Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Have Your Kids Had Their Smallpox Vaccination?

Have you vaccinated your kids against smallpox?


Why on earth not?

Oh, wait...

I've not given my kids the smallpox vaccine, I doubt anyone reading this has - why?

Because there is no more smallpox. Barring a few samples in two high security labs the disease simply does not exist anymore. Look it up on Wikipedia, it's talked about in the past tense. Measles is an infectious disease. Smallpox was an infectious disease

Why is it gone? Vaccination.

We don't have to decide if we should vaccinate our children against smallpox because we have absolutely no need to vaccinate them. We don't have to agonise over the possible side effects or if the vaccine may contain "toxins" etc. etc. We don't have to weigh up the personal choice not to vaccinate our own children against the greater good of protecting those who can't be vaccinated. We really don't have to think about it at all because previous generations did that for us.

They got vaccinated, they vaccinated their kids. It wasn't easy and many people had concerns about it. Doctors and health workers had to go out to the remotest parts of the world, through civil wars and famines to stop the last few outbreaks of the disease from spreading but in the end smallpox simply had no where left to go. There was no one left for it to disfigure and kill and so it died itself. In December 1979, just a few months after I was born, the whole world was declared free of smallpox.

We owe those previous generations an enormous debt of gratitude. So do our children and every generation to come. 

I starting thinking about this after reading this article on the WHO's reaction to recent measles outbreaks. I wrote recently about the Disneyland outbreak but I've only just heard about a bigger one in Germany which, tragically, has resulted in the death of an 18 month old boy who wasn't vaccinated. Overall the death rate from measles is thought to be around 1/1000. In Germany it only took 583 cases before a child lost their life to a preventable disease.

I also hadn't realised that the WHO had set a goal to eradicate measles from Europe and central Asia by the end of this year. A goal that now looks almost impossible. 

There is often a lot of talk about herd immunity in vaccine debates. If everyone who can have the vaccine does then the disease won't be able to spread to those who can't, such as new born babies, or those who have lost their immunity through disease or cancer treatment. But we tend to think of this as a very immediate thing. The current crop of small babies, people undergoing chemo this year. 

What the history of smallpox shows us is that we could do far more than that. If our generation pulls together, looks at the science and understands that the vaccines are very safe and clearly not linked to autism. If we ALL vaccinate our kids then it's not just them or their baby siblings and sick classmates who will benefit. It's their own children and everyone else yet to be born. 

If we do this now, our kids won't come to us concerned about vaccinating our grandchildren against measles or whooping cough or polio. They won't need to make that choice. Those diseases will exist only in history books.

Vaccination queue, 1962


Monday, 23 February 2015

Tech For Mums, The 13 Best Smart Watch Apps For Mums/Moms

So, now for something completely different.

Smart watches are part of the new wave of wearable tech, essentially it's like having a smaller version of a smart phone screen sitting on your wrist and connected to your phone by bluetooth. I wrote a while ago that I thought they would be ideally suited to women and especially Mums. Well, geek that I am I saved up my pennies and got one, I've been using it for a few months now and people have started to ask about it so time for a review (look away now if you have an iphone, you'll need to wait a bit longer for a compatible watch.)

Here's the context. I'm a working mum with a very chatty 5 year old and a very active 2 year old. Armies have gone to war with less stuff then I leave the house with to go to the park. I rarely have pockets big enough to comfortably carry my smartphone so if I'm out it is probably buried in the bottom of my enormous bag. If I'm at home I'm probably doing about 3 things at once and dealing with a constant barrage of requests or squabbles, organisation breaks down, stuff gets forgotten. A new watch can't fix that but with the aid of these apps it can help:

Best Apps:

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1- Find My Phone
Free, with paid for add on options
Hands down this is the app I use most on my watch. A couple of taps and you can make your phone ring so you can find it. It's not world changing technology but it is really very useful. It'll also make the watch vibrate if you are going out of range of the phone connection. Handy for stopping you forgetting your phone when you go out.

2- Google maps
I walk a lot, I have a hopeless sense of direction. Google maps on my phone has really helped with this but waving an expensive smart phone about while making it very obvious you are lost feels like an open invitation to thieves. It also isn't very easy if you're also pushing a buggy or controlling a rampaging toddler. With the watch integration I set up my route on the phone then chuck it in my bag. Every time I need to take a turning the watch vibrates and shows an arrow of which way to go, looking at it is just as quick (and discreet) as checking the time.

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This app lets you share your location with someone for a fixed period of time, they don't even need to have the app themselves. It works on the phone too but the watch app makes it super quick and easy to send a preset "Glympse". My husband and I use this all the time now, it's great if we're both racing to get to nursery pick up or wondering if it's worth holding dinner back for the other to get home. I also find it reassuring to know that someone can check where I am if I'm coming home alone at night, something which would be good for parents of older children too and it's less intrusive than tracking their every move.

4- Text and Email notifications
Built in
Not really a specific App but oh so handy. Waiting for an urgent message and annoyed by digging out your phone after five separate unimportant notifications? New emails and texts simply pop up on the watch screen with a little vibration to let you know. If it's important you can read it there if it's not simply swipe it away, it'll still be on the phone for later

5- Call notification and reject
Built in
Similarly any incoming phone calls will come up on the watch face with just a subtle vibration. Great if you are somewhere where it's inappropriate to have a phone buzzing but you still want to be able to receive that urgent call from school or nursery. Anything unimportant can be rejected on the watch and if you do want to answer, accepting the call via the watch buys you a few extra seconds to dash out of the room and and/or hunt in your bag for the phone.

6- Voice Texting
Built in
 The android wear watches use Google speech recognition technology so you can send a text to someone in your contacts without touching anything (or indeed an email or tweet) this has come in handy of any number of occasions, many of them involving pushchairs or hideous nappies. The voice recognition isn't 100% but it's pretty good and no worse than predictive text!

Cover art6- Google Keep
Keep is a very basic note taking app. More highly specked options such as Evernote also integrate with the watch but I prefer the simple sticky note style of Keep. As with the voice texting this uses voice recognition so you can make quick notes even if your hands are full (or filthy).

7- Timer
Built In
"ok Google, set a timer, 5 minutes" you say that to the watch, you get a timer. Simple as that. Good for cooking, (timing experiments if you're me) and possibly the naughty step!

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8-Google Fit
There are lots of fitness tracking and step counting apps available for smart watches. I particularly like the simplicity of Google fit which allows you to set achievable daily targets such as one hour of activity eg. walking or running, a day. It provides a little bit of motivation to get out and actually walk the school run when I'm feeling like being lazy and jumping in the car.

Cover art9-RunKeeper
If you are after some more serious exercise then there are a host of apps to for that too. I have the Sony SW3 which is the only one of the current devices to have it's own built in GPS. With the runkeeper app running on my watch I can track my run distance, time, speed etc without having to take the bulky phone along. I can also still listen to music using bluetooth headphones as the phone has 4G of memory. On other smart watches it would be necessary to carry the phone along still but it could all be controlled from the watch and while I'm running I also find it much easier to flick through music or check run times etc on my wrist rather than having to wrestle my phone out of it's pouch. Runkeeper is a little buggy on the watch at the moment but they are actively working on that in the mean time it may be worth giving a few others a go. Some of the other watches also have a built in heart rate monitor that some people might like to use when running.Free with paid for pro version

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10-Sleep as Android
Free trail with paid for add ons
Sleep oh sleep, how I love you, how I miss you. This app has been around for a while on phones but required you to have your phone in bed with you which I was never very keen on and as it relies on measuring movement it was easily thwarted by a memory foam mattress or a fidgety partner. None of these things are an issue if you use the watch as the movement sensor. The app will monitor your sleep cycles, to see how much deep sleep you actually get and the smart alarm system will try to wake you up when you are in a light sleep to avoid that awful alarm clock shock - unless the kids get there first of course! I've only had this a few days so can't comment on how accurate it is yet.

12- Wear Camera
This neat little app is a remote control for your phone camera. Open it and the phone camera will turn on, tap it to take a picture.

13- Google
You can put a web browser on the watch although the screen size limits it's usability, but voice activated Google searches are one of my kids' favorite things right now. My five year old asks my watch questions when we are doing homework, my two year old just like to shout "Polar Bear!" at it as this brings up a picture.

So This is my favorite toy of the moment, it's not going to revolutionise anyone's life but it really does come in handy at those times when actual hands are trying to juggle the world.

The downside for me (apart from the price of course!) is that at the moment none of the watches on offer are particularly attractive. Most go for either a sporty look or try to imitate a classic gents watch both of which are just a bit meh as far as I'm concerned. But there is the option to swap the straps on my Sony watch so hopefully a few prettier ones may emerge and the upcoming iphone has unsurprisingly made more of an effort in the fashion stakes. That said a couple of people have commented on liking the look of mine even without knowing it was a smart watch and of course being able to change your screen whenever you like is nice, my kids particularly like the animated Minion screen. My hope is that I'm not the only geeky mum out there who'll be helped out by this new technology and that if it becomes clear there is a strong female market the manufacturers will put in more effort to making the things appealing.

Finally a couple of FAQ's

What's the battery life like?
This varies between models but if I turn my Sony SW3 off overnight it will easily last 2 days without a charge. Certain things like using the inbuilt GPS will drain it faster. It also charges really quickly. I've not actually timed this but certainly less than 2 hours for a full charge which is good if you're using a sleep tracking app.

Is it Waterproof?
Again this varies but the SW3 is waterproof enough to go swimming in, and I've tested this out at a toddler swimming class!


Note - I got no freebies for this review, I paid for the watch and any apps myself, I'm just doing this in the hope it'll catch on and more great apps and pretty straps will be made!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Post Natal Care; My After The Birth Story

This post is mostly for the #MatExp folks who I have been trying to keep up with on twitter (it really wouldn't have fitted into 140 characters!) Heads up other readers this isn't a very happy or positive story, although thankfully we were ok in the end. If you are expecting a baby and anxious about postnatal care, you may want to skip this post, but don't go away there will be more ranting soon!


I started thinking about this after seeing a new report which shows that women in the UK spend less time in hospital after giving birth than our counterparts in any other EU country. This made me wonder- is this a bad thing? It is if women are being rushed out before they are ready just to clear the bed for the next person. A generation ago it was normal to spend a week in hospital after the birth of a first baby. Now, if it was straightforward, you could be home within hours. But many women are very glad of that, so perhaps the UK's short hospital stays should be welcomed?

Overall I suspect both aspects are at work, but for once I don't want to critique a study or the media coverage of it. I'm going to do something that is much harder for me and tell a very personal story about my own experience of postnatal care when my first child, MissE was born. I've touched on this before but never managed to put it all into text. It's long and upsetting and to be honest it's something I try to avoid reliving. I also know that I could have done things differently and spoken up for myself more, but at the time I was tired and traumatised from a very difficult birth and just wan't thinking clearly.

As a first for this blog I'm also going to put up a linky at the end and I really hope that other people will be able to share their own stories of post natal care,  good or bad.

So here's my story:

I arrived on the postnatal ward of a busy London hospital at some point on a Tuesday morning. I was oblivious to the time by then, days and nights had blurred together as the straight forward, natural birth I had planned (and foolish assumed was pretty much guaranteed), had taken me from wallowing in the birthing pool of the midwife unit to, eventually, lying shaking and terrified on the operating table. 

I do know that my daughter was born by emergency caesarean at 2.33am. Afterwards I was taken back to the delivery room for a few hours. I hadn't slept since the previous Saturday night, my husband had done a little better but was still extremely tired. He dragged out a sort of school gym mat that was propped in the corner and fell asleep on the floor. My beautiful new daughter dozed peaceful in her little plastic crib next to me. I was utterly exhausted, I should have slept but I couldn't. I'd been convinced of the very worst when my baby was whisked away, silent and unseen behind the blue surgical screen. But even once she was sleeping safely beside me I couldn't relax, I couldn't let go of the fear that something might happen, that someone needed to stay awake and watch her. At some point one of the midwives who had looked after me earlier in my labour popped in to say hello as she started her next shift. She'd been home, probably seen her family, slept, eaten. This was a whole new day for her but for me it was just a continuation of a timeless blur, I barely recognised her and couldn't speak to thank her for her help, whenever it was that she had helped.

I don't remember much about that day after I got to the postnatal ward. I was wheeled down on my bed, unable to move. The staff on the delivery ward all cooed over how beautiful miss E was with her full head of dark hair. I kept wondering if this was really my baby, I already loved her fiercely but how could something this beautiful have come from my ugly body? Had some switch been made behind that blue screen? I told myself that that made no sense, but still the doubts crept back.

I do remember that night though.

For a while it seemed that everything would be fine, I was the only person in a four bed room and at some point the lights were dimmed and I lay down, with one hand resting protectively on the tiny crib, and started to drift into sleep. I looked at the time on my phone, amazed I'd been awake for so long. An hour later I was woken up by voices and the clanking of equipment as another mother was brought into the room. I never learnt this lady's story. My best guess is that she was readmitted as her baby was jaundiced and had to be put under a lamp. Whatever had happened, the mother was clearly in desperate need of help herself. She spent the rest of the night pacing up and down the room, rambling and shouting, I couldn't make out what she was saying or in what language, I had no idea if it was directed at her baby, herself or maybe at me. With hindsight I know she was harmless, that I should have tried to help her but that's not what I thought at the time. At the time I felt extremely vulnerable, I still couldn't move and I was terrified of this "crazy lady"* and what she might do to me or my baby, the baby I needed to protect. So I did what I could and lay awake and vigilant all night. Once, a midwife came in and asked her to be quiet, but then they left us alone for the rest of the night. I should have called them, asked them to do more for my sake and hers but I was too scared that she would over hear me complaining and then take her revenge once the midwife's back was turned. Our room was at the end of the ward, out of the way and I had already learnt that the call button could wait twenty minutes for a response, if anyone came at all.

By now time had definitely returned and I was acutely aware of it. I watched the minutes and hours tick past, snatching glimpses of it on my phone screen, hidden under the bed sheet. Until it was just about morning and I thought it would be ok to call my husband. To shake him out of his much needed sleep and ask him to come back in the moment visiting hours began.

I remember a little more of my second day on the ward, there were family visitors, all delighted to meet the first member of a new generation, I felt the need to tell them all about her birth but I slowly realised, everyone was there for the baby. Not me. At some point we discovered that I still had a catheter in and the bag was full so it was removed, along with the cannula that had been tugging at my veins for days. I desperately wanted a shower but wasn't sure if I could, was it ok to get the scar wet? Would I even manage to stand in the room alone? Was I allowed? I managed it in the end, trying hard to get clean without actually looking at my body, trying to leave no trace of my blood in the shared bathroom.

By this point I'd been moved to a busier room, I couldn't help overhearing the conversations with the lady in the bed opposite. She had a new baby, just like me, but she had no where to take him home to and was waiting for a bed in some kind of hostel. How dare I complain in the face of that? What right had I with my lovely husband and nice flat to demand more time of the staff?

I remember the next night vividly too, far too vividly. Once again the lights were turned off and partners ushered out. But this time the ward stayed noisy. In the bed next to me another mum talked loudly on her phone, her TV blaring. She was told to keep it down but paid no attention. The bed opposite was briefly free until a new occupant arrived, her baby had just been born by emergency C section and her shocked and exhausted expression mirrored my own. As she was brought in I was sitting sideways on my bed, half naked, trying desperately to get a decent feed into my uninterested baby. I remember the look of horror on the face of the new woman's partner when he saw me. One of the midwives noisily changed the bed sheets, clanking the sinks and bins right next to me. I could feel again by now and the pain was growing. I pressed the call button to ask for some pain relief but no one came. Later I tried again, to get someone to help me lift my baby so I could feed her but again no one came.

Eventually the adults on the ward grew quieter just as the babies grew louder. I managed to flag down some pain relief but it wasn't enough and eventually, reluctantly, I was given a morphine tablet. I don't know if it was that or just the shear exhaustion but suddenly I began to hallucinate. At first it was just a little movement in the corner of my eye, down on the floor near the door - a mouse? Surely there wouldn't be mice running around the ward? If nothing else it was spotlessly clean. Then slowly the creature took the form not of a mouse but a moose, a cartoon moose that I used to draw at school. I knew it wasn't real but that only made it all the more terrifying, was I loosing my mind now? Would I soon be the "crazy lady" pacing the ward?

Still my baby wouldn't feed. For two days I been told this was terrible, or absolutely fine.  That there was something wrong with her mouth or she just needed a rest. But I needed to feed her, I had to make her ok and do something right for her, but she just wouldn't, what was I doing wrong? I wanted help but couldn't ask for it, no one seemed interested, every bit of advice I'd had contradicted the last and besides, I really shouldn't make a nuisance of myself.

Eventually it all became too much and I allowed the tears come. But it wasn't the quiet restrained little weep I had expected. It was the gulping, sobbing, unstoppable cry of a small child, I knew everyone could hear me but once I had started I couldn't haul back any control. After a while one of the midwives came over and asked what was wrong. For a moment I thought she would help me, that she would do something, so my baby would feed and I could sleep. Or she would just just tell me that yes, what I'd been through was horrible and I had every right to feel shocked and upset by it. But no. She told me sharply that I must stop crying and making a fuss or I would spoil my milk and not be able to feed my baby at all.

Then she left.

I should have called her supervisor, I should have complained and asked for help. But I didn't. Instead I listened as the supervisor (who I think was informed of the incident by another of the mums) and the midwife argued about her behavior in the corridor outside. The midwife then stomped off leaving the rest of the staff chatting about last night's TV. The supervisor did briefly come over to check I was ok but didn't mention the incident. Neither did I, I knew better than to ask for help now.

Not long after that the baby screaming really kicked off, my own alternating with one of the others in the room so that it was a constant din. I had to get out of there, I staggered to the desk and asked if there was anywhere I could go to be alone with my baby and away from the noise. Someone waved in the direction of the ward lounge, but it had dazzling automatic lights that left me feeling exposed so I asked if there was anywhere else and was pointed down the corridor to to a little room used for expressing milk.

I spent the rest of the night in that small, beige, rectangular room. There were two big machines and a plastic chair. MissE slept on and off in her crib or in my arms, though I was scared I might finally fall asleep and then drop her. Mostly I sat on the plastic chair, alone in the dark, checking off the minutes and hours on my phone until morning. When I thought it would be getting light outside I went back to my bed. No one checked on me, no one noticed I'd been gone for hours.

All I knew now was that I needed to leave. Yes I had had major surgery and my baby wasn't feeding well, but there was no way either of us could recover there and I doubted my body or mind would hold out for another night. I lay on display in my bed as the doctors and midwives did their morning ward round, discussing me as if I wasn't there, ignoring my attempts to join in the conversation about my body and it's failings.

It took hours and a lot of nagging but eventually, against the advice of the medical staff, I left. Shuffling painfully down the corridor, not fast enough to get to the room where my baby was having her first checks, but I made it out, using our new pram as a walking aid.

It was Thursday afternoon, I'd slept for a total of one hour since the previous Saturday night. I had been through an exhausting labour and emergency surgery, followed by two nights awake and afraid. I felt broken in every way and now, I had to go out and become a mother.


Thankfully this was all more than five years ago now and that precious little baby is now a vibrant, chatty schoolgirl. We moved a few months after her birth and so her little sister was born at a different hospital and, although the postnatal stay was noisy, I was cared for with warmth and respect. My husband was able to stay with me all night and one of the midwives happily took my baby away for a cuddle so I could get some rest. I woke up hours later to find a my little one, wrapped cosily in a blanket my Aunt had made for her, fast asleep in the crib next to me.

So what would make postnatal care better? In an ideal world, we would have individual rooms, so mothers had some privacy and only their own baby's crying to deal with. There would be plenty of midwives popping in to check everyone was ok and partners would have at least a good comfy chair to spend the night in.

Of course that may be impossible for many hospitals but there are things that could be improved for very little cost. Simply checking if a woman has any questions about what to do now would be a start. Is it ok to shower? To eat? Should she be up and walking about or taking it easy in bed? Is it ok to lift the baby? Even a really big baby? What about pain relief? When a birth hasn't gone to plan a woman may be completely unprepared for the aftermath. I did virtually no research into C sections as I never thought it would happen to me, so I had only old, outdated, second hand information to draw on.

Consistency is also a big thing, I got completely contradictory information about breast feeding, my very large baby simply wasn't interested at the start. Some of the midwives were unconcerned by this, others terrified me with the possible consequences of letting her sleep, unfed for more than two hours at a time.

Then there is kindness, that costs nothing, not even a great deal of time. The midwife who told me I would spoil my milk should not be in that job, I don't care how busy or stressed she felt, there is no excuse for that.

Second time around, the hospital was just as busy as the first, the staff no doubt under just as much pressure but what really made the difference was just a few snatched moments of kindness and empathy. A quick smile and acknowledgment that I was a person, not merely the occupant of a bed, or the vessel from which a baby had been removed. Even when resources and time are acutely limited surely that can be achieved everywhere?


* I don't use the phrase "crazy lady" lightly, and I certainly hope it doesn't cause anyone any offense, it is just the best way I can think of to describe my perception of her at the time.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

"Three Parent Babies" Science, Hope and Parliament

Just sometimes, I feel very proud to be British, which isn't very British I know. Today is one of those days because MPs have voted to allow scientists and doctors to create so called "three parent babies".

As a scientist myself I find this fascinating; the great challenge to better understand our biology and use this knowledge to prevent horrible diseases. But as a mother of two small children, having read the stories of some of those parents who have lost children to these diseases, I also see the hope and heartbreaking urgency in today's news.

There has been a lot in the media about this today but I've not yet seen much in the parent blogging world, so I thought I would chip in. There have been a few misleading stories and I worry that some people may be concerned about what is actually being done so I hope this will help a few people out and not read too much like a school biology class!

The Science bit:

Firstly, the whole "three parents" thing isn't really accurate. The third person is more like an organ donor than a parent, only no one has to die and the benefit is felt for generations. In fact, what they are donating,  their mitochondria, are part of a group of tiny structures in all our cells known as organelles. Each organelle has a specific form and function within the cell, just like the organs in a body. The mitochondria are the cells' power stations and so they are especially important in parts of the body that use a lot of energy, such as the heart and brain. But just like organs, the mitochondria don't always work properly.

Mitochondria are curious little things. Most of your body is built using blueprints cobbled together from the DNA of both your mother and father. But mitochondria contain their own, separate little bit of DNA and come only from mum. Your mother's mitochondria, in the egg cell that would become you, were the sole ancestors of those that now power every cell in your body. They pass from mother to child, generation after generation, almost unchanged. But when there is a fault, this too is passed down and the results, in those power hungry organs like the heart and brain can be catastrophic. I read today about a mother who lost seven children to mitochondrial disease. Seven. I can't even begin to imagine that.

Today's decision in parliament should allow doctors to try a new form of IVF treatment, where they replace the faulty mitochondria in the mother's egg cell with healthy ones from a donor. If it works, the baby will be free of mitochondrial disease and so will any children they go on to have. The baby and all those future generations will also carry around the tiny chunks of donor mitochondrial DNA. Inherited genetic material from someone who is neither their mother or their father and this is what some people have objected to.

The Arguments Against.
As far as I can tell the arguments against trying this technique fall into two categories. Firstly there is the "Slippery Slope" fear that this is the first step towards genetically engineered designer babies. I have very little time for this argument in this particular case. The genetic material, the DNA, that is being donated won't make the baby smarter or taller. It won't give them blond hair or help them win an Olympic medal. It will just stop them dying horribly and needlessly. The techniques involved aren't even the same as those that would be needed to make a truly designer baby.

The second concern is that we don't yet know if this is entirely safe for the babies. A lot of work has already been done and it seems very promising but nothing in life is completely safe and we can't yet be sure there won't be unforeseen problems. The thing is, the only way we can be sure is to try it. There comes a point in all medical advances where we have to summon our courage and have a go. There was once a first heart transplant, a first IVF baby, without them the thousands who have followed could never have benefited. The idea of taking risks with an unborn child, of them being part of an experiment, feels repellent, but the alternative is to step back and do nothing while those babies continue to be born into suffering, and shrug our shoulders as couples are forced into childlessness. To me, if we have a hope of changing things for the better, then, on balance it would be more repellent not to even try.

The Politics
As a scientist and a mum I am delighted that MPs voted in favour of this today. As someone who has deep concerns about much of what our politicians do, I'm also a bit relieved. The church argued against this decision (although it's clear this wasn't the view of everyone involved) as did some MPs from most political parties and I can see how the idea may seem unnatural and disturbing if you don't understand it fully. But most MPs did manage to grasp either enough of the science, or of compassion for the families involved to vote yes. After some of what has gone on in this parliament, especially with our health service, I take some comfort from that.

So well done, for once, to the MPs and even more so to the parents who have campaigned and the scientists an doctors who have got us this far. Our soggy little island punches way above it's weight when it comes to science. We've made huge contributions to understanding life and to improving it. This next step is brave and not entirely without risk but I think we should be proud of taking it and of the hope it can give to families all over the world.