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Poor sanitation practices and a "casual" attitude toward the routines that prevent disease have made day-care centers "networks" for the transmission of intestinal diseases such as diarrhea, a South Carolina physician says.

Writing in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Stanley H. Schuman said several factors contribute to the problem. Among them, he noted, are the neglect of such rudimentary precautions as training day-care workers to handle food hygienically--by washing their hands, for example.

In addition, the children who spend time in day-care centers, he noted, arrive and depart in erratic patterns, which ensures "maximum mixing of infected and susceptible" children. Also, he wrote, states sometimes lack the funds to enforce the regulations that apply to day-care centers.

A new diagnostic tool developed by researchers at the University of Virginia Medical Center will help educators identify children who suffer from epilepsy or who are at risk for "subtle seizure disorders."

If left untreated, such disorders can interfere with children's ability to learn and have other psychological effects as well, according to Fritz E. Dreifuss, the neurologist who directs the center's Comprehensive Epilepsy Program.

The screening scale that the Virginia researchers developed consists of a 34-item questionnaire' that is sent home to parents. Parents respond to questions such as "Has your child ever fainted, blacked out, passed out, or had a falling-out spell? Does your child often daydream or seem to be in a daze? Has anyone in your family had seizures, fits, or convulsions?"

In a pilot study that involved 1,000 children, those parents who answered "yes" to more than five questions brought their children in to the medical center for further diagnostic tests.

In those tests, the researchers found five children with epilepsy, including two whose disorder had been undetected. They also found six whose condition merited further monitoring, and 12 whose medical histories were classified as "suspicious" and who are also being monitored.

Young people between the ages of 15 and 24 were the only group for whom death rates have not declined in the past several years, according to a recent report issued by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The report, Health, United States, 1982, showed that murder, suicide, and accidents were responsible for three out of four of the deaths in this age group. For white young people, accidents accounted for 40 percent of the deaths in 1979--the most recent year for which statistics are available. For young blacks, homicides were the leading cause of death, and accounted for 39 percent of the deaths.

The death rate for young men was three times that for young women, and the mortality rate among blacks was was 20-percent higher than that of whites.--sw

Vol. 02, Issue 20

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