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SUPPLEMENTS FOR INFANTS? CONSULT DOCTOR

Nearly one in 10 babies is given supplements or plant-based teas to soothe colic or help with teething during the first year of life, even though the products are unproven and may contain contaminants or spur allergies, a new study says. The report, published in the journal Pediatrics, drew data from a survey of women in late pregnancy and through their babies' first year. Conducted by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2005 to 2007, the study included 2,653 healthy mothers and newborns. The most common products were chamomile and other teas, teething tablets and "gripe water." Sara B. Fein, who researches consumer habits at the FDA and is one of the paper's authors, said mothers may think of such supplements as natural and therefore of less concern, even though they may contain biologically active ingredients. "We're encouraging mothers to be proactive about contacting a physician if they think they should give their child a dietary supplement," Fein said.

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Frequent business travel can take toll

A new study confirms what many corporate road warriors already know: Frequent business travel takes a toll on health. Columbia University researchers analyzed medical records and travel data on 13,057 patients provided by a company that performs physical exams for corporations. Adults who spent 20 or more nights away from home each month were 2.5 times as likely to rate their health as poor or fair, compared with travelers away from home one to six nights a month, according to the analysis, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.People who did not travel at all rated themselves as less healthy than light travelers, and they were 33 percent more likely to be obese. But their poor health was probably the reason they didn't travel, said the study's authors.

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'Interval' cancers more aggressive

Some breast cancers detected between regular screenings were simply missed on the patient's last mammogram. But a majority found during the interim periods can't be found on previous scans at all. Now a new study reports that interval cancers are more aggressive than missed tumors. Previous studies did not distinguish between actual interval tumors and those that were missed on a previous mammogram, said one of the authors, Anna M. Chiarelli, a senior scientist at Cancer Care Ontario. The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, drew on data from 431,480 women ages 50 and older who were screened biennially between 1994 and 2002 as part of the Ontario Breast Screening Program. Better screening technology is needed, Chiarelli said. Until it arrives, she added, women should seek immediate care for cancer symptoms even if they recently had a negative mammogram.

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ABOUT THOSE HOSPITAL FOOD JOKES . . .

"You wouldn't imagine it, but it smelled delicious."

Dallas Wiens, whose full face transplant also restored his sense of smell, reacting to hospital lasagna

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