Health Buzz: Antibiotics Help Malnourished Children in Malawi

Identifying nightmares and their causes; how to choose a healthy slice of pizza

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Antibiotics, in Addition to Food, May Be a Lifesaver for Starving Children

More than 20 million children worldwide suffer from severe malnutrition, and annually, more than 1 million children die from it. A new study sheds light on how they can be helped. The study took place in the Republic of Malawi, in southeast Africa, where researchers discovered that serving food alone only went so far with these kids. Malnourished children are also prone to illness, reports The New York Times, and so giving them antibiotics in addition to nutritional treatment led to a vast improvement in their recovery and mortality rates. "By a week or two of treatment you see these kids gaining incredible amounts of weight," Indi Trehan, study author and clinical fellow at the Washington University in St. Louis Institute for Public Health, told The New York Times. The study of more than 2,500 children was published yesterday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

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  • Spooked Sleeping? Identifying Nightmares and Their Causes

    You wake up, panting, from a deep sleep. You went to work naked. You fell into a bottomless pit. You got swept into a tornado, and then fought off a wicked witch and flying monkeys in an unfruitful trek to Oz. If any of this sounds familiar, join the club. Research suggests that more than 85 percent of adults occasionally experience nightmares—at least once a month for 8 to 29 percent, and once a week for 2 to 6 percent. If you're someone who snoozes peacefully through the night, understand that nightmares are no ordinary dreams. They're "vivid, disturbing dreams, with an emotional connection that tends to wake us up," says Matthew Mingrone, an otolaryngologist and lead physician for EOS Sleep California centers.

    If your slumber resembles a bad horror movie, learning about your nightmares and why they happen may help you sleep better.

    Nightmares vs. Sleep Terrors. First, recognize that nightmares are not night terrors. The latter, also known as sleep terrors, happen earlier in sleep, during a non-rapid eye movement (REM) stage. Typically, you'd wake up in the first 90 minutes of sleep, perhaps panicked and yelling, with a much fuzzier memory of the dream than you'd have after a nightmare. Your heart rate may jump to 180 beats per minute during night terrors, says Tore Nielsen, director of the Dream and Nightmare Laboratory and a psychiatry professor at the University of Montreal. He adds that folks with night terrors can be destructive when they wake up—by fighting or jumping from windows—and yet, they often don't remember the episode later. [Read more: Spooked Sleeping? Identifying Nightmares and Their Causes]

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    • Pizza Anyone? How to Choose a Healthy Slice

      Why do so many of my patients avoid pizza if they're trying to lose weight and eat healthfully, asks U.S. News blogger Keri Gans. Pizza gets a bad rap. Instead of looking at pizza as a high-calorie, fat-loaded diet disaster, let's think of it as a nutrient opportunity—one that's rich in fiber, calcium, and protein. Of course, not every pizza is made to be nutritious, so to reap these benefits, choose your slice wisely:

      Crust. If it's an option, go for a whole-wheat, thin crust. At all costs, avoid crusts that are cheese-filled or deep-dish.

      Toppings. Any veggie is a good call. Try tomatoes, artichokes, mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, onions, garlic, and peppers. If you choose eggplant, make sure it's not breaded and fried. Do yourself a big favor and skip the pepperoni, meatballs and sausage, as these are often the culprits for extra fat and calories. If you really want meat on your pizza, ask for chicken.

      Cheese. Say no to extra cheese, and even ask for less of it, considering that cheese is another source of fat and calories. Or order your pizza without any cheese, and then sprinkle a tablespoon of Parmesan on top. If the idea of cheese-skimpy pizza seems blasphemous, order your pie with ricotta instead of mozzarella to halve your calories. [Read more: Pizza Anyone? How to Choose a Healthy Slice]