School Bus Injuries Underestimated

SURPRISING NUMBER OF SCHOOL BUS INJURIES More than 51,000 children were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal school bus-related injuries over a three-year period, according to a new study published today in Pediatrics. The children were treated between 2001 and 2003, yielding an average of about 17,000 injuries per year. Most of these injuries occurred in children between the ages of 10 and 14 years. Kids were hurt in non-fatal crashes, but also at other times, such as boarding the bus. Previous studies greatly underestimated the number of injuries, researchers from the Center for Innovation Pediatric Practice say, and they think the true number of injuries could be even higher because this study only counted children treated in emergency departments.

HOT AIR FOR HEAD LICE Just 30 minutes of application of hot air has the potential to eradicate head lice infestations, University of Utah researchers find in a new study published in Pediatrics. Scientists tested 169 children with head lice infestations with different applications of hot air. The researchers found that their new device, called the LouseBuster, was the most effective, killing 98 percent of eggs and 80 percent of hatched lice. The kids mostly remained lice-free, even when examined a week after treatment. The device operates at a temperature slightly cooler than a standard blow dryer, and delivers twice the volume of air. Researchers say the lice are unlikely to evolve resistance to this hot-air treatment compared to other chemical methods currently being used. In the future, they hope that their LouseBuster will become an institutionally-based machine, used by health care providers in hospitals and schools.

BELLY FAT IN KIDS ON THE RISE Abdominal obesity increased more than 65 percent among boys and almost 70 percent among girls between 1988 and 2004, according to data from a large national study published in the current issue of Pediatrics. University of Rochester researchers say that abdominal fat is a better predictor of future heart disease and diabetes than the typical body mass index (BMI) measurement. The good news, they say, is that kids and teens can reverse the process with better diet and exercise.

STAT is a brief look at the latest medical research and is compiled by Joanna Schaffhausen, who holds a doctorate in behavioral neuroscience. She works in the ABC News Medical Unit, evaluating medical studies, abstracts and news releases.