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The American Health Foundation has issued a set of statistics that offer a pessimistic picture of the future health of the nation's children.

The foundation, an independent research institute for preventive medicine, reported that as many as 40 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 14 have developed one of several risk factors for such health problems as heart disease, cancer, and stroke.

Children were considered at risk if they were overweight, had high cholesterol levels, did not exercise enough, or had used alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes.

The ahf wants the trend toward poor health habits among the young curbed. Its new chairman, Russell E. Hogg, has announced that the ahf intends to expand a program it initiated 10 years ago to promote "wellness" in children. Called the "Know Your Body" program, it is designed to teach children to take responsibility for their own health.

The program enlists corporations to sponsor health-education projects in schools of their choosing. Currently, there are 25 schools nationwide involved in the program, but Mr. Hogg has said that he would like that number increased dramatically.

For more information about the program, write to Cameron Barry, American Health Foundation, Peter Martin Associates, 770 Lexington Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10021.

A drug that could reduce the frequency and severity of herpes symptoms--such as those suffered by the schoolchildren who recently have been thrust into the spotlight because of their affliction--has been approved by the government.

But a spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration said that more research needs to be done before the the capsule form of the drug, acyclovir, can be recommended for children. The substance is already marketed in a less effective ointment form.

Michael E. Shaffer, the spokesman, said the drug appears to cause few side affects in adults, but its "safety and effectiveness have not be established in children."

The use of aspirin to treat children for flu and chicken pox appears to have dropped sharply since 1981, when four states released the results of studies that found a possible link between the use of children's aspirin to treat these ailments and Reye's syndrome.

A rare childhood disease whose cause remains unknown, Reye's syndrome is fatal in more than a quarter of all cases diagnosed and has produced brain damage in many of the survivors. Its early symptoms are lethargy and vomiting.

According to William Grigg, spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration, when those state studies were released four years ago, about 75 percent of children suffering from flu or chicken pox were given aspirin. But by 1984, only 40 percent of the children suffering from those ailments were given aspirin.

Aspirin manufacturers have agreed to publicize the findings on container labels and poster advertisements.--br

Vol. 04, Issue 24

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