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Infant and preschool girls who consistently favor one hand over the other are likely to be more intellectually precocious than girls who do not show early signs of "handedness," two psychologists at California State University have found. But the same relationship between intellectual development and hand preference apparently does not exist for very young boys.

Allen W. Gottfried and Kay Bathhurst began testing 130 middle-class children when the children were one year old. At six-month intervals, the researchers administered a series of tests, including a standardized test of intelligence, and recorded which hand the children used to draw the response.

About half the children of each sex showed a preference for one hand or the other. But those girls who favored one hand consistently scored higher on tests of cognitive, verbal, and perceptual performance. The same did not hold true for boys. "Why this relation between consistency in hand preference and intellectual skills holds for females and not males is not known," the researchers write. The study was published in the Sept. 9 issue of Science.

Funded by a $10,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Association of School Nurses has established a long-range planning council to study the financing of school nursing services. The council, which met for the first time this summer, will look at the problems that many systems confront as tight budgets force school officials to cut some nursing services, and will attempt to develop model programs.

Responding to the rising rate of violent deaths among people between the ages of 15 and 24, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department has established two "priority objectives": to lower the suicide rate and to decrease the number of young, black males who are homicide victims.

Between 1970 and 1978, the suicide rate increased 41 percent in the 15-to-24 age group, according to federal statistics. Virtually the entire increase--88 percent--is due to the increase in suicides among young white males, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The favored method of suicide also changed during the eight-year period, the cdc reports. The proportion committed with guns or explosives increased for both males and females, while the number committed with drugs or poison declined.

Until 1978, the Western states had consistently higher suicide rates than other regions, but by 1978, the rates elsewhere had risen to match them.

Young black men continue to have the highest rate of deaths by homicide of any segment of the population, although the rate has declined by about 25 percent since 1970. Homicide rates for this group are highest in the North Central states and lowest in the Western states. Seventy-five percent of the homicides are committed with guns; 54 percent of the victims were killed by people they knew.--sw

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