Festive gifts arrive nine months later

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OVER Christmas and New Year, pregnancy is one of the most searched for topics on NHS Choices, the health information website for the National Health Service.

Statistics then go on to show a rise in birth rates during September and October – highlighting Britain as nation of festive babymakers.

Over this period in 2010, pregnancy was second only to flu as the most popular search term on the website.

Nine months later, according to birth rate figures from the Office for National Statistics, Britain saw 2,700 more births in September and more than 4,000 more births in October, compared to the average monthly birth rate.

It could be the combination of the cold weather and festive sprit, but I do see a fair few women coming to me early in the year, after the holidays, newly pregnant.

It does not surprise me that many people turn to the internet as it’s naturally a topic where people have lots of questions.

This is especially true during the early phases of pregnancy or if you’re trying to get pregnant.

NHS Choices has a wide range of information including a pregnancy planner, downloadable pregnancy trackers and articles advising couples how to maximise their chances of conception.

The site (www.nhs.uk) also has case studies, ante and post natal advice, tools to help develop a birth plan, providing patients with information so they can choose how and where they want to give birth, along with guidance about diet and exercise.

Dr. Knut Schroeder GP, via email

The same old gong song

Thank goodness publicity-seeking people such as that Ann Timson woman, who handbagged the jewellery shop robbers in Northampton, didn’t merit a New Year gong.

As such it would surely have demeaned those honours given to property developers and Tory donors.

Good to know that, once again, the Establishment has done the right thing...

Although, in a worrying show of weakness, it did throw a few scraps to lollipop ladies and the like.

Come on Mr Cameron, it is time to show a bit of steel.

Gerard Parke-Hatton, via email

Rail travel is Europe’s worst

In the end, New Labour admitted our rail service, with its poor rolling stock and overpaid, strike-prone workforce, was an “intractable problem”.

Despite being showered by deplorable amounts of taxpayer largesse, the last government left a shambolic inheritance of a rail network.

By a clear margin it is the worst in Europe.

It is also the most expensive.

Fares are up to 10 times more than in the rest of the European Union.

Now huge new fare hikes are coming in and these follow even worse time-keeping statistics, if that is conceivable.

Those who delight in the spacious comfort of the Continent’s high-speed trains or marvel at Swiss rail’s punctuality in a snowy winter know our train system is uniquely bad.

It is the product of Neanderthal union barons, management of awesome incompetence and adversarial governments whose ministers are incapable of making decisions which are strategic and not political.

John Cameron, via email