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Am Fam Physician. 2002;65(9):1729

Parents with young children in day care may take comfort in this news: All of those runny noses, coughs, and sneezes may not be in vain. According to a prospective study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, children in large day care centers, who have more colds than children at home or in smaller day care establishments, have greater protection against colds in later childhood. The study results, derived from questionnaires completed by the parents of 1,246 children, showed that the children who had attended larger preschools had fewer frequent colds later on, from ages six through 11. Unfortunately, the protection seems to wear off after age 13

Let…s face it: Hospitals may be clean and bright, but they don…t exactly give patients a warm, fuzzy feeling. A few hospitals, however, are trying to change that, providing amenities fit for a modern, luxury hotel. A recently opened hospital in California with courtyards, multi-story waterfalls, and reflecting pools also provides bedside computers that allow patients to complete admission from their room. In South Dakota, a new surgery center offers gourmet meals with wine and roses, manicures, and even a limousine service that takes patients to local shopping centers. Patients may never want to leave…

What…s riskier than being young?—Being young and poor. According to a study published in BMJ, children between the ages of five and 19 who come from low socioeconomic backgrounds have a greater risk of injury in traffic incidents than children whose parents are highly paid. According to the researchers, who analyzed the records of about 2.2 million children and teenagers in Sweden over a four-year period, the greatest increase in risk involves bicycle-related injuries in five- to 19-year-olds, and motor vehicle–related injuries in drivers aged 15 to 19 years.

Children with allergies can lower their risk for developing asthma by receiving allergy shots as part of their treatment regimen. A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and cited in a press release from the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology showed that children with allergies who receive allergy shots are half as likely to develop asthma as children not treated with shots. The multi-center study followed the progress of asthma in 205 children aged six to 14 years with proven allergies to birch, grass pollen, or both, for three years. Only 24 percent of the children randomly assigned to receive allergy shots developed mild asthma symptoms, while 44 percent of the children who did not receive allergy shots developed asthma.

While studies have shown that breast milk provides cognitive benefits, those benefits are not immediate. A study published in Archives of Disease in Childhood showed that babies who were breastfed for at least six months had higher IQs than babies who had nursed for only three months. Researchers tested the IQs of 345 children at 13 months and at five years. After controlling for the mother…s IQ, education, and smoking habits, the babies who were breastfed longer scored an average of 7.4 IQ points higher.

The problem with the modern diet may not so much be the hamburgers we have for lunch, but what the cows had for their lunch before becoming ours. Two studies, published in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition and cited in The New York Times, showed that wild animals have less total fat than livestock fed on grain. Wild animals also have more of the omega-3, “good” fat and less of the omega-6, “bad” fat, which is thought to promote heart disease. Free-range livestock were found to have the same amounts of fat as wild animals.

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Copyright © 2002 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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