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Posted - May 5, 2004 at 7:40 a.m.



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May 05, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- BREASTFEEDING MAY REDUCE INFANT DEATH

Breastfeeding can reduce the risk of first-year infant death by 20 percent or more, according to data analyzed by the National Institutes of Health. After comparing health records of 1,204 U.S. children who died, between 28 days and 1 year, of causes other than congenital diseases or cancer with records of 7,740 children still alive after a year, scientists at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences concluded breast-fed children had a 20 percent lower risk of dying in the 11-month span. Longer periods of breastfeeding were associated with even lower risk. Promoting breastfeeding can prevent up to 720 postneonatal deaths in the United States each year, the researchers said. Breastfeeding has been associated with lower rates of infant death, but no recent U.S. study has examined the effect of breastfeeding on all causes of death in the first year of life.

PRE-DIABETES DOUBLES UNDER NEW CRITERIA

New criteria have made pre-diabetes -- high risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke -- twice as common, Health and Human Services officials said. According to an HHS estimate -- based on the American Diabetes Association's revised definition from November -- about 40 percent of U.S. adults ages 40 to 74, or 41 million people, now have the condition. The estimate with the previous criteria was 20.1 million people in that age group. The condition is marked by blood glucose levels higher than normal but not yet diabetic. Many people with pre-diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years. But losing 5 percent to 7 percent of body weight through diet and increased physical activity can prevent or delay pre-diabetes from progressing to type 2 diabetes, Dr. Allen Spiegel, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, said in a statement.

ALL-YEAR ASTHMA LINKED TO SMOKING PARENTS

Asthmatic children whose parents smoke at home are twice as likely to have symptoms year-round than children of nonsmokers, researchers say. The University of Michigan team did in-depth phone interviews with 896 parents of asthmatic children, ages 2 to 12 years, in 10 states. The survey found 13 percent of parents of asthmatic children still smoke, even though second-hand smoke is known to trigger asthma symptoms in kids. The study echoes previous findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even small steps by physicians to encourage parents to quit could reduce asthma symptoms in children, the researchers said.

PARENTS LAX ON TV CONTROL, GUN STORAGE

Two-thirds of U.S. parents let their kids watch more than two hours of TV daily, despite concerns about violence, a Wake Forest report shows. One in seven households stores a gun unsafely, the study found. Researchers from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center report 95 percent of 900 parents surveyed think it's important to control their children's exposure to television, video games and computers. Some 60 percent, however, have allowed their kids to watch TV as long as they want, and 30 percent have a television in their child's bedroom, according to preliminary results from an ongoing survey completed at pediatrician offices. Exposure to violence in the media is a predictor of aggressive behavior in young adults, the team noted. Of 246 parents who said they owned a gun, nearly half did not store it to American Pediatrics Association standards. Only 35 percent of 1,600 healthcare providers surveyed said their counseling would result in guns being stored safely. More children die of violence-related deaths each year than from all natural causes combined.

(EDITORS: For more information about BREASTFEEDING, contact John Schelp at (919) 541-5723. For PRE-DIABETES, Bill Hall at (202) 690-6343 or Bill.Hall@hhs.gov. For ASTHMA, Kara Gavin at kegavin@umich.edu or Krista Hopson at khopson@umich.edu. For PARENTS, Rae Beasley at (336) 716-4587 or rabeasle@wfubmc.edu)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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