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Am Fam Physician. 2000;62(9):1961-1962

Investing in a good crib for your infant could be a priceless step when it comes to saving your baby's life. A study published in the September issue of Pediatrics electronic pages shows that babies who are put to bed on improper surfaces have a greater risk of dying. Researchers found that of the 119 infant deaths in St. Louis between 1995 and 1997, more than half of the infants had been sharing sleep surfaces, and 17 of the infants had been trapped by the bed, the bedding or the body of a bedmate.

Parents whose dietary pattern is a cycle of dieting, bingeing and dieting tend to raise overweight kids. That's one of the conclusions drawn from the Framingham (Mass.) Children's Study, in which 92 children were followed for six years. According to a report in a recent issue of Family Practice News, parents who alternate between disinhibited eating and dietary restraint raise children who gain the most body fat over time. Parental binge/diet habits seem to be a greater contributing factor in their children's weight gain than parental obesity.

The beat goes on. An added benefit of cholesterol-fighting drugs may be that they also help prevent disturbances to normal cardiac rhythm. A study published recently in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, focused on patients with a history of serious ventricular arrhythmia. Researchers found that patients who took lipid-lowering medications were half as likely to have a repeat episode of ventricular arrhythmia than patients who didn't take these medications.

It pays to practice what you preach. Thirty-five percent of female physicians take vitamin supplements on a daily basis. This is the same percentage of the general population taking daily vitamins, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

In the continuing saga of healthier air travel: a recent article in Air France News reports that the airline is designating all Air France flights smoke-free, starting this fall. The airline is aware that it will be difficult for some passengers, many of whom have spent years puffing away nonstop on long international flights, to comply with the new policy. In an effort to help, Air France is offering smoking passengers on-site airport consultation with a specialist to help them endure the torture of inhaling only clean air for several hours at a stretch. If that isn't enough, nicotine substitutes (2-mg microtabs) will be available from flight attendants on all long-distance flights.

First the good news: the occurrence and mortality rates of all cancers have declined over the past 10 years in the United States. Now the bad news: according to an article published in the July/August issue of CA–A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, the incidence rates of melanoma continue to increase. Experts emphasize early detection and proper protection from the sun until they can determine what works best in preventing melanoma.

According to a recent article in JAMA, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among U.S. teenagers 15 to 19 years of age. The incidence of fatal car crashes in 16- and 17-year-old drivers increased with the number of passengers they were carrying in their vehicles. The number of fatalities among drivers in this age group also increased when the passengers were male or traveling between midnight and 6 a.m.

Warning: losing your job when you are older can be dangerous to your health. Yale University researchers studying displaced and continuously employed workers older than 51 years discovered that those who were laid off had more mental and physical health problems. The study, published in the Journal of Gerontology: Social Science, showed that displaced workers displayed more signs of depression and reported difficulty in performing common tasks. Older workers may suffer more because they are more closely tied to their jobs and concerned about saving money for retirement.

Occupational hazards affect many in the work force. This hazard may come in the form of endangering a gastroenterologist's health. A study published in the British Medical Journal showed that these subspecialists are at great risk of acquiring Helicobacter pylori infection. Of the 92 gastroenterologists who were given a 13C urea breath test, 36 tested positive for the infection. The infection may be transmitted while physicians perform endoscopies on infected patients. Wearing gloves does not prevent transmission, but facemasks may be protective.

When rosacea reddens your face, it can also embarrass you professionally. According to a study published in Rosacea Review of 700-plus rosacea patients, 66 percent of those with severe symptoms said that it had affected their professional interactions, and 55 percent of those with moderate symptoms reported that it had disrupted their work lives. With effective treatment, 70 percent said that their work lives had improved.

“You seem tired and frustrated today—would you like to talk about it?” Can you imagine your computer sending you such a message? Software may soon be available that can detect the emotional state of the user. Ongoing studies at such notable research centers as MIT, Northwestern and Carnegie-Mellon universities, among others, are making progress in enabling computers to detect human feelings. According to Computers and Medicine, emotion-detecting software might soon detect (and warn) people with high blood pressure who are becoming frustrated or angry.

Experienced scuba divers know that taking medication before a dive is usually a bad idea. Even so, many think it is safe to take two popular over-the-counter drugs: one for preventing or easing the effects of motion sickness, and the other to relieve pressure in the sinuses and ears. According to a study published recently in Pharmacotherapy, physicians at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have found the sinus relief medication to be “relatively safe” when taken before diving. However, they found that taking the motion sickness prevention drug before diving could result in serious deficiencies in mental functioning and judgment during a dive.

“Keep going. Only four more!” A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that while you do not need a personal trainer to reach maximum fitness, some coaching helps. A group of 20 men 18 to 35 years of age who had a year or two of resistance training were divided equally into supervised and unsupervised groups for a 12-week period. While both groups showed improvement in strength after the training periods, the supervised men showed a 30 to 45 percent higher improvement in strength indexes. They also peaked 30 percent faster. “Great job!”

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