Checkup Medical Column for June 15

Sarah Wiedersehn

A weekly round-up of news affecting your health

FOOD POISONING

Reusable bags used for grocery shopping can be a risk of food poisoning, experts warn.

The Food Safety Information Council has launched its food safety advice for re-usable shopping bags in the lead up to the single use plastic bag ban on July 1.

"This ban is great for the environment but there can be the risk of food poisoning from reusable bags," said Council Chair, Rachelle Williams.

Ms Williams says there are tips shoppers should follow to make sure their reusable bags remain safe, including the use of separate leak-proof, easily washable bags for meat/poultry/seafood and fruit and vegetables.

Also, people are advised to get a cooler bag for refrigerated and frozen food and use a clean trolley or basket.

Never put fresh fruit and vegetables that won't be peeled or cooked before eating directly into the trolley. People should instead use a clean bag, Ms Williams advised.

BLOOD PRESSURE AND DEMENTIA

People aged 50 who have high blood pressure are at an increased risk of developing dementia in later life, according to an Oxford University Study.

Published in the European Health Journal, the study of more than 10,000 people found the risk of dementia was present in participants who didn't have other heart or blood vessel-related health issues.

"Previous research has not been able to test the link between raised blood pressure and dementia directly by examining the timing in sufficient detail," said author Dr Jessica Abell.

"In our paper we were able to examine the association at age 50, 60 and 70, and we found different patterns of association. This will have important implications for policy guidelines, which currently only use the generic term 'midlife'," said Dr Abell.

AUTISM

New research shows children with autism could be more likely to have allergies.

Analysis of data from almost 200,000 US children found those on the autism spectrum were almost three times more likely to have food allergies compared to children not on the autism spectrum.

They were also more likely to have respiratory allergies, for example pet allergies or hay fever, and skin allergies.

Children with ASD, compared to children without ASD, were more likely reported to have:

* Food allergy (11.25 per cent vs. 4.25 per cent)

* Respiratory allergy (18.7 per cent vs. 12 per cent)

* Skin allergy (16.8 per cent vs. 9.8 per cent)

"In a nationally representative sample of US children, a significant and positive association of common allergic conditions, in particular food allergy, with ASD was found," the authors concluded.

The findings, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), warrant further research to explain the link, the authors said.