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Am Fam Physician. 2005;72(8):1442

Watching television is often a mindless experience, but can it actually make kids more mindless? According to a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, it might. Researchers examined 1,800 children six and seven years of age and found that those who had watched television for more than three hours per day before the age of three years scored slightly lower on intelligence and academic tests than their counterparts. Of 400 third-graders in California, those who had televisions in their bedrooms scored eight points lower on Peabody Individual Achievement math and language arts tests than those who did not have televisions. The studies support other data recommending that children not have televisions in their bedrooms. (Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, July 2005)

Eating some chocolate can be good for you, according to a study published in Hypertension. Comparing the health benefits of dark chocolate and white chocolate, researchers found that eating a 3.5-oz bar of dark chocolate daily was associated with a drop in systolic and diastolic blood pressures. The chocolate also decreased low-density lipoprotein and total cholesterol levels, improved flow-mediated dilation, and helped decrease sensitivity to insulin. The white chocolate had no benefit because it was not as rich in heart-healthy flavonols, which researchers say contribute to decreases in blood pressure and cholesterol levels. (Hypertension, July 18, 2005)

Losing weight might be the newest way to get rich quick. According to the results of a study published in Economics and Human Biology, there seems to be a strong association between weight loss and increased wealth. Researchers used data on 7,300 people who participated in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth from 1985 to 2000; during this time the same people were interviewed repeatedly. Of those who reported a 10-point drop in body mass index (BMI), many saw an increase in total average wealth. White women ended up making $11,880 more, white men saw an increase of $12,720, and black women increased their salaries by $4,480. The results also showed that a one-unit increase in BMI was associated with an 8 percent decrease in wealth. (Econ Hum Biol, July 2005)

Does the time of day a baby is born impact its survival? Researchers for a study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology say it might. They examined records of 3.3 million babies born in California between 1992 and 1999 and found that babies born between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. were 12 to 16 percent more likely to die within 28 days than those born during daylight hours. Although researchers are not sure of the exact reasons for this increase, their findings support previous studies conducted outside the United States. Those studies suggested that fatigue and lack of experience of night staff have a negative impact on survival, as do the higher mortality rates that tend to occur during shift changes for doctors and nurses. (Obstet Gynecol, August 2005)

Modern baseball catcher’s mitts aren’t doing their job. According to a study in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, baseball catchers’ hands receive repetitive trauma that their mitts don’t prevent. A research team examined the catching hands of 36 minor league players and found that catchers were much more likely to have lower digital brachial indices, and 44 percent of catchers reported pain, numbness, and weakness in their gloved hands. Doctors found that the modern design of catcher’s mitts, which have significantly less padding than earlier designs so that catchers can better control the ball, does not protect the hand as well from trauma. Modern gloves can improve a player’s game, but doctors suggest designing new gloves to better protect a player’s hands. (J Bone Joint Surg Am, July 2005)

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