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Young unmarried women were the major recipients of abortions in the U.S. during 1980, with teen-agers obtaining 30 percent of the abortions during that year, according to a recent study by Stanley K. Henshaw of the Alan Guttmacher Institute and Kevin O'Reilly of the federal government's Centers for Disease Control.

The rate of abortion for teen-agers increased 14 to 16 percent between 1977 and 1980, they report. In contrast, rates of abortion for older women--30 to 34 years of age--increased 9 percent.

However, women of all ages showed an increased trend toward obtaining abortions earlier in their pregancies. About 91 percent, they found, had abortions performed within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Teen-agers, one of the groups most likely to have complications in pregnancy, had one of the highest rates of pregnancy terminated by abortion--41 percent of those who became pregnant subsequently had abortions. This rate was exceeded only by that of women over the age of 40, whose babies are also more likely to have some genetic defects.

Compared with other Western industrialized countries, the U.S. has higher rates of abortion among younger women, the researchers note. "These are the groups toward whom efforts should be directed to increase the prevalence and effectiveness of contraceptive practice," the researchers write.

The study, "Characteristics of Abortion Patients in the United States, 1979 and 1980," was published in the January/February 1983 issue of Family Planning Perspectives.

Whooping-cough vaccine, criticized by some for its relatively rare negative side effects, appears to have beneficial side effects as well, according to a study by two University of Alabama researchers.

The researchers, Robert Stinson and Alvin Winters of the microbiology and biochemistry departments, respectively, conducted their study using laboratory mice. They found that after immunization with the vaccine, the mice were immune to several types of viral infections, including the adenovirus, which causes respiratory illnesses, and herpes simplex.

As yet, the researchers are uncertain why the vaccine confers protection against other viruses. They suggest that, pending further studies, the findings may be useful in controlling diseases in enclosed populations at high risk, such as residents of institutions.

Antihistamines and decongestants are frequently prescribed for mild ear infections or related ear disorders that lead to the accumulation of fluid in the middle ear. However, a new study suggests, this form of therapy is essentially without merit.

In a study published in the Feb. 10 New England Journal of Medicine, Charles D. Bluestone of the University of Pittsburgh reported that the use of these agents--most sold without prescriptions--was not an effective means of alleviating the fluid in the ear.--sw

Vol. 02, Issue 24

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