Not tonight ...

Lack of sexual desire is here to stay, despite the growing availability of professional sex therapy, according to a report in the British Journal of Psychiatry. It found that while sex therapy has "excellent" results in the cases of vaginismus (involuntary spasm of the vaginal muscles), impotence and premature ejaculation, low desire is the hardest to treat of sexual problems.

Myth of epidural pain

Epidural anaesthesia during labour has long been thought to cause back pain afterwards, but Canadian researchers have cleared it of blame. In a study of 329 pregnant women, they found that, apart from on the first day after delivery, those who had the pain-killing injection were no more likely to have back pain than those who had not. Mild back pain after childbirth is probably caused by physiological changes or maternal workload, they say in the British Medical Journal.

Heart's ease

Folic acid supplements are normally taken by pregnant women to cut the risk of foetal disability, but they may also help to prevent heart disease in adults, say US researchers writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association. They have found that folic acid reduces blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid associated with coronary artery disease. US research also suggests vitamin C can reduce "wear and tear" to knee joints in patients with osteoarthritis. A study of 640 patients with the disease, reported in General Practitioner, found that those with an above average vitamin C intake cut their risk of cartilage loss and knee pain by 70 per cent.

Asthma trigger

Moving to a new home can trigger childhood asthma, say researchers from a Plymouth general practice. In a study of 90 children aged from four to 16, they found that 57 per cent of asthma sufferers had moved house by the age of onset - against 9 per cent of non-asthmatic children. The authors suggest in the British Medical Journal that moving may mean exposure to new allergens.