Freckles are a warningForget the wholesome image of the...

Healthwatch

July 28, 1992

Freckles are a warning

Forget the wholesome image of the freckle-faced child. Those sweet little spots may be a warning of skin disasters to come. "The appearance of sun-induced freckles serves as an indication that a child is sun-sensitive and/or has had too much sun either in intensity or duration," warns Arthur R. Rhodes, the director of Pediatric Dermatology at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Dr. Rhodes urges parents to protect their children from the sun.

The facts of life

When you talk to your youngsters about sex, use the correct terms. Toddlers learn the proper names for other body parts, such as knees and elbows; the genitals should be no different, sex educators tell U.S. News & World Report. "Cute" words signal to children that these parts are different and secretive, says Konstance McCaffree, who teaches sex educators at the University of Pennsylvania.

Reining in baby

Don't feel guilty if you have to put your rambunctious, wandering youngster on a leash. Using commercially produced child restraints may look awful to some adults, but children usually don't mind, says Gregory Fritz, who is the director of child and family psychiatry at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence. What counts, he says, is how a restraint is used: "Obviously, parents shouldn't yank a child around like a dog or ignore him."

Potent findings

Men, nitric oxide (no, not nitrous oxide, or laughing gas) is essential for the complex mechanism of nerves and muscles in )) the penis to produce an erection. That's according to Johns Hopkins University researchers, who report in the journal Science that the discovery could be important for treatment of impotence and also holds hope for the first treatment of the priapism, a painful and prolonged erection unassociated with sexual arousal that affects 40 percent of men with sickle cell anemia.

Dosage debate

Women, a single dose of an antibiotic may be just as effective as the typical five- or seven-day regimen in treating a common bacterial infection. The infection, bacterial vaginitis, is most successfully treated with the antibiotic metronidazol. Researchers report in the Journal of the American Medical Association that their review of studies suggests that the popular recommendation of 500 milligrams twice daily for seven days is unnecessary, and that a single dose or two doses of 2 grams of metronidazol is just as effective.

A sober approach

Don't drink and water ski. An American Water Ski Association study found that skiers who measured between .04 and .05 on a breath-alcohol test -- half of what it would take to be legally intoxicated -- experienced a "tremendous" loss of timing and control.

Cancer screening

Pope John Paul II's recent surgery for a colon tumor highlights the importance of regular screening for colorectal cancer. So says the Philadelphia-based American College of Physicians, which urges people over 50 and those at high risk of colon cancer, because of family or personal history, to be particularly vigilant.

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