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Jun 20, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- BOOSTER SEATS RECOMMENDED THROUGH AGE 7

A study shows booster seats are more effective than seatbelts in protecting children up to age 8 from suffering injuries in a car crash. The researchers found the booster seats held in place by seat belts lowered the risk of injury by 59 percent as compared to seat belts alone. The study, conducted by researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and funded by State Farm insurance, is the first to suggest the booster seats may offer extra protection to older children, the researchers said in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study showed the booster seat's proper positioning of the seat belt virtually eliminates injuries associated with seat belts, including to the abdomen, neck, spine, back and lower extremities, they said. They found children restrained in seat belts alone suffered injuries to every area of the body. "Now that we have quantified the significant effectiveness of booster seats for children through age 7, I recommend parents and legislators make booster seat use common practice," said Dr. Dennis Durbin, lead study author and pediatric emergency physician. "Parents need to transition children from child safety seats directly to booster seats and keep them in booster seats until at least their eighth birthday in order to provide optimal safety."

FIREWORKS CAN CAUSE HEARING LOSS

July 4th means firecrackers and music, but it could also mean a hearing loss if you are exposed to too much noise pollution, audiologists caution. "I don't think people realize how much loud noise they are exposed to during all the Fourth of July activities," said David Coffin, professor of speech pathology and audiology at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. "We have music playing, use lawn mowers, listen to marching bands and light firecrackers. It is not a good time for our ears." Sounds louder than 80 decibels are considered potentially dangerous; noise created by fireworks, traffic and lawnmowers ranges between 90 and 140 decibels, he said. "Most people will suffer a loss of hearing after being exposed to high levels of noise pollution over a period of time," Coffin said. "But, in some cases it may only take one exposure to cause permanent damage." Warning signs of hazardous noise include: having to raise your voice to be heard; not being able to hear someone 2 feet away; speech sounding muffled during or after leaving a noisy area; experiencing pain or ringing in your ears. Coffin advises minimizing exposure to loud noises and wearing hearing protection such as earplugs or earmuffs when necessary.

GROWTH HORMONE AS TREATMENT FOR OBESITY

Researchers report growth hormone replacement therapy may lower the risk of heart disease and obesity. They said at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society the treatment does not appear to pose an increased cancer risk, as had been thought. Their study showed the potential of the hormone treatment to lower the risk of cancer and heart problems in hypopituitary adults, protect against fatal heart attacks in hypopituitary women and lead to weight loss and improved cholesterol levels in obese patients. Growth hormone is used as replacement therapy in patients with pituitary diseases, which often affects the body's ability to produce growth hormone. Untreated children with growth hormone deficiency grow slowly, reaching a final height far below normal. In adults, growth hormone replacement treatment has been shown to correct metabolism, restoring lean body mass and decreasing fat mass, the investigators said.

DRUG MAY HELP MEN WITH DIABETES

A study shows the investigational drug Levitra was effective in treating erectile dysfunction in men with diabetes. The study, reported at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association in New Orleans, found the treatment improved the men's sexual experience. The study authors said the findings are important because this patient group often is challenging to treat and does not typically respond to Viagra, a popular drug treatment for sexual dysfunction. They pointed out erectile problems occur more often and are more difficult to treat in diabetic men than in the general population. The 6-month study included 452 men with type 1 or 2 diabetes. After 12 weeks, the men taking the treatment noted significantly improved bedroom performance and satisfaction, the study authors reported.

(Editors: For more information about BOOSTER, contact Suzanne Hill at 215-590-1417 or Hillsu@email.chop.edu. For FIREWORKS, David Coffin at 765-285-8160 or dcoffin@bsu.edu. For GROWTH, Marisa Lavine at 301-941-0255 or mlavine@endo-society.org. For DIABETES, Melissa Luke at 212-880-5238 or melissa.luke@ogilvypr.com)

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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