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Acetaminophen Before DPT Shot Curbs Fussiness

February 02, 1988|KATHLEEN DOHENY

For years, physicians have suggested parents give their children acetaminophen, an anti-fever medication, if fever occurs after a DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus toxoids) vaccination.

But giving children acetaminophen before the shot--and continuing it for 24 hours--might prove more effective, UCLA researchers suggest in the American Journal of Diseases of Children.

Such preventive use of acetaminophen, when given at the time of the shot or 30 minutes prior, had a "moderating effect" on fever, pain at the injection site and fussiness, concluded the researchers, whose study of nearly 300 children was funded by the vaccine manufacturer.

"Parents should check with their pediatricians first," advised Dr. Gary D. Overturf, a professor of pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine and associate chief of pediatrics at Olive View Medical Center in Los Angeles, who co-authored the study with other UCLA doctors. "But now there are two studies that have found basically the same thing. Certainly for children with (known) difficulty with the DPT, (acetaminophen) is a reasonable thing to give."

About a third of children given the DPT vaccine have some degree of reaction, Overturf added.

Stitches: Wet or Not?

Should patients keep their post-surgical stitches dry to minimize the risks of infection or disruption to the wound? Traditionally, doctors have been divided on the question.

After studying 100 patients who were allowed to wash their stitches after minor surgical procedures, Harvard physician Dr. Joel M. Noe concluded that "soap and water don't seem to hurt. There were no infections," he wrote in a report of his study published in the current issue of the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

All wounds healed in the patients, said Noe, an assistant professor of plastic surgery at Harvard Medical School and a physician at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston.

"It's probably best to wait 24 hours before washing the wound to allow healing to proceed," he said in a telephone interview. Patients are advised to take showers instead of baths (because bath water is easily contaminated) and wash with their fingers instead of washcloths (to avoid abrasions).

"Surgical soaps and antiseptics may have some advantage over ordinary soap and water, but they are costly, occasionally provoke allergic reactions and do not appear to be necessary," he added, emphasizing his advice applies only to minor surgical procedures.

Effects of Joblessness

Unemployment can be hazardous to your mental and physical health, say researchers who have studied the problem for several years. Now, a University of Michigan research team suggests that the exact effects of joblessness on health depend on a number of factors.

Based on their studies of 146 currently unemployed persons, 162 previously unemployed and 184 stably employed, the researchers report:

--The ill effect of unemployment on health is greater if a worker experiences another important life stress (such as divorce or death of a loved one) about the same time.

--Once unemployed, other life stresses have a worse effect on health than they would during periods of employment.

--The greater your self-esteem while employed, the less ill effect unemployment has on health.

--Financial strain resulting from joblessness, not surprisingly, creates great stress. "The increase in financial strain resulting from unemployment was responsible for approximately half of the bad health effects (found in study participants)," said J. Blake Turner, a sociology graduate student who reported the study with Ronald C. Kessler and James S. House, both professors of sociology, in a recent issue of the journal Psychological Medicine.

Concludes Turner, who believes that some researchers may overplay the importance of learning psychological techniques to cope with joblessness: "Unemployment is stressful, regardless of what you do psychologically to cope."

'Lite' Pancake Syrups

Some "lite" pancake syrups promise savings of 100 or more calories per serving over regular syrups, according to a rating of pancake syrups published in Consumer Reports.

But those calorie savings can quickly disappear if too much syrup is used, according to Gretchen Newmark, a Santa Monica registered dietitian.

"In detailed food records (taken as part of a research study), we found it's not uncommon (for consumers) to pour on much more of a low-calorie pancake syrup than a regular syrup," Newmark said. "So the end result may be that consumers are not saving many calories."

Pool Safety Tips

Drowning in residential swimming pools is a leading cause of death in California for children under age 5, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Among the best preventive measures parents can take, according to commission findings: install a poolside telephone (so children won't be left alone), learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation, keep toys out of the pool when not in use (so children won't be tempted to retrieve them) and repair fences, gates and other barriers.

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