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Sep 09, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- REDUCING HOME ALLERGENS, LESS ASTHMA

Reducing allergen levels in the home can lead to a marked reduction of irritants and fewer problems with asthma for children, a U.S. study finds. Research teams went to individual households in several U.S. inner-cities and initiated measures to decrease levels of dust mite, cockroach, dog, cat, rat, mouse and mold allergens, as well as tobacco smoke, reports the The New England Journal of Medicine. "Indoor allergens play an important role in the asthma severity in these children," says study author Dr. Rebecca Gruchalla, chief of allergy at the University of Texas Medical Center in Dallas. "We can't just focus on medications. We must also focus on allergen triggers in the home and work with caretakers to decrease or even eliminate these allergens."

VACCINE REDUCES CHILDREN'S EAR INFECTIONS

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, routinely given to young children since 2000, reduces the incidence of middle ear infection and pneumonia. "This highlights that the vaccine significantly decreases illnesses in children and reinforces its importance in our public health efforts," says Dr. Kathy Poehling, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Ear infections and pneumonia are common in U.S. children -- there are more than 7 million cases of ear infection and more than 500,000 cases of pneumonia each year. The study, published in Pediatrics, provides the first data that demonstrates a decline in all pneumococcal-related diseases -- in children younger than 2 years -- since the introduction of vaccine.

GREEN TEA MAY GUARD AGT LEUKEMIA

Green tea contains not only polyphenols that protect against some cancers but it may also guard against a common form of leukemia in the United States. Mayo Clinic researchers have found another component in green tea, known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate, kills leukemia cells by interrupting some of the communication signals they need to survive. The findings are a step toward more effective or easily tolerated therapies to prevent leukemia progression. The researchers say it's too early to recommend green tea to prevent or treat leukemia, but drinking it is unlikely to cause health problems.

BACK-TO-SCHOOL BRINGS BACK ILLNESSES

The start of a new U.S. school year brings new friends, new teachers, but the same old illnesses. "Schools are a living laboratory for most epidemics and diseases," Dr. Wayne Yankus, a pediatrician in Midland Park, N.J., and head of the American Academy of Pediatrics' school health committee, told Better Home and Garden. "Flu epidemics come from kids in school and we know most of our seasonal epidemics will come from schools." Families with school-age children have a higher rate of illness than other families and the number of illnesses per child can be as high as 12 a year. The key to protecting children from many contagious illnesses is: adequate sleep, regular hand washing and eating breakfast every day, according to Yankus.

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(EDITORS: For ASTHMA, Staishy Bostick Siem at (214) 648-3404 or staishy.siem@utsouthwestern.edu. For EAR INFECTIONS, Clinton Colmenares at (615) 322-4747 or clintoncolmenares@vanderbilt.edu. For GREEN TEA, Bob Nellis at (507) 284-5005 or newsbureau@mayo.edu.)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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