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Reye's Syndrome

Volume 76: debated on Wednesday 3 April 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the estimated incidence of Reye's syndrome in England and Wales; what is the estimated mortality; and how the figures compare with the incidence in the United States and Northern Ireland.

In the year 1 August 1983 to 31 July 1984 82 cases in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland were reported to the communicable disease surveillance centre under its voluntary reporting scheme. Of these, 58 were in England and Wales and 17 in Northern Ireland. The estimated incidence based on these figures is 0·5 and 4·0 respectively per 100,000 children under 16 years old. In total 34 deaths were reported, representing a 41 per cent. mortality rate. The estimated incidence of Reye's syndrome in the United States of America in 1984 was 0·3 per 100,000 children under 18 years old.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make Reye's syndrome a notifiable disease.

The voluntary reporting scheme started in August 1981 by the British Paediatric Association and the communicable disease surveillance centre appears to be working effectively and we have no plans to replace it with a statutory reporting system.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what conclusion was reached by the March meeting of experts arranged by his Department which discussed cot deaths and post neonatal mortality, regarding the possible involvement of Reye's syndrome in actual and near miss cot deaths.

I understand that no definite conclusions were reached at the meeting regarding the possible involvement of Reye's syndrome in sudden infant deaths.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what research is currently being undertaken into Reyes syndrome; who is financing it; what is the nature of the research; and when the results are expected.

I understand that currently there are underway at the communicable diseases surveillance centre a two-year epidemiological study, using the voluntary reporting scheme, to determine the part played by risk factors suggested by previous studies, and a follow-up study of survivors reported to the scheme. Neither the Department nor the Medical Research Council is currently funding studies specifically into Reye's syndrome, but both are prepared to consider sound proposals for research.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services in the study of post-neonatal mortality co-ordinated by Professor John Knowelden, how many of the infants who had suffered a cot death were found also to be suffering from Reyes syndrome; and what proportion this was of the total.

In the multi-care study, individual causes of death were not specifically identified, but were grouped within certain disease categories, and the report does not therefore provide the data requested.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects to receive further advice from the Committee on Safety of Medicines on the alleged association between Reyes syndrome and aspirin; if he will make a statement when he does so; and if he will publish the main points of the advice and the reasons for it.

The committee is actively considering this issue. The committee began to re-examine the matter at its March 1985 meeting when it decided to seek further information for consideration at future meetings. When the committee has finished its work on this, we shall decide whether any statement is needed and, if so, the form it should take.