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Am Fam Physician. 2000;62(7):1491

Picture this: a family gathered together at the dinner table—it's a good way for parents to be sure the kids are eating properly, right? Actually, that concept is supported in a recent Nutrition and Health News Alert published by the National Dairy Council. The newsletter cited a new study of the nutritional quality of the diets of 16,000 children, ages nine to 14. The children who often ate dinner with their families had a more nutritionally healthy diet, including nutrients such as folate, calcium, iron and vitamins B6, B12, C and E. Of course, these data assume that the main course at the dinner table is something other than cheeseburgers and fries served from a paper bag.

“Better late than never.” A recent study published in the journal of the American College of Chest Physicians found that coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery is as successful in elderly patients (≥ 77 years of age) as it is in patients about 15 years younger. The same rate of cardiac events was reported five years after CABG surgery in both age groups among 1,570 patients whose records were examined.

Is Alzheimer's disease inevitable? It all depends on how you look at it. In a study conducted by the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Washington University School of Medicine, six of the 69 participants (at least 90 years of age) showed no cognitive decline before death or brain changes after death. Most people who live to be 90 develop Alzheimer's disease; however, these researchers consider their results a “half-full glass of hope” for at least a few of the people who will live into their 10th decade.

Forget breathing into a paper bag, gulping down a glass of water or having someone scare the living daylights out of you to cure a case of hiccups. According to a case report published recently in the Canadian Family Physician, sexual intercourse might be a treatment for intractable hiccups, although no reports in the literature support the theory. Further study is called for, but researchers shouldn't have any trouble finding volunteers!

Bright new smiles can be created by an old procedure. Children with facial development problems are now benefiting from distraction osteogenesis surgery, which was first used to stretch leg bones. Small jaw deformities, usually caused by congenital growth problems, can lead to sleeping, eating and swallowing difficulties. A surgeon at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston inserts a rod and turning pin in the jaw bone. In about three months, the device can be removed, leaving only a tiny scar.

It's never too early to begin watching your child's weight. By the time a child is two, parents and physicians can assess the likelihood of that child becoming obese. The Department of Health and Human Services' recently revamped children's growth charts, and new body mass index charts for young people ages two to 20 were published in U.S. News & World Report. To determine a child's risk for obesity, the child's BMI is calculated, and that number is plotted against the child's age and gender.

Vitamin E has benefits beyond being good for your skin. In a study at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, it was found that a high intake of vitamin E benefited patients with type II diabetes. Inflammation caused by white blood cells was reduced when they were given 1,200 IU of vitamin E daily for three months.

From the “It took how many people to figure this out?” file: according to an article published recently in the British Medical Journal, candy cigarettes, which are manufactured and packaged to look like the real thing, may encourage children to smoke.

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