Health Column

September 11, 1991 2 min read
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Poorly ventilated schools can cause health problems among students, especially the estimated 3.9 million children who have asthma, the American Lung Association concludes from two new studies.

The studies, which were conducted by a team of environmental engineers, found poor air quality and air

  • ventilation systems in 23 of the 26 schools studied. Schools historically have been required by law to provide filtered outdoor air to the indoor classroom environment, the authors noted.

Schools with poor air quality also typically had elevated radon levels, the authors found. They noted that while some schools simply neglected their ventilation systems, others abandoned them altogether in order to save on heating bills.

The studies were presented at a meeting of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers in Washington last week.

There is not enough scientific evidence to conclude that a vaccine that simultaneously immunizes children against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus causes brain damage or acute neurological illnesses, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recently concluded.

In its recommendations for administering the combined D.P.T. vaccine, released last month, the C.D.C. said that many of the reactions reportedly associated with the vaccine may be indicative of underlying central- nervous system disorders.

The C.D.C. also revised its recommendations to state that in areas with a high incidence of pertussis, it may be appropriate to provide immunizations to children who have had high temperatures, long spells of crying, or short-term convulsions during previous administrations of the vaccine. Previously, the c.D.c. had said that children with these symptoms should get no more of this vaccine.

Earlier this summer, the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine found a causal relationship between the vaccine and anaphylaxis--a sudden, rare, and potentially deadly allergic reaction--and extended periods of crying more than 24 hours after the immunization.

Although 60 percent of adolescent males ages 15 to 19 have had intercourse, the majority have relatively low levels of sexual activity, a new study concludes.

The study, published in the July/August issue of Family Planning Perspectives, which is published by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, found that on average, teenage beys spend half the year without a sexual partner. Only 21 percent of those surveyed reported having simultaneous sexual relationships during any of the previous 12 months.--E.F.

A version of this article appeared in the September 11, 1991 edition of Education Week as Health Column


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