Trying to stay marriedResearchers have determined that the...

Healthwatch

January 07, 1992|By Universal Press Syndicate

Trying to stay married

Researchers have determined that the kind of therapy troubled couples choose may mean the difference between saving the marriage and saying goodbye. Researchers at Texas A&M University randomly assigned 55 couples with marital problems to one of two kinds of marriage counseling. Twenty-six of the couples took behavioral therapy, which concentrates on helping couples develop skills in communication and problem-solving. A conflict over sharing responsibility for parenting, for instance, might be resolved by negotiating a contract spelling out each partner's duties. The rest took insight therapy, which focuses on the underlying problems that trigger conflicts in a relationship. An insight therapist might try to help the couple learn why the wife feels trapped by child care, or why the husband feels insecure about his ability to be a good father. Each couple had 19 sessions with their therapist. When they stopped, about the same number of couples in both groups claimed the therapy had helped. But the passage of time told another story: Ten of the behavioral therapy couples (38 percent) had gotten a divorce at the end of four years, whereas only one of the insight couples (3 percent) had divorced.

Breath test bad?:

Anyone who's been stopped for drunk driving knows that the police usually offer the choice of having either your breath or your blood tested for alcohol. A study from the University of Wisconsin indicates that it would be better for all of us if there were no choice. Both breath and blood alcohol tests were done on 395 suspected drunk drivers. (The blood alcohol test is highly accurate.) More than two-thirds of the time, the Breathalyzer underestimated the driver's actual blood alcohol level by as much as 12 percent.

Infant asthma and smoking:

Australian researchers have found that the babies of women who smoke are more likely to develop asthma as they grow older. The researchers tested the lungs of 63 month-old infants by spraying various concentrations of histamine down their throats. The higher the concentration, the more the babies' throats constricted and the greater their trouble breathing. (This test didn't threaten the children's health.) Those children whose mothers smoked gasped for air with a fifth the histamine level it took to trigger this problem in other infants. This doesn't mean that smokers' children will all grow up with asthma. But there will definitely be more asthmatics among them.

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