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Infant Weight Gain Found Later in Childhood; Flu Shots Do Not Trigger Asthma - 2001-12-13

A new study by Children's Hospital in Philadephia, Pennsylvania found that infants who gain weight rapidly tend to be obese later in childhood. Leading researcher Nicolas Stettler came to that conclusion after examining the data of 19,000 children who were born between 1950 and 1969 in 12 U.S cities.

"What we observed in our study is that children who gained weight rapidly during the first four months of life had an increased risk of being overweight when they were age seven," Dr. Stettler says.

He also says that the rapid neurological development that occurs between the first four to six months of infancy may influence the appetite and weight balance of a child. So, he says an overweight infant who eats a lot may have similar weight pattern and eating habits later in life.

The type of food that infants are fed may influence their weight patterns. Dr. Stettler says that infants who are breast fed four to six months are less likely to be overweight than formula fed infants.

"One of the possible explanations is that breast fed infants are more able to regulate themselves, their intake. Therefore, they cannot be overfed as formula fed infants that are fed through a bottle. Another possible explanation is that there are factors in the breast milk that help the infants regulate their weight gain and those factors are probably not present in formula," he explains.

Pediatrician Nicolas Stettler concludes that breast fed infants are less likely to be overweight during their infancy as well as during their childhood.

Flu shots do not trigger asthma attacks. That was the result of a study conducted by 19 American Lung Association Asthma Clinical Research Centers across the country. More than 2,000 children and adults who were diagnosed with moderate to severe asthma received the flu vaccine without developing asthma attacks.

Study author Charles Irvin, director of the American Lung Association Asthma Clinical Research Center at the University of Vermont, says that the results of the study have important health implications because they encourage people who suffer from asthma to get vaccinated against influenza. So far, he says, only about 10% of Americans with asthma get the flu shot each year because they are afraid it would adversely affect their asthma condition.

At the same time, says Dr. Irvin, influenza is responsible for substantial illness in both children and adults who suffer from asthma. Specifically, data from the study show that in the United States - with an estimated 26 million diagnosed asthmatics - viral infections such as the flu are the number one trigger of asthma attacks in children, and the second most common cause of asthma attacks in adults.

To protect themselves from the virus that can trigger these asthma episodes, Dr. Irvin urges all asthma patients to get their flu shots. A new study by Brown University School of Medicine in Providence, Rhode Island, shows that aspirin may reduce the severity of an ischemic stroke. Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot or other blockage reduces the flow of blood and oxygen in the brain. Patients can experience permanent neurological damage including paralysis and loss of speech.

Dr. Janet Walterdink conducted the study which included more than 1,200 patients. Forty percent of them had taken aspirin at least once in the week preceding their stroke. Of those, only 10 percent suffered severe strokes. Of the non- aspirin users, almost 20% had a severe stroke.

Dr. Walterdink says that the results of the study suggest that aspirin consumption may be associated with milder ischemic strokes. Previous research has shown that aspirin improves blood circulation in the body. According to Dr. Walterdink, researchers now suspect that the non- prescription drug may also improve blood circulation in the brain and so, prevent blood clots from forming there.

She says that if patients have minor strokes after taking aspirin, they should not consider that the aspirin failed but that the strokes might have been more severe if they had not taken aspirin.