Free GP care for six and seven year olds

Free GP care for around 78,000 children aged six and seven is expected to be introduced from August. It follows a new deal agreed between the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) and the Government after months of talks.

This benefit was announced in Budget 2021 but was delayed due to prolonged negotiations with doctors concerned about capacity. It will be up to individual GPs to decide if they wish to take on the extra patients. People with GP only cards must still pay for their medicines.

Agreement has also been reached on extending free GP care to around 430,000 other people on no more than the average household income.

Wear a helmet

An increase in head injuries due to children not wearing cycling helmets coincides with good weather and school holidays, according to doctors at the children’s hospital in Crumlin.

The uptick begins every year in May, they say, and continues for the rest of the summer.

“If I could prescribe a helmet to every child in Ireland, I would,” says Dr Carol Blackburn, an emergency medicine consultant at CHI at Crumlin.

“I urge parents not to underestimate how much speed children build up on a bike and the impact it can have on their bodies in a crash or collision. Helmets can reduce the likelihood of brain injury by over 80% and reduces the likelihood of facial injuries by 65%.”

For information on fitting a helmet correctly, see Cycling Safety for Children on the HSE and RSA websites.

Smartphone interfering with baby routines

Mindless scrolling is the enemy of being attuned to your baby. That’s according to Miriam McCaleb, a New Zealand PhD student who is researching the impact of mothers’ smartphone use on babies.

Attending the Congress for the World Association for Infant Mental Health in Dublin, she said that “the more you connect [with your smartphone], the less you connect with your baby.”

Studies have shown that parents are missing their baby’s cues of satiation, with the risk of over-feeding and obesity as a long-term consequence of the baby’s inability to regulate their feelings of satiations during feeding routines.

While she said that purposeful use of smartphones in the presence of babies to a maximum of about two hours a day is reasonable, her research found that pregnant women increased their daily screen time from 3h 25m to 4h 16m after having their babies.

She called on governments and companies to address the addictive nature of scrolling on smartphones. She is also developing a phone use action plan that includes keeping in mind the baby’s eye view, taking voice calls on speaker phone so the baby can hear the turn-taking, and saying “excuse me” to your baby when you take out your phone to use it.

She also recommended leaving your phone in the car for a while or taking turns with your partner to turn your phone off.

“It’s such a treat to turn your phone off for a while. It can be liberating,” she added.

Vaping concern

A government ban on under 18s was due to be signed into law by President Michael D Higgins by mid-July in a move that will see advertising of vapes as well as where they are sold being restricted.

Retailers will face fines of up to €5,000 or 12 months in prison if they sell vapes to underage teens, as part of the crackdown on e-cigarettes.

Under the changes, vapes will no longer be sold in vending machines, while the advertising of vapes near schools and on public transport will also be prohibited.

There are up to 16,000 different flavours of vapes, with flavours such as bubblegum and gummy bears, according to the World Health Organisation. The sale of e-cigarettes to adolescents is already banned in a number of European countries.

The Irish Heart Foundation is also calling for a complete ban on all disposable vapes.

“The arrival of disposable vapes on the Irish market has resulted in an explosion in youth use,” they say. “They are fuelling teenage vaping while damaging our planet at a time when we are in a climate emergency… Only an outright ban on all forms of disposable e-cigarettes will do. We simply cannot allow another generation of young people to become addicted to nicotine.”

Why we need Omega-3 in our diet

Omega-3 fats are long-chain, polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential for human health and can be found in foods like oily fish, walnuts, chia and flaxseed or they can be taken as a supplement as they cannot be made by our bodies. Here’s a reminder from Linwoods Health Foods about what Omega 3-fats do for us:

  • Cardiovascular health – reduce risk of heart attack and stroke
  • PMS and period pain – support hormone balance to reduce symptoms
  • Skin, hair and nails – they help hydrate, balance and moisturise skin
  • Anti-inflammatory – can help manage arthritis and eczema
  • Mind and mood – omega-3 can help
  • Brain and cognitive function
  • Vision and eye health
  • Healthy eating resources for adults launched

    Over 65? In good health? Mobile? Living at home? If so, you can avail of a new Government healthy eating toolkit available at

    The resource has been developed in partnership with the FSAI (Food Safety Authority of Ireland), the HSE, the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute and safefood.

    The aim of this advice is to help you stay well, by nourishing your body with healthy food and by staying active every day. The toolkit includes meal plans for different ages with an emphasis on having adequate protein each day.

    “Eating high quality protein foods twice a day, including a range of fruit and vegetables and taking a daily Vitamin D supplement are some of the key nutrients that are highlighted in these resources to support healthy aging,” says Professor Breda Smyth, Chief Medical Officer.

    If you have a medical condition such as kidney disease or diabetes, please talk to your dietitian or doctor as this information may not be suitable

    AI helps diagnose illness

    A new artificial intelligence (AI) computer-based diagnostic system that speeds up, improves accuracy and minimises errors in evaluating biopsies and predicting outcomes of ulcerative colitis has now been developed by scientists at APC Microbiome Ireland, based in UCC.

    AI software is also expected to have major health and operational gain for health services, according to a research team in the University of Aberdeen where breast screening technology is using AI to detect abnormalities that would have been missed using current screening procedures.

    Eye screening initiative

    A free diabetic retinopathy screening service is now available for women who have diabetes and become pregnant. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes that affects the small blood vessels at the back of the eye, in an area called retina. It can cause the blood vessels in the retina to leak or become blocked and damage a person’s sight. Caught early, treatment is effective, however. Screening involves digital photos being taken of the eyes.

    See or Freephone 1800 45 45 55.

    New bladder health app

    BladderBoss, a new app developed by Galway company Amara Therapeutics is an eight-week digital programme helping women take back control of their bladder health i.e. take control of overactive bladder (OAB).

    OAB affects approximately 16% of women globally and can negatively affect quality of life. It occurs due to a signalling problem between the brain and the bladder and can cause urinary incontinence and frequency as well as nocturia (waking at night to go to the toilet).

    Through interactive video and audio content, techniques that engage and challenges that motivate, manufacturers say that BladderBoss provides women with the tools they need to understand OAB, retrain their bladder and strengthen their pelvic floors.

    It uses methods such as Behavioural Therapy (BT) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques, alongside bladder retraining and pelvic health pilates.

    Did you know that?

    Charities can be nominated for Movement for Good grant awards until 28 July 2023. Grant amounts for charities range from €1,000 to €50,000. Movement for Good is funded by EIO plc, part of the Benefact Group and is giving over €1 million to help charities change lives for the better. They are looking for education, rural/community development, heritage/arts/culture, and climate change/environment projects. See Movement for Good - Nominate a charity for an award.

    Ireland’s health system has ranked as one of the lowest performing health systems (80th) in the northern hemisphere in spite of being one of the highest spenders per capita on health in the world.

    1 in 83 Irish people are at risk of developing haemochromatosis or “iron overload”. Early diagnosis is vital. Symptoms include chronic tiredness and joint pain, abdominal pain and sexual dysfunction. See

    Active Retirement Ireland has announced the launch of a new wellbeing programme to combat loneliness and isolation and to support older people to become more aware of and prioritise their mental health in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It aims to help members “laugh more, stress less, live better”. See

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