to minimize the risk to unborn babies, it admits that the move will inevitably result in a new generation of deformed children (Lancet, 1997; 350: 873).
*Research in Zimbabwe shows that children with clinical asthma have twice the intake of salt as those who do not (Lancet, 1997; 350: 957).
*Spice Girls wannabes take note. Dentists in West Virginia say pierced lips, cheeks and tongues can cause swelling, infection, increased salivary flow and gum damage as common side effects of oral piercing. Studs, hoops and other jewellery used can also cause choking, chipped teeth, scarring and even speech impediments (JAMA, 1997; 278: 973).