ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Health Tip: Anticipating Acupuncture
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
New Clues to How Fish Oils Help Arthritis Patients
Human Ancestors Put Best Foot Forward 1.5M Years Ago
CANCER
Meditation May Reduce Stress in Breast Cancer Patients
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Family History Key Player in Brain Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Many Alzheimer's Caregivers Admit to Abusive Behavior
Most Women Struggle With Rising Health Care Costs
3 Steps Might Help Stop MRSA's Spread
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
DIABETES
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
DIET, NUTRITION
Oregano Shown to be the Most Powerful Culinary Herb
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
Eating More Soy May Be Good For Your Lung Function
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Seasons Arriving 2 Days Earlier, Study Says
Are Medical Meetings Environmentally Unfriendly?
Meat-Eating Dinosaurs Used Legs and Arms Like Birds
EYE CARE, VISION
Contact Lens Cases Often Contaminated
Eye Disease, Cognitive Decline Linked in Study
Ordinary Chores Cause Half of All Eye Injuries
FITNESS
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Simple Holistic Approach to Fight the Common Cold
Sun, Smoke, Extra Weight Add Years to Skin
Vitamin D and Bone Health: Are You Getting Enough of This Important Vitamin?
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Soy Protein Doesn't Lower Cholesterol
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
A Little Chocolate May Do the Heart Good
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
Working Intensely Early on May Help Autistic Kids
When It Comes to Toys, Shop Smart, Shop Safe
MEN'S HEALTH
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
MENTAL HEALTH
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Musicians' Brains Tuned to Emotions in Sound
Chocolate a Sweet Pick-Me-Up for the Depressed
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
SENIORS
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
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A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth

TUESDAY, July 8 (HealthDay News) -- A new sweet treat that actually prevents children's cavities should please children and their parents, researchers say.

The tasty syrup, which contains the sugar substitute xylitol, prevented early decay in infants' teeth and may play a role in protecting permanent teeth, says a team from the United States and the Marshall Islands, in the South Pacific.

Xylitol has long been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is already found in food products such as chewing gum.

The compound protects children's teeth by reducing the number of oral bacteria that cause decay, explained study author Dr. Peter Milgrom, a professor of dental public health sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle.

"I kind of look at tooth decay as a kind of malnutrition," he added. A diet high in sugar promotes the bacteria that take in sugars, metabolize them, and produce the lactic acid that creates tooth decay, the researcher said.

The study involved 102 children from the Marshall Islands, ranging from 6 to 15 months of age. The researchers picked these islands as the study site, because childhood tooth decay occurs there at rates that are nearly triple that seen among kids on the mainland.

According to the researchers, 76 percent of the children whose caretaker applied the xylitol-laden syrup to their teeth three times a day were free of cavities a year later.

That compares to 48 percent of the children who did not receive daily xylitol applications.

Milgrom was expected to present the results this week at the annual meeting of the International Association for Dental Research in Toronto.

"It's a real problem that we've got all this dental disease in kids, and we really don't have all the tools we need to battle it," he said. "Of course, we knew that xylitol had these benefits for teeth from other studies that have been done, but they had never been done in small children. So, we sort of put two and two together," he added.

The bacteria, which are the "bad actors" here, can't metabolize sugars from xylitol, and so they die off, Milgrom explained. Only the so-called "good" bacteria that do not create decay and can tolerate being around xylitol live, he said.

Preventing early tooth decay is important to children's overall health in a number of ways, Milgrom added. He said that children with early decay tend to be underweight, often fail to thrive, and don't eat or sleep well, which affects their performance in preschool.

Early tooth decay also is a problem among many children in the United States, according to Dr. Paul Casamassimo, a professor of pediatric dentistry at Ohio State University and a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

For example, in Ohio, about half of five-year-olds have some tooth decay, he said. That number tends to be higher in minority communities because of poor diets and lack of access to dentistry.

Decay in baby teeth is a "gateway disease that leads to decay in permanent teeth," Casamassimo added. "It's probably related to the fact these people have these bacterial factors in their mouths that continue on."

The study, which was co-authored by researchers from the Marshall Islands Ministry of Health, was funded by the U.S. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and the HRSA Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Milgrom said none of the researchers have any financial ties to manufacturers of xylitol.
More information

There's more on keeping kids' teeth healthy at the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

- Carolyn Colwel

SOURCES: Paul Casamassimo, D.D.S., professor, pediatric dentistry, College of Dentistry, Ohio State University, chief of dentistry, Nationwide Children's Hopsital, Columbus, Ohio, and spokesman, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry; Peter Milgrom, D.D.S., professor, dental public health sciences, University of Washington, Seattle; July 5, 2008, presentation, International Association for Dental Research annual meeting, Toronto

Last Updated: July 08, 2008

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