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Oct 28, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- TRANS FAT HURTS MEMORY, LEARNING

Trans fat has been linked to heart disease and cancer, and now the cooking and baking ingredient has been linked to learning and memory, a U.S. study finds. Neuroscientist Lotta Granholm, who presented the findings at the annual conference of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, found trans fats -- found in many fast foods and processed foods like crackers, cookies, doughnuts, cakes and breads -- impaired memory and learning in middle-age rats. Rats were given a diet that contained 10 percent hydrogenated coconut oil, while other rats got the same diet except soybean oil was substituted, reported the Baltimore Sun. "The trans fats made memory significantly worse," said Granholm, of Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

WARM OFFICES, WORKERS WORK BETTER

Cornell University's Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory in New York finds office temperature affects worker performance. Alan Hedge says when the office temperature in a month-long study increased from 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, typing errors fell by 44 percent and typing output jumped 150 percent. "The results of our study also suggest raising the temperature to a more comfortable thermal zone saves employers about $2 per worker, per hour," says Hedge, who presented his findings at the 2004 Eastern Ergonomics Conference and Exposition in New York City. "At 77 degrees Fahrenheit, the workers were keyboarding 100 percent of the time with a 10 percent error rate, but at 68 degrees, their keying rate went down to 54 percent of the time with a 25 percent error rate," Hedge says.

HOME NURSE VISIT HELPS BABY HEALTH

Home nurse visits after childbirth reduce U.S. healthcare costs and greatly limit the number of emergency department visits and hospitalizations for infants. A Pennsylvania State Children's Hospital study, published in the journal Pediatrics, says the first 10 days after birth is a medically risky time for new babies. "The most common reasons for infant hospital readmissions or trips to the emergency department in that time period are jaundice and dehydration, both of which are usually preventable," says study leader Ian Paul. The study suggests that a low-cost home nurse -- $85 per visit -- can significantly reduce the need for a visit to the emergency room -- $400 -- or a hospital admission -- $4,000 -- for jaundice and dehydration and, most importantly, prevent babies from getting sick.

AMBULATORY SURGERY CENTERS AN OPTION

Thirty years ago, nearly all surgery took place in hospitals, but today 70 percent of all surgeries in the United States are outpatient. One out of every five outpatients surgeries is performed at an ambulatory surgery center, and although there are 4,000 ASCs nationwide, many patients are unaware they are an option. ASCs are state-licensed facilities that are Medicare certified, accredited and 95 percent of all medical staff are board certified. Cataract surgery, colonoscopies and knee repair are often offered at ASCs. At an ASC, patients can avoid safety issues encountered in hospitals, such as the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to the Federated Ambulatory Surgery Association. A state department of health has a list of ASCs. Patients should discuss with a physician if an ASC is an option for a particular procedure.

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(EDITORS: For more information on WARM OFFICES, contact Susan S. Lang at (607) 255-3613 or SSL4@cornell.edu. For NURSE, Valerie Gliem at vgliem@psu.edu. For AMBULATORY SURGERY CENTERS Allison May Rosen at (202) 339-0111.)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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