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Health : Microwaving Cuts Vitamin, Mineral Loss

September 20, 1988|KATHLEEN DOHENY

Microwaving some foods isn't just quicker than conventional cooking. Sometimes it's healthier, say nutritionists, who cite the following examples:

Vegetables cooked in a microwave retain more vitamins and minerals than those that are boiled, said Evelyn Tribole, an Irvine registered dietitian and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Assn. When exposed to heat during cooking, vitamins and minerals in foods break down and escape into the water. Because microwaving uses heat for a shorter time and requires less water, fewer vitamins and minerals are lost, Tribole explained. No water is required with some frozen vegetables packaged especially for microwave cooking, she added, "so there's no leaching."

Similarly, cooking fruits such as apples and pears in a microwave can preserve vitamins and minerals and offer a healthy alternative to high-sugar, high-fat desserts, suggested Mona Sutnick, a Philadelphia registered dietitian and an American Dietetic Assn. spokeswoman.

Sick Call at Day-Care Centers

Preschoolers in day-care facilities or nursery schools are ill more often than those cared for in private homes, a Rand Corp. study finds, while children cared for in their own homes are sick least often.

Young children (ages 6 months to 2 1/2 years) in day care and nursery school were ill most often, averaging 5.5 days a year, compared with 3.6 days a year for older children (2 1/2 to 5) in day care or nursery schools.

Young children cared for in private homes averaged five sick days annually; older children, three days. Young children cared for at home averaged 4.2 sick days a year; older children, three.

The study, reported in the current issue of the American Journal of Public Health, analyzed data from the National Center for Health Statistics, said principal investigator Anne S. Johansen of Rand, a Santa Monica research institute.

Whatever the day-care arrangement, parents might reduce the chance of illness, suggested Johansen and Dr. Kamel S. Baladi, chairman of pediatrics for CIGNA Healthplans of California, by following this advice:

--"Toilet train early if possible," Baladi advised. (Not being toilet trained, Johansen noted, puts children at greater risk of transmission of intestinal disease.)

--When selecting a day-care facility or nursery school, look for small enrollments.

--Be sure your child eats a balanced diet; consult with your pediatrician about vitamin supplementation.

--Emphasize good hygiene. In particular, teach children "to keep their fingers out of their mouths, noses and diapers," Baladi said. Remind them to wash hands before and after playground activities, before eating and after restroom use.

--Keep immunizations current.

--Be sure toys are cleaned daily.


Estimated average number of bed days per year by type of child care

Age 6 Months Age 2 1/2 to Type of Child Care to 2 1/2 Years 5 Years Day Care Center or Nursery School 5.5 3.6 Private Homes 5.0 3.0 At Own Home 4.2 3.0

Sources: American Journal of Public Health and Rand Corp.

Malignant Hyperthermia

Anesthesia is remarkably safe for most Americans. But in one of every 20,000 to 50,000 surgeries, potentially fatal reactions can occur due to an inherited muscle disorder called malignant hyperthermia, said Dr. Neal Cohen, professor and vice chairman of the department of anesthesia at UC San Francisco, and director of the UCSF intensive care unit.

Malignant hyperthermia is often undiagnosed until life-threatening symptoms are set off by inhalation anesthetics or other drugs, sometimes including cocaine and alcohol, Cohen said. Symptoms can include very high temperature (110 degrees F. or more), rigid muscles and accelerated metabolism. Cardiac arrest, brain damage, internal hemorrhages and even death can result. A drug antidote, approved nearly 10 years ago, has made the mortality rate nearly nil, but is not universally available in operating rooms and dental offices, Cohen said.

Those with malignant hyperthermia or patients who have had unusual reactions to anesthesia should mention the information to their doctors and undergo testing if necessary. "The only diagnostic test is a muscle biopsy," he said. To alert medical personnel of the problem, an identification bracelet should be worn by those with the disorder, he advised.

The Buddy System

Match, a new athlete referral system, promises to help burned-out exercisers and travelers find exercise partners. For a yearly fee, the system supplies names and phone numbers of other members in the same sport and same geographic area who have the same ability level, allowing Match members to get in touch with each other.

"Most of our members are in jogging, cycling, weight training, marathon running, tennis or water skiing," said Jay Sherman, Match president. The system also will try to find matches in a number of other sports, including racquetball, squash, handball, badminton, sailing, surfing and scuba diving. Information: (800) 523-ROMP.

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