Tag Archives: Daily Mail

The Daily Mail show their colours

The recent offence taken by Ed Milliband over the Daily Mail article written about his Father has shown the political elite what I, and many others, have known for some time.  That the Daily Mail is a paper that happily distorts whatever it wants.  The Daily Mail, among others, have written these types of articles about public servants for years and have suffered no ill effects for any of them.  

It is only now that politicians are coming under this vitriolic attack that Mr. Milliband questions the “morality and boundaries” of the media however he has remained silent after every misleading and hateful article written previously written.

While I would not want the Mail to write this type of article about any parent I do hope it shows people how the Mail happily twists small snippets of information to their own end and the slant they put on articles.  I also hope that it causes real change to be put into place, although I know that is highly unlikely.

Unfortunately the only way that the paper will change is if people no longer buy their physical paper nor visit their website.  If these two things were to happen they would cease to be of any importance whatsoever.  

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How to scare parents

On 16th September the Daily Mail published an article with the headline “Babies given Calpol just once a month ‘are five times as likely to develop asthma'”.  This is of obvious concern to parents who wish to keep their children safe and healthy.  The article describes an article published in May 2012, there is no explanation as to why it has taken the Mail 16 months to get around to publishing this article.

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The article starts reasonably well, with well publicised figures that are can be verified easily. 

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The article states that the Patient Information Leaflet contains no information on health risks, this is demonstrably false – what the Mail meant to say is that ” the Patient Information Leaflet doesn’t contain the results of a study released on 29th May 2012″

 

The article then makes some rather unfortunate assumptions.  They appear to have not read the study correctly, as the study states that the the rate of self reported asthma symptoms increases as opposed to those diagnosed by their Doctor.  I have some concerns about the study itself and will critique that shortly however for the moment I’ll stay with the Mail article.

The Mail, while stating the the risk of asthma increases by 60%, doesn’t say what the overall risk is.  In addition it doesn’t state if the risk in Spain of having asthma is the same as the UK, which incidentally it isn’t, the rate of asthma is Spain in children runs between 1.1% – 2.7% depending on criteria being measured.  A 60% increase of these rates means a potential increase to 1.76% – 4.32%. In the UK the rate of asthma is already higher as it runs from 3.5% – 9.3%, so any percentage increase is significantly different.  The Mail completely fails to point this out.

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It is only right at the very end of the article that any balance is given, by this point worried parents may either have stopped reading entirely or may believe that because there is so little information rebutting the article that the study in question is gospel.  Unfortunately the Mail is either unaware of, or ignoring, medical best practice which is to review all the evidence available and the reliability of the evidence.  The article fails to mention how many articles are available discussing potential causes nor details the reliability of the article itself.

The study, Exposure to paracetamol and asthma symptoms, is a study which is entirely dependent on the recall ability of parents and children.  It asks parents of very young children to remember how often they gave paracetamol based medication during the first 12 months of the child’s life.  One of the questions asked is “In the first 12 months of life of your child, did you regularly give him/her paracetamol” the available answer to this question is yes/no.  My definition of ‘regular’ is different to yours I’m sure and will vary among most people.  It would be far stronger evidence to ask how often paracetamol was given during those 12 months rather than use a vague term with no parameters.  In addition the data obtained simply states whether there was any asthma symptoms at least once during the life of the child.  To extrapolate this to mean ‘asthma’ is disingenuous as there are a number of diagnostic tests that need to be completed to ensure the cause of the symptoms are indeed asthma related rather than any other respiratory disease.  While the key points show there is an increased correlation between paracetamol consumption and symptoms of asthma it (deliberately) fails to state if this is a cause of the asthma or simply because those who are asthmatic may be more susceptible to respiratory illness that could result in a raised temperature.  In addition the article clearly states “a causal relationship cannot be established”, what this means in plain English is that it cannot be said with any authority that paracetamol causes asthma.

Overall the Mail article is written in such a way that causes unnecessary panic in parents.  It fails to give any advice to parents nor assess the strength of the study and in fact it appears that the authors of the article have failed to read the study fully, or failed to understand the limitations of the study.

If you’re a parent reading this and are still unsure what to do then it’s summed up as follows: if your child is running a temperature, or is in pain then paracetamol solutions (such as calpol) are widely acknowledged to be safe as long as the instructions on the packaging are followed.  It is not advisable to give paracetamol to your child for reasons other than those it is indicated for (unless your Doctor or Pharmacist tells you to do so).  If you’re still worried please contact your GP or a nurse working at your GP surgery, Pharmacists are also excellent in providing information about medication and you can talk to them without an appointment.

If you need quicker (or more detailed) information on asthma then NHS Choices or Asthma UK are both excellent sources of information.

Well done Mr. Hitchens

Mr. Peter Hitchens of the Daily Mail today posted this article about the British Police.  It is so badly misinformed and laden with so many errors that I’ve decided to create this blog simply to show you how very wrong he is.

Mr. Hitchens has chosen an easy target, the police.  Why you ask is it easy to critisise the police? It’s easy because they cannot speak out, as individual officers, against such misrepresentation in the media as their disciplinary regulations prevent it.  Furthermore because the press complaints commission will only investigate issues where an individual is harangued they won’t step in.  In addition to these issues the Daily Mail itself has removed the option to post comments at the end of the article.  Why they have done this I don’t know as they normally only do so when it is legally prudent, such as in ongoing court cases.

Either way individual police officers currently have no recourse in such biased articles, hence the reason for this blog.  It wont counter just the anti police articles but also the anti NHS ones too and when I have a screen shot of the page I’ll prove every point and area of misinformation that he’s posted so you can see how very wrong he is.  For the moment however I’ll leave you with just the one point.  He clearly has no regard for the safety of you, the reader, as he demands the removal of TASER from the police.  TASER is a weapon designed to be less lethal than firearms so that the police can deal with those who are so violent or possess such weapons that they would have been dealt with by firearms officers in the past but with a much reduced chance of killing them.  If response officers don’t have TASER then you, the public, will have to wait longer for the police to arrive which means you are at greater risk of being seriously injured.  Like I said, well done Mr. Hitchens.