Kids' Cavities Linked to Secondhand Smoke

Children who inhale secondhand cigarette smoke have a higher risk of getting cavities in their deciduous, or primary, teeth, researchers said yesterday.

"Exposure to tobacco smoke nearly doubles a child's risk of having cavities," said study author and pediatrician Andrew Aligne, who led researchers from the University of Rochester at New York and the Center for Child Health Research.

The researchers, writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, studied 3,500 children ages 4 to 11 and concluded that one-quarter of them would not have developed cavities in their primary teeth if they had not inhaled environmental smoke.

Tooth decay in children is caused not by sweets, but by a bacterium that produces a lactic acid. Saliva can counteract the lactic acid, but passive smoking also causes throat inflammation, which leads to mouth breathing, which dries out the mouth.

FDA Warns of Counterfeit Anti-Anemia Drug

A counterfeit version of the anti-anemia drug Procrit poses a serious danger to patients, the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday, and hospitals and pharmacies may have unknowingly bought the fake drug.

The fake Procrit is useless and contaminated with bacteria, the FDA said. The agency has identified as counterfeit three batches with lot numbers P007645, expiration 10/2004; P004677, expiration 02/2004; and P004839, expiration 02/2004.

The drug's manufacturer, Ortho Biotech, posted pictures of the real and fake version on its Web site: Anyone who has vials of counterfeit Procrit is asked to call the FDA at 1-800-835-4709 or Ortho Biotech at 1-800-325-7504.

Study: Treatment Better at Paring Drug Crime

Prosecutors can reduce drug crime more effectively by sending nonviolent drug offenders to a strict treatment program instead of prison, according to sponsors of a study released yesterday.

The study, by Columbia University, compared 280 participants in Brooklyn's Drug Treatment Alternative-to-Prison with 130 drug offenders who served prison terms. Those in the treatment program were 67 percent less likely to return to prison, the study found, and graduates were 3 1/2 times more likely to have a job after they left the program than before they went in.

The 15- to 24-month program includes treatment, counseling and job training. .

It costs about $33,000 to send an offender through the treatment program and about $64,000 to send an offender to prison for the same period, the study said.

-- From News Services