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The researcher who reported in 1979 that lead in children's bodies--even in small amounts--can shave points off of I.Q.'s, misrepresented his work in several journal articles, federal investigators say.

Other scientists had accused Dr. Herbert L. Needleman, who is based at the University of Pittsburgh, of jiggering his results to overstate the risk posed by lead to children's health. (See Education Week, April 8, 1992.)

In a three-year investigation completed this year and announced earlier this month, the federal Office of Research Integrity found that, although the published accounts of his work contained some errors, Dr. Needleman was not guilty of scientific misconduct.

Dr. Needleman's well-publicized study, which first appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1979, heightened public concern about lead in the environment and resulted in stricter federal standards for children's exposure to the metal.

The O.R.I. said that Dr. Needleman misrepresented the details of how he conducted his research and that he published graphs of the report data that misplotted the study's results.

The O.R.I. ruled that Dr. Needleman should correct the misrepresentations in the journals that published his findings.

Young people who attend school are less likely to engage in several serious health-risk behaviors, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found.

The C.D.C. this month published a study comparing risk behaviors in a group of about 7,000 12- to 19-year-olds. Youths who were not enrolled in school were less likely to always wear seat belts when riding in cars and trucks, and more likely to ride in a vehicle driven by someone who was drunk, the C.D.C. researchers found.

Nearly one-third of the out-of-school adolescents reported smoking cigarettes on one or more days in the month preceding the study, compared with one-fifth of the enrolled students.

"Because efforts to measure health-risk behaviors among adolescents throughout the United States have not included those who do not attend school, the prevalences of those behaviors are probably underestimated for the total adolescent population,'' the report's authors said.

They suggested that health-education efforts in the schools, as well as outside-intervention initiatives, be stepped up to help adolescents change risky behavior patterns.--SARA SKLAROFF

Vol. 13, Issue 25

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