ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
38% of U.S. Adults Use Alternative Treatments
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Almost Half of Adults Will Develop Knee Osteoarthritis by 85
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
For All Their Plusses, Pets Pose a Risk for Falls, Too
CANCER
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Higher Vitamin D Intake Could Cut Cancer Risk
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Baby's Sleep Position May Not Affect Severity of Head Flattening
High Rate of Rehospitalizations Costing Billions
Rapid Infant Weight Gain Linked to Childhood Obesity
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
DIABETES
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
DIET, NUTRITION
Iced Teas Pose High Risk of Kidney Stones
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Is It Safe to Go in the Gulf Coast's Water?
Common Pesticide Tied to Development Delays in Kids
U.S. Diet Needs Heart-Felt Overhaul
EYE CARE, VISION
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
FITNESS
When It Comes to Lifting, the Pros Have Your Back
Fliers Can Keep Blood Clots at Bay
MRSA Infections Can Bug Fitness Buffs
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
It Pays to Eat Less as You Age
Vitamin D Best Taken With Largest Meal of Day, Study Finds
Deployment Takes Toll on Army Wives
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Fussy Babys Could Be Out Of Your Control
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Drink Away Dementia?
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
SENIORS
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Therapies for Menopause
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
Supportive Weigh-In Program Keeps Pounds Off
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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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