In brief

Updated: 2011-03-23 07:40

(China Daily)

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Rear-facing car seats safer for kids

Children should ride in rear-facing car seats longer, until they are 2 years old instead of 1, according to updated advice from a medical group and a federal agency.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued separate but consistent new recommendations on Monday.

Both organizations say older children who've outgrown front-facing car seats should ride in booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits them. Booster seats help position adult seat belts properly on children's smaller frames.

Children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat, the guidelines from both groups say.

The advice may seem extreme to some parents, who may imagine trouble convincing older elementary school kids - as old as 12 - to use booster seats.

But it's based on evidence from crashes. For older children, poorly fitting seat belts can cause abdominal and spine injuries in a crash.

One-year-olds are five times less likely to be injured in a crash if they are in a rear-facing car seat than a forward-facing seat, according to a 2007 analysis of five years of US crash data.

Toddlers have relatively large heads and small necks. In a front-facing car seat, the force of a crash can jerk the child's head causing spinal cord injuries.

Car seats have recommended weights printed on them. If a 1-year-old outweighs the recommendation of an infant seat, parents should switch to a different rear-facing car seat that accommodates the heavier weight until they turn 2, the pediatricians group says.

Drug resistant TB a growing problem

Rising rates of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (TB) are hampering world health programs aimed at tackling TB and threaten to wipe out progress made against the disease, scientists said on Friday.

Experts from the World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said they were concerned about spreading multidrug-resistant TB, known as MDR TB, in Europe, and the persistence of TB among children.

A second report, in The Lancet medical journal, said sub-Saharan Africa was disproportionately affected and accounted for four of every five cases of tuberculosis linked to HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS.

"Increasing rates of drug-resistant TB in eastern Europe, Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa now threaten to undermine the gains made by worldwide tuberculosis control programs," said researchers in The Lancet.

TB kills an estimated 1.7 million people each year and the worldwide number of new cases - more than 9 million - is higher than at any other time in history, they said.

Up to a third of people worldwide are infected with the bacterium that causes TB, but only a small percentage ever develop the disease.

Studies show that people with substance abuse problems, those who are poor and those who live in hard-to-reach communities are more prone to the disease.

Kids' ear infections linked to obesity

Kids with chronic ear infections tend to be heavier and have less sensitive taste buds than their peers, South Korean researchers have found.

It's not the first time scientists have described this relationship, yet nobody fully understands it. One intriguing possibility is that ear infections damage the nerves conducting taste signals to the brain, and so make kids eat more.

In principle, that could play a role in obesity, which has reached epidemic proportions in many areas of the world, because ear infections are one of the most common childhood conditions sending kids to the doctor.

For the new study, Dr Il Ho-shin of Kyung Hee University in Seoul and colleagues compared the sense of taste in 42 young kids with chronic middle ear infections and 42 kids without the disease. All were between age 3 and 7.

The sense of taste was impaired in those kids with ear infections, and they had more trouble tasting sugar and salt than the others.

On the other hand, there was no difference in the thresholds for bitter and sour tastes, according to the new report, published in the Archives of Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery.

The study doesn't prove that ear infections lead to extra poundage, but the Koreans say it's possible that the inflammation may disturb the taste signals, which travel through the middle ear.



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