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Chewing gum can prevent ear infections

A new study has found that a natural sweetener commonly found in mints and chewing gum may help prevent ear infections in healthy children under the age of 12.

In the study at the University of Toronto, healthy children under 12 given eight to ten grams of xylitol daily in the form of chewing gum, mints or lozenges had 25 percent fewer ear infections than children given gum, mints or lozenges containing a different sweetener.

 Children too young to chew gum had 30 percent fewer ear infections when receiving xylitol syrup than children in the control group.

 Xylitol, also known as birch sugar, is used in chewing gum to prevent cavities and has been shown to have antibacterial properties. The study’s lead author, Amir Azarpazhooh, said xylitol appears to work in healthy children by inhibiting bacteria.

It concluded that xylitol is a potential alternative for preventing ear infections in children who have problems with antibiotics.

Woodsmoke from cooking fires may cause pneumonia
Two new studies have found that exposure to woodsmoke from cooking fires may contribute to pneumonia and cognitive impacts.

The studies led by University of California, Berkeley researchers indicated that women and young children in poverty are particularly vulnerable to the health effects of smoke from open fires and dirty cookstoves. Pneumonia is the chief cause of death for children five and under.

In the first study, the researchers found a dramatic one-third reduction in severe pneumonia diagnoses among children in homes with smoke-reducing chimneys on their cookstoves.

The second study uncovered a surprising link between prenatal maternal exposure to woodsmoke and poorer performance in markers for IQ among school-aged children.
The researchers found impairments in visuo-spatial perception and integration, visual-motor memory, and fine motor skills.

Dairy food may improve bone health  
Consumption of dairy foods and higher protein may improve bone health during diet and exercise in overweight premenopausal women, a new study has suggested.

Stuart Phillips and his team from the McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario conducted a controlled randomised weight loss intervention trial involving 90 premenopausal overweight or obese women which was designed to achieve weight loss and be supportive of bone health.

They employed modest dietary calorie restriction and daily exercise including aerobic and resistance training with varied intakes of protein and dairy foods.

 The researchers used dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans to assess bone mineral density and content, and analyzed participants’ urine and blood samples to evaluate serum levels of several bone health biomarkers.

They found that consumption of diets higher in protein with an emphasis on dairy foods during a diet and exercise period, positively affected markersof bone turnover, calcium, vitamin D status and bone metabolism in overweight and obese premenopausal women.

“Our findings show that a diet with a high proportion of dairy foods and higher than recommended protein intake was associated with improved markers for bone health,” Phillips, senior author of the study, said.

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