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Salt-Water Pools Good for the Health

Australian researchers say a swimming pool could improve the health of children living in remote areas of the world.//

The researchers believe these findings hold important implications for public health in Aboriginal communities, where infections such as those measured in their study are a leading cause of kidney disease, hearing loss, and rheumatic fever.

Investigators studied children under age 17 in two Aboriginal communities before and after the government built salt-water swimming pools for public use. Before the opening of the pools, skin and ear infections were a common problem in the children. After the pools opened, the infections dropped markedly. Swimming in salt water, report the researchers, acts as the equivalent of a nasal and ear washout and also cleanses the skin, helping to minimize the likelihood of infections.

The study involved about 60 children in each community, who were assessed for ear and skin infections before the pools opened. Researchers found 62 percent and 70 percent, respectively, suffered from skin infections and 32 percent in both communities had suffered a perforation of the eardrum due to ear infections. Follow-ups with some of the children indicated a significant decline in both conditions 18 months after the pools opened.

At the final follow up, only 18 percent of the children in the first community and 20 percent in the second community had skin infections. Figures for perforations of the eardrum fell to 13 percent and 18 percent, respectively.

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