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Motor-vehicle collisions are a major cause of death and injury among young people: In 1980, nearly one million children were injured in such accidents. But according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, state laws enacted in recent years appear to be reducing the number of injuries and deaths.

Twenty-one states have enacted laws that require "child restraints"--seat belts and federally approved car seats--or public-education programs on auto safety. The laws were passed, according to the cdc, in response to statistics that indicated that restrained children are 50-to-70 percent less likely to be killed or injured in an auto accident than are unrestrained children.

Other states--Michigan, for example--raised the legal drinking age to 21. The legislatures acted in response to statistics that showed that lowering the legal age to 18 had been followed by an increase in the number of motor-vehicle fatalities among teen-agers.

Motorcycle helmets for teen-age riders have also proved effective as a means of reducing injuries, but since 1976, when the federal law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets was repealed, the number of deaths from motorcycle accidents has increased by 49 percent. Over 30 percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents occur among people under the age of 20, according to the cdc

Supplying food to the hungry remains one of the most urgent and difficult problems facing the world, say the organizers of World Food Day, but many American children know only that their own three meals a day are likely to appear on time. The planners suggest that on Oct. 16, the date of the celebration, teachers incorporate material about food and nutrition into their lessons.

First held last year, World Food Day is sponsored by several hundred organizations. Displays, reports, special films, and other materials can be used to increase children's awareness of and interest in food and nutrition. For a list of suggestions, write to National Committee for World Food Day, 1776 F St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20437.

Childhood is not as long as it once was, but for some children, it ends early because of a chemical disorder that accelerates sexual development and causes them to show signs of puberty when very young. This occurs because their bodies do not release a substance called "luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone" at the normal rates.

Now, a chemical much like that hormone has been shown to be effective in slowing or reversing abnormally early development. Between 10,000 and 50,000 children in the U.S. suffer from the the disorder.

In tests conducted by scientists at the National Institute of Child and Human Development, 80 children receive daily injections of the chemical. So far, the treatment has slowed or reversed the disorder in more than 70 of the children. A study describing the research was reported in last week's Journal of the American Medical Association.

--Susan Walton

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