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Oct 06, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- SCIENTISTS FIND WAY TO KICK FEAR

Behavior therapists studying ways to overcome fear have come up with a method that may help patients with anxiety. The University of California, Los Angeles, study of mice showed delivering a stimulus the rodents had learned to fear in bursts rather than pacing it with pauses in between was effective in helping erase the negative reaction. The study, reported in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, is significant for clinical behavioral therapy, said co-author Dr. Mark Barad. The treatment has been shown to be effective in a range of human anxiety disorders, including phobias, panic disorder, social phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. "This is a very strong finding," Barad said. "It's part of a recent wave of important discoveries about fear extinction, findings that will transform both the practice of behavior therapy and the use of drugs as adjuncts to psychotherapy in the next few years."


Babies who sleep in adult beds can be up to 40 times more likely to suffocate, a Saint Louis University study shows. "The odds of death go up dramatically among babies who use adult beds," said Dr. James Kemp, associate professor of pediatrics and director of the Sleep Lab at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital. Some 13 percent to 14 percent of parents said they shared beds with their babies. Kemp is calling for a public awareness campaign to alert parents to the dangers of the practice. "Granted, you want to be close to your baby at night time," he said. "But we don't think babies should be in adult beds." He said younger infants may be at the greatest risk of death in adult beds because they lack the motor skills to escape potential threats to their safety, such as soft bedding or being trapped between the bed and the wall. The study, reported in the journal Pediatrics, examined the risk of suffocating of babies under 8 months old.


Proper prevention and common sense can help keep children's teeth healthy, even during a holiday as sugar-coated as Halloween. The Academy of General Dentistry has issued some tips on how to keep your children's teeth cavity-free on Trick-or-Treat day, and all year long. The academy says it is unrealistic for parents to try to prevent youngsters from eating any candy. Rather, they should promote healthy brushing habits and good nutrition all year long. Sugar-free gum is a good treat for youngsters since it may actually help prevent cavities if it contains the artificial sweeteners sorbitol and xylitol, the academy said. The dentists also advocate consuming foods high in sweets in moderation and they encourage parents to make certain their children take proper care of their teeth. "While healthy alternatives to candy such as fruit and nuts are great, these foods are sticky and can get caught in the pits and grooves of teeth, causing decay," said academy member Julie Barna. "Reading nutrition labels and being sensible about the foods you and your children eat on a daily basis helps promote good oral and overall health."


Seniors, the fastest growing group of drivers in the country, can stay safe on the road by having regular eye exams to check their vision, doctors say. "While reducing speed might seem to compensate for reduced ability to see, this may not be the safest course of action," said optometrist Melvin Shipp of the University of Alabama, Birmingham. "The best way for an older driver to protect himself and those around him is to have an annual comprehensive eye exam and correct for any vision impairments."


(Editors: For more information about FEAR, contact: Pam Willenz at (202) 336-5700 or For SLEEP, Nancy Solomon at (314) 977-8017 or For TEETH, Susan Urbanczyk at (213) 440-4308 or For EYE, Tracy Bischoff at (205) 924-8925 or

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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