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Nov 15, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- TIPS FOR SAFE HOLIDAY TRAVEL

With the busy U.S. holiday travel season just around the corner, Graco Children's Products offers some safety tips, with buckling up No. 1. Car accidents remain the leading cause of death for children under 14, with riding unrestrained the single greatest risk factor for fatal injury. Some one in four children under 5 are not buckled in, a survey shows. Carol Helminski, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration instructor and child safety coordinator for Graco, says some 73 percent of child seats are used improperly. Helminski advises parents to: follow the manufacturer's instructions for the vehicle and child safety seat; make sure the child safety seat is appropriate for the child's weight and height; place all riders under 12 in the back seat; never use a rear-facing infant safety seat next to an airbag; place infants under 20 pounds and younger than 1 in a seat facing the rear; anchor the child seat to the vehicle seat using an adult seat belt or the LATCH installation system; do not use a child seat that is more than 6 years old, has been in a crash or is missing the manufacturer's label; and use booster seats for children over 30 pounds.

ABDOMINAL FAT RAISES DISABILITY RISK

Wake Forest University scientists say abdominal fat raises the risk of future disability. The study results, reported by Denise Houston of the Baptist Medical Center at the annual meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity, show middle-age adults with the highest levels of abdominal fat had the most difficulty performing such daily tasks as cooking, getting dressed and walking across a room nine years later. "Even among normal-weight participants, having higher levels of fat in the abdomen was associated with ... disability," Houston says.

HEART 'JACKET' PREVENTS FURTHER DAMAGE

To halt heart deterioration in patients with heart failure, St. Louis University scientists advise wrapping the heart in a mesh-like net to stop enlargement. Research results from a nationwide study show the "heart jacket" technique can help patients feel better and reduce the likelihood they will need a heart transplant. "There was a clear improvement in the size and shape of the heart, returning it to a more normal configuration," says Dr. Paul Hauptman, cardiologist and associate professor in the School of Medicine. "It's a potentially revolutionary approach."

CONDITIONING HELPS PANICKY SMOKERS

University of Vermont scientists say a conditioning technique can help smokers with panic disorders kick the unhealthy habit. They point out not everyone who tries to quit on the Great American Smokeout Nov. 18 will attain equal success. Adults with panic disorders smoke at a disproportionately high rate -- 40 percent versus 24 percent for the general population -- and have a harder time quitting. Another 5 percent, or 2.4 million adults, may develop panic problems when they try to quit. Interventions such as nicotine replacement therapy and counseling don't treat their symptoms, says Michael Zvolensky, assistant professor of psychology. In the new conditioning program, participants learn to deal with their panic-related symptoms through gradual exposure, coping strategies and overcoming illogical fears. By inducing panic symptoms through such methods as having patients hyperventilate or breathe CO2-enriched air, smokers learn to tolerate panic symptoms and react differently to those sensations. Zvolensky says.

(Editors: For more information about TRAVEL, contact Stacy Becker at (973) 316-1665. For FAT, Karen Richardson at (336) 716-4587 or krchrdsn@wfubmc.edu. For HEART, Joe Muehlenkamp at (314) 977-8015 or muehlenk@slu.edu. For SMOKING, Sherry Stewart at (802) 656-1107 or sherry.stewart@dal.ca)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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