New Bird Flu Vaccine Needed

The federal government is going to make a second human vaccine against the Asian bird flu virus because the virus has changed genetically from the strain used for the first vaccine.

The government has bought enough vaccine to protect 4 million Americans in case the Asian virus acquires the ability to spread among people. But that vaccine is based on a two-year-old strain from Vietnam. The virus has evolved since then.

Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health says the new vaccine will be based on a virus that has recently infected people in Indonesia.

"It's really an effort to keep up with the evolution of the virus," said Fauci.

It's not clear whether the Vietnamese virus, the Indonesian virus — or some future strain — would be used in a vaccine if the bird virus touches off a pandemic. — Richard Knox

Early Education Helps Preemies

A study of children born premature shows that those who had special schooling as infants and toddlers had higher math and reading scores at age 18.

The project is the first to examine of early education for children at risk because they were born premature and with low birth weights. Previous studies showed that such extra attention makes a difference for healthy children in low-income families.

Among 1,000 preemies, study authors saw lasting benefits for most of those who had three years of early attention to develop cognitive skills, social skills and coordination.

"It makes a much stronger argument than previous studies have, that these kinds of services should be extended to a much broader population than previously considered," said Harvard researcher Marie McCormick, who led the study. "It's not just poor kids and it's not just kids with cerebral palsy."

The results appear in the journal Pediatrics. — Richard Knox

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