Medical notes

Migraine sufferers have a bricklayer to thank for a new alternative to hitting their heads against a wall. Hywel Edwards, of south Wales, who is one of Britain's six million migraine-sufferers, came up with the idea for the Migra-Cap as he lay in a darkened room for two days. The balaclava-shaped cap is a combined eye mask and cold press which can be stored in the fridge - it contains pockets of gel which retain the cold for up to 45 minutes. Edwards, who has suffered from migraines since he was four, had tried a plethora of orthodox and alternative treatments but only cooling his head made a difference.

Following last week's warnings against pregnant women eating too much tuna, Danish scientists have found that the risk of still birth increases with every cup of coffee a woman drinks during pregnancy. Four cups a day increases the likelihood of stillbirth by 80%, according to the research, published in the British Medical Journal.

Impregnating products with chemicals for personal hygiene seems to be all the rage. First there were tissues with balsam built in, now its SoleFresh socks, saturated with "nano-silver particles" which, apparently, help prevent bacteria and fungus, and therefore smelly feet. There is an alternative - change your socks.

Other dirty habits could have more serious consequences. Biting your nails, for instance, can cause lead poisoning. Russian scientists have found that two thirds of girls and a slightly smaller proportion of boys bite their nails - and don't wash their hands very often. In the towns studied, they found that high levels of lead in the bloodstream of the nail-biters had slowed their psychological development.

Smokers keen to give up could hold on for the new generation nicotine gum unveiled at the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco's annual meeting. The "rapid-release" gum will deliver a nicotine hit as fast as a fag.

Scottish pupils are to be given free fresh fruit in primary one and two in an attempt to improve nutritional standards. Junk food is off the daily menu, too, for all pupils. Every school meal must contain meat or fish, and two portions of fruit and vegetables.

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