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Nov 29, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- LIFE ON THE FARM MORE ASTHMA-FREE

Wisconsin scientists say farm children have lower asthma rates than their rural peers. A study of 5,000 families, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, shows children growing up on farms were far less likely to ever have had asthma or wheezing than children growing up in other rural settings or in the city. The effect was more apparent for younger children and appeared to be related to living on a farm early in life. The difference was not seen in children who lived on a farm only during later childhood, says lead investigator Dr. Alan Adler of the Medical College of Wisconsin and Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. He speculates the lower rates may be related to lifestyle factors, such as farm children being more likely than other youngsters to have more siblings, be breastfed and have outdoor pets, as well as being less likely to attend daycare.


To help your child beat the holiday eating frenzy, which adds a pound to the average reveler, parents can trick or substitute, a Texas pediatrician says. Dr. Katrina Bolar of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston advises: substitute peanut butter crackers, cereal bars, trail mix or fresh fruit for candy and cupcakes when hosting a party; use fancy pencils and erasers rather than sweets as favors; trick the appetite by downsizing the pre-party meals and offering children low-fat snacks to take the edge off hunger; serve sugar-free drinks such as sparkling water; focus on variety rather than quantity, offering vegetables or fruit and keeping portions small enough to allow for seconds; never force a full child to eat; offer sweet vegetables or fruit for dessert; after eating, take a family stroll or get the children to go outside to play to burn off calories and curb the appetite for seconds on dessert; teach your child holidays are about family, friends and tradition -- not about food.


British researchers say an ingredient found in chocolate can help stop persistent coughs. The report in FASEB Journal suggests theobromine, a derivative found in cocoa, is nearly a third more effective in stopping coughs than is codeine, considered the best cough medicine. Theobromine suppresses the vagus nerve activity that causes coughing. The team also found unlike standard treatments, theobromine caused no adverse effects on the cardiovascular or central nervous systems. "Coughing is a medical condition which affects most people at some point in their lives, and yet no effective treatment exists," says Peter Barnes of Imperial College London and Royal Brompton Hospital. "While persistent coughing is not necessarily harmful, it can have a major impact on quality of life, and this discovery could be a huge step forward in treating this problem."


A national study shows more than half of all children with asthma suffered a severe attack in the past year, Asthma Action America reports. The survey shows the attack in 27 percent of the children was considered life-threatening. The findings suggest the United States falls far short of its treatment goals for asthma. "These are disturbing findings, especially since asthma is a highly controllable disease," says Dr. William Sears of the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine. "We need to help parents recognize that proper asthma control means children are symptom-free all or most of the time. Parents should talk to their healthcare professional about prevention of asthma symptoms and long-term management so their child does not suffer needlessly."


(Editors: For more information about ASTHMA, contact Toranj Marphetia at (414) 456-4700 or For EAT, Judie Kinonen at(409) 772-6397 or For CHOCOLATE, Tony Stephenson at +44 (0)20 7594 6712 or For CONTROL, Kathryn Ritzinger at (212) 798-9829)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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