In Brief

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READING GAP The results of the recent biennial National Assessments of Educational Progress show that the average reading-test score of fourth-graders was the same as in 1992, but there is a growing achievement gap. While students in the top 10% increased their average scores from 261 to 264, the kids in the bottom 10% dropped from 170 to 163. The kids with lower scores also reported that they spent less time discussing their schoolwork with parents.

BREAST-FEEDING BONUS A study from the London Institute of Child Health has found that premature babies who were fed breast milk were not only healthier infants but later as teens also had lower blood pressure than teens who were formula-fed preemies. Researchers working at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital found that from the ages of 13 to 16 the blood pressure of breast-fed subjects in the study was on average 3 points lower than that of those who had been fed formula. It is not certain whether the same is true for nonpreemies.

WAITING TO CONCEIVE About 25% of all babies in the U.S. are born by caesarean delivery,which means that many women then have to decide whether to have a repeat C-section or attempt a vaginal delivery for their next pregnancy. New research reported in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology suggests that spacing pregnancies at least 18 months apart may increase the chance of a successful vaginal delivery for a second baby.