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Posted - Nov. 30, 2004 at 8:20 a.m.



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Nov 30, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- 'PURPLE BERRIES' HIGH IN ANTIOXIDANTS

U.S. government scientists say purple berries, such as black currant, are up to 50 percent higher in antioxidants than other varieties. The dark-skinned group, which also includes elderberry and chokeberry, is thus thought to have greater potential to provide more health benefits, such as protection against cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's, than even blueberries and cranberries, say scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The berries soon will be used as part of a growing number of specialty health foods, drinks and nutraceuticals, they say in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

INFERTILITY TREATMENTS QUESTIONED

British scientists say infertile women with recurring miscarriages are undergoing needless tests and potentially risky treatments. Fertility clinics are increasingly offering women tests to measure the number and activity of natural killer cells circulating in their blood, they say in the British Medical Journal. The cells, found in the womb, accumulate during early pregnancy, but their function is unknown, they say. The tests are based on a speculation the cell levels are elevated in women who have a tough time giving live birth or conceiving. As a result, many women are offered powerful treatments, such as steroids or immune suppressant drugs, to reduce the cell levels, a practice that has shown no benefit and may, in fact, pose a risk to mother and fetus, says Ashley Moffett of the University of Cambridge.

WAYS TO KEEP CHILDREN SAFE

Parents need to view candles, fireplaces and trees as potential hazards to children during the holidays, U.S. researchers report. Dr. Kate Perkins of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center offers these safety tips: keep lit candles out of reach of youngsters; be careful of glass ornaments that can break and cut fingers or be ingested; never leave children alone in a room with a burning fire; surround the fireplace with a sturdy screen; keep the Christmas tree stable and well hydrated to reduce fire danger; let your host know ahead of time of your child's allergies; be wary of hard candies, nuts, veggie sticks, hot dogs and other treats that present choking risks; make sure the home you're visiting is child-proofed before letting your child roam; keep a list of emergency numbers for the sitter; watch your child closely at crowded malls and shopping centers; keep all pool gates shut; give age-appropriate toys and gifts; and, keep potential toxic products -- cleaning agents, cosmetics, plants, pain relief medications, cold medications -- under lock and key.

REASONS FOR FEELING BLUE POSTPARTUM

Canadian researchers list recent immigration, lack of partner support and hypertension as risk factors for feeling depressed after giving birth. University of Toronto nursing Professor Cindy-Lee Dennis and colleagues at the University of British Columbia have developed a model that predicts which mothers are at high risk of developing depressive symptoms in the early postpartum period. Their study, published in the Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavia, looked at nearly 600 mothers. Early detection is important because low mood shortly after delivery can lead to postpartum depression, Dennis says. "The next step is to develop accessible and effective preventive and treatment plans for these women," she says.

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(Editors: For more information about BERRIES, contact Michael Bernstein at (202) 872-6042 or m_bernstein@acs.org. For INFERTILITY, Emma Dickinson at +44 (0)20 7383 6529 or edickinson@bmj.com. For HOLIDAY, Sandra Van at 800-880-2397 or sandy@vancommunications.com. For BLUES, Elaine Smith at (416) 978-5949 or elaine.smith@utoronto.ca)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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