Ashley Wagner’s trip to the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships was, in her words, “embarrassing” and “horrifying.” Her 2015 victory “tastes the sweetest.”Wagner didn’t just win her third U.S. title in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Saturday night — she demolished the American women’s record for free-skate and total scores. She notched a 148.98 and 221.02, respectively; the previous record had been set only a year ago by Gracie Gold (if there were ever a name made for an Olympian, that’s it). Gold shined in 2014, racking up a 139.57 and 211.69. (Athletes skate twice in competition; a technical program composes a third of the total score, the free skate two-thirds. For the casual fan, the judging system can indeed seem complicated.)Wagner also became the oldest skater to take home the women’s title since Michelle Kwan in 2005 and the first woman since Kwan to win three U.S. championships. It’s unrealistic that Wagner, at age 23, will match Kwan’s nine titles, but Saturday’s record-busting effort was especially satisfying for the outspoken skater, who thinks she has a lot to prove.“I’ve had so many critics over the past couple of months,” Wagner told NBC’s Andrea Joyce after the competition. “I’ve had so many people who said I’m too old for this, I am burnt out.”Wagner is perhaps best known for inconsistency. She fell twice during her messy free skate at last year’s nationals but still made the U.S. Olympic team over a higher-scoring competitor, Mirai Nagasu. Many were quick to deride that controversial decision, although U.S. Figure Skating stood by its choice, citing Wagner’s international experience. She finished seventh in Sochi.So, how did Wagner get to tip-top of the heap in 2015? Sure, keeping her backside off the ice helped, but she also upped her difficulty level and refined her performance. In the chart below, I’ve plotted several elements of Wagner’s 2014 and 2015 free skates. Because a program’s components differ from year to year, this isn’t a perfect measure; I did not include some elements, and others I matched the best I could. For example, in 2014 Wagner’s triple-triple combination (traditionally the most difficult part of a women’s program) was an under-rotated triple flip-triple toe loop, and in 2015 it was the trickier triple Lutz-triple toe loop. In 2014, she performed a triple Salchow; in 2015, a triple flip.Almost across the board, Wagner scored much, much higher. Last year, Mao Asada of Japan won her world title with a total score of 216.69. If Wagner can repeat Saturday’s performance in March — and some might argue that’s a big if — she could easily win her first world championship medal. In gold.
On his website Monday, Tiger Woods wrote that his recovery from back surgery on March 31 is a “slow process” and that he is uncertain when he will compete in another PGA Tour event.“I made the decision to have surgery because physically I just couldn’t make a golf swing,” Woods wrote. “That pretty much sums it up.“I’m doing everything I can and listening to my doctors and working on a strength program, and then we just have to see how my back is. Some people heal up in three months, some people take longer. I just don’t know.“I haven’t used a sand wedge yet. I’ve just done putting and chip-and-runs using the same length of motion. I haven’t really rotated yet. As far as taking a full swing, I have conference calls with my doctors every couple of weeks to see how my progress is and just kind of chart it out from there. Basically, you just follow a program. It’s tedious because it’s little rehab stuff, but you still have to do it.“That’s where I think the experiences of having gone through the surgeries in the past have really helped because you have to lay the foundation down first before you can do the more arduous activities and then return to form. I’m walking and able to cycle now and started swimming last week.”Back pain at the Honda Classic in March forced Woods to withdraw during the final round. He rehabbed the back and tried to play the following week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and shot a final-round 78 to finish 25th. Two weeks later, he pulled out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational and then withdrew from the Masters.“I’ve missed major championships before, so this was not a new experience,” he wrote. “It helps when I’m physically unable to play the game. That’s when it’s easy for me, and I don’t have a problem watching. It’s when I’m playing and closer to getting back out there is when I start getting real antsy about watching events: ‘Can I play, can I not play?’ But when I’m physically unable to play, like in 2008 after my knee surgery, it makes things so much easier.“Once I begin swinging a club again, I’m not sure if I will have to make any changes to protect my back,” Woods said. “That’s up to [coach] Sean Foley and me on what we do. As far as limitations, it’s a building process, just like when I came back from my knee and Achilles injuries. You start from the green and work your way back: putting, chipping, pitching, wedging, mid-irons, long irons, woods and eventually playing. That’s all a process and takes time. We have to make sure my back heals fine and I have the strength and mobility going forward.”One the personal front, Woods said he had the same procedure as the Dallas Cowboys’ Tony Romo and has spoken to the quarterback. He also said he has been rehabbing with girlfriend Lindsey Vonn, the Olympic skier who is recovering from knee surgery. Woods added that he has spent quality time with his children, Samantha and Charlie.
The draw ceremony last week for the Australian Open turned into a draw celebration for the hosts: Australian tennis players got relatively easy matchups in the first round. Their draws were among the most favorable for a host country’s players since Grand Slam tournaments started awarding prize money in 1968. And so far the Aussies have taken advantage, with three men in the third round for the first time since 2004.Host nations’ national tennis associations run the Grand Slam events, and organizers like to be able to showcase home players. So, a draw like this year’s might look suspicious. But there’s no evidence that hosts rig draws in favor of their players. If anything, home-nation players have had rougher matchups than you’d expect by random chance.The difference is small, but the toughest Slam, even including this year’s draw, has been Australia’s. Last year’s was as tough as this year’s was easy, a point hinted at by Craig Tiley, CEO of Tennis Australia, at the draw ceremony last week.Draw luck matters a lot in Grand Slam tennis, because most players are placed randomly. In each of the men’s and women’s singles tournaments, just 1 in 4 players gets a seed, which governs roughly — though not precisely — where they’re placed in the first round. The other three-quarters of players could go anywhere. One-third of them have to face a seed, including one unlucky soul who worked all year to make the tournament, only to face the top seed. The other two-thirds get to play another unseeded player.The winners of those matchups get a seeded player in the second round, unless that favorite was upset in the first round. For unseeded players struggling to make ends meet, good draw luck at one of these lucrative events could mean their biggest paycheck of the year.The draw has been so favorable to Australians that three men have reached third-round matches Friday without having to face an opponent with a Top 20 seed. Two of them face each other, which means an Australian man will reach the fourth round for the first time since 2012.That kind of home advantage has been more the exception than the norm. I checked by looking at men’s singles draws back to 1968 and women’s singles draws back to 1981 at all four Grand Slam tournaments, as provided by Jeff Sackmann, who runs tennisabstract.com. The draw sizes and number of seeds varied in the earliest years in the data set. I tossed the draws that had first-round byes and focused only on unseeded players, because they’re the ones most subject to draw luck. I also excluded host-nation players who made their way through the qualifying draw, because they’re usually slotted in after the rest of the draw has been set. Then for each event, I compared how many seeded opponents the home players could have expected to draw in the first round with how many they did.For instance, this year, with a 128-player draw and 32 seeds, each unseeded player had a 1-in-3 chance of drawing a seed in the first round. Eight Australian men and six Australian women were unseeded and reached the main draw without having to play the qualifying tournament. Just two of them drew seeded opponents in the first round. On average, we’d have expected four and two-thirds of them to draw seeded opponents.That makes this year’s Australian Open one of the luckiest draws for the hosts in our data set of 178 Grand Slam events. Just twice was there both a bigger ratio and a bigger gap between expected and actual seeds drawn: at the 2003 Australian Open, when unseeded home players got two seeded opponents instead of the expected five, and at Wimbledon in 2001, when unseeded British players drew just one seed instead of the expected four and two-thirds.But there is no nefarious pattern here. Last year’s Australian Open was one of the worst for hosts, whose unseeded players could have expected to draw 4.5 seeded opponents but instead drew eight. Wimbledon in 2002 was one of the toughest for hosts, a year after the cushy draw. And the favorable 2003 Australian Open draw followed two straight unfavorable ones for the hosts.Overall in the data set, home-nation unseeded players have drawn 4 percent more seeded opponents in the first round than expected by chance. That’s probably a fluke, particularly for the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, where the difference between actual and expected seeded opponents is in the narrow range between -1 percent to 6 percent. The Australian Open has been the toughest for home players, with 16 percent more seeded opponents than expected. It would take a few more draws like this year’s to even that out.
If you read my Skeptical Football column regularly last season (which I’m sure you did), you may already be familiar with my “gunslinger” obsession. But in case you’re new, here’s the quick recap: For a quarterback to maximize his ability to win, he has to take risks. Just as a coach failing to go for it in certain fourth-down situations costs his teams wins, so does a quarterback who doesn’t alter his game to exploit the situation he faces. Many times this means making decisions that can be costly to a player’s statistical efficiency — and often his popular reputation — in order to slightly improve his team’s chances of victory. In other words, throwing interceptions may not always be bad, and not throwing interceptions may not always be good.To celebrate the QBs willing to make this bargain, last year I picked a Gunslinger of the Week (the QB who set the best example of taking “good, smart risks in their relentless pursuit of victory, whether or not those risks succeeded”) each week. This season, we’re spinning that off into its own post, to be released on Mondays. (MNFers are eligible to steal the next week’s award, but only if they’re really really slingy.) So without further ado:Week 1Philip Rivers and defending Gunslinger of the Year Tony Romo both won despite trailing big and throwing multiple interceptions while they were behind. Those impossible wins are rare feats that I love to reward.But when I looked over the play-by-play, I was less impressed from the gunslinger perspective. Romo’s first interception came with less than a minute left in the first half, on Dallas’s own 20-yard line, and was thrown only 1 yard downfield on a first-and-10. “Good” interceptions are low risk/high reward — or sometimes high risk/high reward — but a bad short pass on first down in Romo’s own territory is high risk/low reward. His second came on a throw that went 2 yards downfield on third and 6, again in Dallas territory. Suffice to say, these were not the kind of plays that signify that a QB is pulling out all the stops to win; they were just good, old-fashioned turnovers.Rivers had two interceptions in the first half, including one returned for a touchdown and one on the Lions goal line. While he eventually pulled out an amazing win, gunslinging had little if anything to do with it. The Lions’ Matthew Stafford — a Gunslinger Award veteran himself — got a little too slingy for his own good and threw two INTs while in the lead to help the Chargers get back into things, and then Rivers sealed the deal with an impressively robotic but decidedly non-slingy stretch of 20 straight completions, only four of which went for more than 5 yards in the air (and eight of which were thrown behind the line of scrimmage).Note: Gambling by throwing downfield isn’t the only way to be a good gunslinger, but it’s certainly one way. Which leads us to this week’s winner:Ben Roethlisberger.This week 11 quarterbacks faced extended multiple-score deficits,1Took at least 10 pass attempts with their team down 9-plus points. and none pushed the ball downfield as hard as Steelers QB Roethlisberger:Playing the Patriots, Roethlisberger threw his passes the farthest downfield by far: on average, more than 12 yards per pass. That included seven attempts of more than 20 yards — more than the rest of these quarterbacks combined.After New England raced out to a 21-3 lead early in the third quarter, things looked pretty bleak for the Steelers. But Roethlisberger brought them to within 7 with a TD (plus 2-point conversion) and a field goal on the next two drives — each featuring passes completed 24 yards downfield. When the Patriots went back up 14, Roethlisberger continued to push, completing an 18-yard pass to get the Steelers to midfield and then going big with a 40-yard pass that was intercepted by Duron Harmon. There’s no shame in being intercepted on a throw that — if completed — would have set up a potentially crucial score with seven minutes remaining.On the final drive of the night, Roethlisberger would push his yard tally to 351 and get a meaningless TD with seven seconds left. But with two minutes left on that same drive — when he probably could have given up and padded his stats a little more easily — he was throwing a 29-yard bomb to Markus Wheaton that a defender got a hand on. Had that been successful, it might have given the Steelers a slim chance of winning instead of none. That’s the kind of choice I like to see.Reminder: If you tweet NFL questions to me @skepticalsports, there is a non-zero chance that I’ll answer them in Skeptical Football. Check out win and loss projections and playoff odds for all 32 NFL teams.
Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James and former coach David Blatt question an official’s call on April 19 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Credit: Courtesy of TNSWhen David Blatt was hired to be the new coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers in June 2014, the roster he was inheriting consisted of all-star point guard Kyrie Irving, the soon-to-be No. 1 pick in the NBA draft and a bunch of young guys and journeymen veterans who had just finished up a 33-49 season.A month later, LeBron James, arguably the best player in the league and one of the most difficult players to coach, decided to take his talents back to Cleveland to suit up for Blatt’s Cavs.Then, a little over a month after that, Cleveland decided to trade Andrew Wiggins, the player it selected with the first pick in draft and a guy who Blatt had coached all summer, to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for superstar forward Kevin Love.By the time the Cavs opened up regular-season play on Oct. 30, 2014, against the New York Knicks, Cleveland had transformed its roster from one of the worst in the league to one that was expected to win multiple championships.All of this pressure was put on the 56-year-old Blatt, who, despite his great success in Europe, had never coached in the NBA, did not have any relationships with current NBA players or coaches, and had not even lived in the United States since the early 1980s when he moved to Israel.An argument could be made that this man was the worst possible choice Cleveland could have made to coach James, Irving and Love.But the fact of the matter is that Blatt was not hired to coach the team that ended up taking the floor on opening night last season. When James and Love are added to your team, the entire complexion of it changes.Fast forward several months to the playoffs and the roster had changed yet again with trade acquisitions Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. Blatt ended up leading the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals, where the team came just two wins short of its first title in franchise history. Many would argue that James and the rest of the gang could have done it with or without Blatt, but, nonetheless, he did coach his team to the finals in his first year.That first year was filled with constant scrutiny from the media, fans and even players. When the Cavs lost, Blatt was given most of the blame, and when they won, he was given no credit. Despite all of this, he never complained and continued to encourage and praise his team and superstar James. Many will point to Blatt’s failure to challenge James as one of the reasons he was fired. But realistically, James has not allowed any coach to challenge him since he was in high school. These same critics of Blatt say that new Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, who basically stole Blatt’s seat on the bench, will be more successful because of his plans to challenge James and the rest of the Cavs’ star players. Lue being a former player — something James has supposedly always wanted in a coach — is pointed to as the reason he will be able to be tougher than his predecessor. The reality is this: Lue was a below-average NBA player, and the players on this Cavs team might respect him more than Blatt but not enough to drastically change the way they play. Their play and demeanor has been — and will continue — to be determined by their true leader: James. Blatt’s track record shows that he is a good coach, just not the right one for this team. The Cavaliers have their coach, and he wears No. 23.
OSU redshirt sophomore pitcher Adam Niemeyer (43) pitches during a game on April 14 at Bill Davis Stadium. Credit: Lantern File PhotoFriday’s deflating loss to Iowa put the No. 4 seed Ohio State Buckeyes on the brink of elimination, and just hours later, the Buckeyes squared off against the fifth-seeded Michigan Wolverines. Another loss in the Big Ten tournament would have sent the Buckeyes home and would have created tension on Selection Monday hoping to receive an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament. At first, it appeared the pitching woes rolled over from the Iowa game as right-handed redshirt sophomore Adam Niemeyer ran into some early trouble, surrendering two earned runs on a hit and two hit batsmen in his first inning of work. However, the Buckeye offense came out in the bottom of the first and scored five runs on six hits to chase the Michigan starter, right-handed sophomore Ryan Nutof, out of the game after only one out in the first. This offensive onslaught was helped by the middle of the order when junior left fielder Ronnie Dawson, second baseman Troy Kuhn and center fielder Troy Montgomery recorded three consecutive RBI singles to score the first three runs. Senior co-captain Jalen Washington brought in the next two runners on a single through the right side to give the Buckeyes a 5-2 lead. Thunderstorms rolled into TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska, forcing the Buckeyes and Wolverines to continue play on Saturday. Niemeyer was relieved by freshman right-hander Ryan Feltner because of the weather delay. On Saturday, Feltner got into some trouble in the top half of the fifth. Three straight Wolverines reached base off of a walk, a single and an error which loaded the bases with no outs.After striking out Michigan sophomore Jake Bivens for the first out, Feltner gave up an RBI single to freshman second baseman Ako Thomas to cut the Buckeyes lead to three. Michigan centerfielder Cody Bruder then reached on a fielder’s choice, scoring freshman left fielder Jonathan Englemann, making the score 6-4 Buckeyes after five.As the Buckeyes did in the bottom half of the first, they put any momentum on Michigan’s side into submission after a Dawson RBI single and Kuhn’s two-RBI single to extend the lead to 9-4 in OSU’s favor. The single by Kuhn was initially called foul by the first base umpire, but that was overturned when the OSU coach Greg Beals asked for the umpires to review the call. In the bottom of the seventh, Nennig scored on an RBI double by Kuhn, who was then brought in by Montgomery’s RBI single and cruise to an 11-4 victory.To say that the Buckeyes were hot offensively is an understatement. OSU recorded 18 hits and were 9-for-19 with runners in scoring position. Each Buckeye hitter recorded a hit in the game.This offense helped the freshman, Feltner, have a career day in relief. In his 6.1 innings of work, Feltner gave up two runs, one earned, on six hits and three walks. He also struck out a career high 10 batters on 114 pitches.The Buckeyes will face the No. 7 seed Michigan State Spartans later Saturday. If the Spartans win, they will face the No. 8 seed Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Championship. If the Buckeyes win, they will have to face the Spartans again tomorrow morning to decide who goes to the Big Ten Championship.
Hampered by injuries, running back Brandon Saine’s career as a Buckeye has been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride. Saine was named ‘Mr. Ohio Football’ following his senior year at Piqua High School. In his senior season, Saine rushed for 1,895 yards and 27 touchdowns. Four years later, Saine admits that he’s not the same athlete as his high school career. “Here at OSU, I think I’ve been able to do pretty well, maybe not quite Mr. Ohio football standards.” Partly due to injury, Saine has struggled to put up equivalent numbers. He underwent knee surgery in spring 2007. “I’m glad it happened when I was a little bit younger. Injuries definitely set you back a little bit, but I think that not only physically, but it hurts you mentally too,” Saine said. Two hamstring injuries, one during camp his second season, were big disappointments but served as jumping-off points for improvement. “That injury was able to help me kind of get my head on straight and realize that there’s more to OSU than just starting and playing football,” Saine said. Although his numbers aren’t nearly as impressive at OSU, Saine has become a versatile athlete, finding speed at both running back and wide receiver. Saine has 183 rushing yards and 174 receiving yards on the season. He clearly has the ability to function in both respects. “We think he’s really dangerous as a receiver and as a runner,” Tressel said following the 38-10 victory over Indiana. Saine is third on the team with six touchdowns, only behind wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher and running back Dan Herron, seven and nine respectively. Both Saine and Sanzenbacher have affirmed they are best friends. When it comes to performance on the field, Saine might be slightly more competitive. “I can definitely make it somewhat into a friendly competition (against Dane),” Saine said. “I think it can be fun to maybe towards the end of the year, really see who comes out on top.” Last season, Saine received the Rex Kern award, voted on by coaches and given to an outstanding back. Saine shared the accolade with Herron. “It was a great honor. Anytime you’re able to receive an award like that it kind of shows that your hard work pays off,” Saine said. Saine’s career highlight came on Nov. 21, 2009. “Being able to score a touchdown against Michigan,” Saine said.
The Buckeyes gather on the mound during a timeout in their 4-1 victory over Wright State on Sep. 24. Credit: Gretchen Rudolph | For The LanternThe Ohio State softball team will spend its spring break and then some in California, taking on eight teams across 10 days. It will include 11 games as part of the Louisville Slugger Invitational and the Easton Invitational.One of the opponents includes No. 5 Oklahoma, a team head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly talked about before the season had even started. She called the Sooners one of the most challenging teams the Buckeyes will face all year.But the Buckeyes aren’t interested in analyzing their opponents as much as they are focusing on their own game and what they can control.“Right now we’re just focused on ourselves, not necessarily who we’re playing,” senior outfielder Bailee Sturgeon said. “Our coaches keep telling us, ‘Have confidence in yourselves because when you guys play, you guys are unstoppable,’ so I think that right now we’re just our own biggest opponents and as long as we play Buckeye softball I think we’ll be good.”One team to watch in the Louisville Slugger series will be No. 3 UCLA. The Bruins are undefeated with 19 wins.The Buckeyes also will take on San Diego State, San Jose State, Cal State Fullerton, Loyola Marymount, California State University Northridge and Grand Canyon.Rested and ready to goPlaying so many games in such a short timespan can take a physical toll, from soreness to exhaustion. But the team’s trainers and coaches have made an effort to be sure that the team is taken care of. “Luckily this year we have an awesome staff with coach Claire and Kelsey, our athletic trainer, who recognize when we’re getting fatigued,” Sturgeon said. “After the games we’re doing a lot of recovery, more than we usually do.”Having a weekend of not playing games also has been a big help for the team, giving it a chance to rest up and recharge.“It gives our bodies a rest from the travel constantly on airplanes, in buses, constantly standing and doing games all weekend,” sophomore shortstop Amy Balich said. “But we got the chance to work on some things that we needed to get sharpened up and I think we’ll go to California with fresh new minds and it will be good.”HomecomingHeading to California will be a homecoming of sorts for eight of the 24 Buckeyes on the roster who claim the Golden State as their home.For some, this will be an opportunity for friends and family to watch them play in scarlet and gray. “Oh, I think it’s going to be so fun,” said sophomore infielder Carley Gaskill, a native of West Hills, California. “Coming out [to Columbus], I don’t get to see my friends, they don’t get to see me play and my parents don’t always get to come because I have three other siblings so they’re always with them.”Let the Games BeginThe Buckeyes begin the series Friday against San Diego State and will play Oklahoma on March 18 to end the 11-game stretch.
The Government is reviewing its advice warning parents not to feed babies peanuts and eggs after a new study found that eating small amounts of the foods at an early age may ward off future allergies.Scientists at Imperial College London found that children who ate peanuts between the ages of four and 11 months had a 70 per cent reduced risk of developing an allergy to the nuts compared with children who ate them for the first time when they were older.Children who started eating egg between the ages of four and six months had a 40 per cent reduced risk in comparison.Food allergies affect around one in 20 children in the UK, with peanut and egg intolerance the two most common types.Current advice cautions parents against giving infants allergenic foods such as egg, peanut, fish and wheat, which can cause an malfunctioning immune system to over-react, triggering rashes, swelling, vomiting and wheezing.The new research, which analysed the data from 146 studies involving more than 200,000 children, was commissioned by the UK Food Standards Agency.Professor Anthony Frew, an expert in allergy and respiratory medicine at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, said the study showed that earlier introduction of allergen foods may be appropriate. “Much anxiety and some harm was caused by the UK Government Committee on Toxicology’s 1998 advice on peanut avoidance in high-risk infants being extrapolated to the wider low-risk population,” he said.“Midwives and mothers’ groups assumed that in view of the targeted advice, it might be a good idea for all parents to avoid introducing these foods regardless of their child’s risk of becoming allergic. Eating eggs early could yield a 40 per cent risk reduction of allergyCredit:Alamy Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. “If your child falls into these categories, talk to your GP before introducing these foods,” he said.He also said whole nuts should not be given to babies or toddlers because of the risk of choking.The team also analysed whether introducing peanut, egg, milk, fish or wheat into a baby’s diet earlier affected their risk of autoimmune diseases such as coeliac disease, and found there was no effect on risk.The number of children diagnosed with food allergies is thought to be rising, according to the researchers, although they said this may be because doctors have become better at recognising allergies.The Food Standards Agency said the Imperial scientists had produced a high-quality review.“The Government is considering these important findings as part of its review of complementary feeding for infants to ensure its advice reflects the best available evidence,” said a spokesman.But he added: “Families should continue to follow the Government’s current long-standing advice to exclusively breastfeed for around the first six months because of the health benefits to mothers and babies.” “We now know that the opposite was in fact true.”The Imperial College scientists warned, however, that because their research was a review of previous studies they could not say how many of the babies who were given the allergenic food at an early suffered allergic reactions.Dr Robert Boyle, who led the research, said parents should not give egg and peanut to babies already known to have a food allergy, or other allergic conditions such as eczema.
“However, rollout across the NHS has been slow, meaning people are missing out on treatment to lower their risk of an early heart attack or stroke. Before any future change in practice based on this new research, the widespread rollout of the current cascade testing programme is vital if we’re to prevent people unnecessarily dying from FH”.The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “The majority of people living with familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) are still undiagnosed, putting them at higher risk of suffering a deadly heart attack or stroke before they reach 50.“Early diagnosis in children is likely to substantially improve treatment of their condition and will help find other family members with FH. But before nationwide screening is adopted by the NHS more work needs to be done to show it’s a cost-effective way for picking up individuals with FH which will be acceptable to families.“Current NICE guidance recommends that the most effective screening model is for family members of those diagnosed with FH to be tested, based on BHF-funded research showing the life saving potential and cost effectiveness of running this type of cascade testing programme. Once an FH positive child was found, the parents were then contacted for screening, revealing an additional FH positive parent. Overall, one person at high risk of early heart attack was identified for every 125 people tested.Professor Wald added: “This is an example of an effective screening strategy being combined with routine vaccination, which has clear advantages.“No extra clinic visits are needed and uptake is high because parents are already focussed on the future health of their children and the family as a whole. The one-stop service requires no new clinical infrastructure and as simple and inexpensive to implement.” Screening could prevent 600 heart attacks a year, say researchers Children should be tested for heart disease from as young as 12 months old to prevent hundreds of heart attacks a year, health experts have claimed.Around 1 in 270 people suffer from familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), a genetic disorder which causes naturally high cholesterol putting them at risk of heart problems from a young age.Researchers at Queen Mary University of London carried out cholesterol and genetic test on 10,000 children while they were undergoing routine vaccinations between one and two years old.They found almost double the numbers of children had the condition and they estimate that screening could prevent around 600 heart attacks a year in the under 40s if it was rolled out across the country.Familial hypercholesteraolaemia raises the risk of a heart attack before the age of 40 ten-fold but medication including statins, as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle can dramatically lower the risk.Lead researcher Professor David Wald said: “This is the first demonstration that child-parent screening works on a large scale. It’s the only screening method that stands a reasonable chance of covering the whole population and identifying those at highest risk of an early heart attack.”Now that we’ve demonstrated this as being effective across England, the next step is for public health agencies to consider offering this routinely at the time of childhood vaccination to test all children aged 1-2 years.” Around 1 in 270 people suffer from genetically high levels of cholesterol which raises the risk of a heart attack before 40 ten fold Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.