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Jul 08, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- BLOOD TESTS COULD PREVENT INFANT DEATH

Monitoring blood and oxygen levels in infants undergoing congenital heart surgery could spare them from death, scientists say. The American Heart Association estimates each year more than 25,000 U.S. babies are born with heart defects, the most common birth defect-related cause of infant death. The study, reported at the 4th World Congress on Pediatric Intensive Care, found three out of four infants who die after undergoing the high-risk cardiac procedure could be spared if doctors monitored their blood and oxygen. The researchers at Miami Children's Hospital found a 74 percent decline in deaths in the highest-risk babies whose blood was tested hourly following surgery with a hand-held device that examines two drops of blood in 2 minutes. "The ability to use a tiny blood sample to accurately test (for) oxygen debt in 2 minutes at the bedside of an infant and then immediately adjust therapy is a major advance in our ability to make life-saving treatment decisions," said Dr. Anthony Rossi, director of cardiac intensive care.


A study suggests extended treatment with the drug Arixtra can nearly eliminate the risk of blood clots in patients undergoing hip fracture surgery. The doctors found patients treated for four weeks with the synthetic antithrombotic agent were 96 percent less likely to develop potentially fatal deep-vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism than were patients treated for the standard period of one week. The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, is the first to evaluate the benefit of extended treatment with an antithrombotic to prevent DVT and PE following hip fracture surgery, the investigators said.


Researchers are offering training in how to monitor and safeguard drinking water by using the sense of smell. Funded by the American Water Works Association and Research Foundation, Andrea Dietrich of Virginia Tech's Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is traveling throughout the United States to train utility staff and managers to use sensory analysis to detect changes in water quality. Dietrich and colleagues developed three odor testing methods for the daily monitoring of raw and treated water. Dietrich says water industry personnel and consumers can learn to identify toxic water as easily as they can detect sour milk. She says because humans respond instantly to tastes and odors, sensory testing is faster than chemical tests, which may take days to analyze. Since 10 to 15 percent of people cannot distinguish common odors found in drinking water, she recommends smell screening tests similar to eye exams that determine color blindness. One method, the Attribute Rating Test, can be used to monitor raw and treated water for specific smells, such as earthy/musty odors caused by the problematic compounds geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol. In a second test, the Rating Method for Evaluating Distribution-System Odors in Comparison to a Control, unusual odors in tap water are compared to scents in water coming from the treatment plant to determine if contamination has occurred. The third evaluation, the 2-of-5 Odor Test, allows an analyst to determine if the odors of two water samples are the same.


New research contradicts studies that disputed the importance of drinking 8 glasses of water daily. Dr. Jacqueline Chan of the School of Public Health at Loma Linda University says, "Water reduces the risk of fatal heart disease in men and women." She says research on blood viscosity -- thought to be a risk factor for heart disease -- suggests dehydration can raise the risk of cardiac disorders.

(Editors: For more information about BLOOD, contact Nadine Kane at 917-689-4952. For HIP, Michael Kaplan at 212-537-8295. For PLASTIC, Lynn Nystrom at 540-231-4371 or For WATER, Rachel Berry at 253-853-5030 or

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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