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Aug 17, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- MUSCLE TRAINING HELPS LABOR

Pelvic floor muscle training during pregnancy appears to help labor, scientists say. The Norwegian study challenges the view that strong pelvic floor muscles, such as those developed from riding horses, may obstruct labor. The team studied 301 healthy pregnant women, half of whom took part in an intensive pelvic floor muscle training program between the 20th and 36th week of pregnancy. The investigators found the training group had a lower rate of prolonged second stage labor -- active pushing -- than did the other women, with 24 percent needing more than 60 minutes of active pushing before delivery, compared to 38 percent in the control group.


Dentists have some tooth-friendly advice for students heading back school, including the warning, "Snack and sip all day, risk decay." Some 54 million students will be going back to elementary and high school in the next few weeks, and the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics remind parents what and how often their children eat affects their oral and overall health. Kimberly Harms, ADA consumer advisor, says, "Constantly bathing the teeth in sweetened beverages and unhealthy snacks is like providing an all-you-can-eat buffet for the bacteria in your mouth -- the bacteria that cause tooth decay." Tooth-sparing tips include: consume sugary foods and drinks as part of a meal, when saliva production increases and helps neutralize acid production and rinse food particles from the mouth; limit between-meal snacks; drink fluoridated water; brush teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, and floss every day.


The American Academy of Pediatrics says smart food choices help a child's overall physical and oral health. Here's what parents can do to promote health in their children: offer more fruits and vegetables and less fat and sweets; pack a healthy lunch, with such munchies as yogurt, string cheese, carrot sticks and peanut butter-filled celery; get involved with the school to help promote nutritious lunch and vending machine offerings; make exercise a part of your children's lifestyle, including 30 minutes of aerobic activity every day or at least three to four times a week.


The drug topiramate appears to work as a treatment for alcoholism, scientists say. Only two such treatments are approved in the United States: naltrexone and disulfiram. A third, called acamprosate (calcium acetyl homotaurinate), used in Europe and elsewhere to prevent relapse in alcoholics, is under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In a trial, reported in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, scientists found topiramate can reduce alcohol consumption and craving. "This study is the first demonstration of topiramate's efficacy for treating alcohol dependence," said study author Bankole Johnson of The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. "Treatment was efficacious at reducing not only drinking and craving for alcohol, but also improving abstinence and lifestyle."

(Editors: For more information about MUSCLE, contact Emma Dickinson at +44 (0)20 7383 6529 or For EATING, Leslee Williams at (312) 440-2806 or For HABITS, Leslee Williams at (312) 440-2806 or For ALCOHOLISM, call (317) 375-0819)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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