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Am Fam Physician. 1998;57(8):1755

From 1970 to 1995, enrollment of Asian students in allopathic medical schools rose dramatically, from about 1 percent of all students to about 17 percent, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. During that period, enrollment of blacks rose from about 4 percent to 7 percent, and enrollment of Hispanics rose from below 1 percent to over 5 percent. Native American enrollment has remained at about 1 percent.

Americans may be missing the point. When asked to name the two or three most serious problems facing children in America today, survey participants' top three answers were drug abuse (56 percent), crime (24 percent) and home life breakdown and related problems (22 percent). What's upsetting, according to The Nation's Health, is that less than 2 percent cited poverty and less than 1 percent cited health care; even more upsetting, only 29 percent of parents surveyed had heard about a new “government program to provide health insurance for children without insurance.”

You may want to think twice before buying a microwave as an anniversary gift for your spouse. According to a Public Pulse survey, cited in American Demographics, 55 percent of Americans feel a microwave is a “necessity” rather than a “luxury.” What are some other possibly less romantic gifts? The survey showed that a remote control for the TV/VCR is seen as a necessity by 36 percent of Americans, an answering machine by 35 percent, a second car by 32 percent, a VCR by 31 percent, a fax machine for office use by 27 percent, a cordless phone by 23 percent and a second TV by 22 percent.

And on the alternative medicine front: acupuncture is helping addicts beat crack, alcohol and cigarette cravings even though they have turned a deaf ear to other types of treatment. According to the Medical Tribune, sticking five needles into certain points on the outside of the ear for about 45 minutes can reduce cravings and ease withdrawal symptoms. It also helps patients sleep and feel better, which makes them more inclined to attend drug counseling, which should accompany any drug treatment program, including acupuncture.

Headache journal recently reported several cases of “chewing gum headache,” in which patients susceptible to migraines without aura experienced throbbing headaches after chewing sugarless gum. The culprit? Aspartame, a popular dietetic sweetener used in—you guessed it—sugarless gum.

The Huff and Puff program, developed by Glaxo Wellcome's Care Management Division, teaches asthma self-management to children ages four to eight years with varying levels of asthma. Videotaped puppet shows teach children how to manage asthma attacks, and classes show parents how to work with their child's physician to create a care plan. The program, designed to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency room visits, will be offered initially to 80 children.

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Copyright © 1998 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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