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ONSET OF MENSTRUATION SHOULD SIGNAL FITNESS AWARENESS BY TEEN-AGE GIRLS

 ONSET OF MENSTRUATION SHOULD SIGNAL FITNESS AWARENESS
 BY TEEN-AGE GIRLS
 WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Public Health Service says the onset of menstruation is the ideal time for a young woman to take stock of her fitness -- and to prepare to be a physically fit woman and mother.
 James Mason, M.D., head of the Public Health Service, says certain fitness and health habits need to be established before or during a woman's teen-age years to have full impact. He points out that if practiced over many years, such habits provide far greater protection against cancer, heart disease, stroke, AIDS, toxic shock syndrome and osteoporosis -- the disabling and deforming condition sometimes called "dowager's hump."
 Mason recommends that young women at the beginning of menstruation:
 1. Maintain a balanced diet. According to a new Public Health Service recommendation, it's particularly important for women of childbearing age to have sufficient amounts (0.4 milligrams) of folic acid, a B vitamin, daily to reduce the risk of disabling or deadly neural tube birth defects.
 Foods rich in folic acid include leafy dark green vegetables, citrus fruits, yeast, bread, beans and fortified breakfast cereals. These and/or a standard daily vitamin supplement will suffice. Avoid overdosing on vitamins. Folic acid and some other vitamins may be harmful in excess.
 2. Include plenty of calcium-rich products such as skim or whole milk in the diet and get regular weight-bearing exercise such as running, walking and biking to help ward off osteoporosis.
 3. Understand the dangers of tobacco, alcohol and drugs. Avoiding tobacco may be the best step toward maintaining a fit heart and lungs. Don't get pressured into drinking too much alcohol or doing drugs. If you think you have a problem with either, discuss it -- immediately -- with a knowledgeable and trusted adult.
 4. Know the facts about AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, including the facts about condom use. Casual sex isn't smart. The pleasures of sex are best postponed until you and your partner are ready for the responsibilities of marriage and children.
 5. Take measures against toxic shock syndrome. Young women 15 to 19 years are the most vulnerable to this rare but serious, occasionally fatal, bacterial disease that most often strikes tampon users under 30.
 If you wear a tampon, remove it and get immediate medical help if you have flu-like symptoms -- sudden high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness or fainting while standing up -- during or just after menstruation. These symptoms can be mild at first. Also, watch for a sunburn-like rash that may be quite small.
 Using sanitary pads or alternating them with tampons greatly reduces the risk of toxic shock syndrome, but if you do decide to use tampons exclusively, use products with the lowest absorbency that meets your needs. The Food and Drug Administration, a Public Health Service agency, requires manufacturers to test absorbency and to list absorbency ranges on product labels.
 Be certain to follow manufacturer's instructions, store tampons in a clean, dry place and to wash your hands with soap and water before and after inserting or removing a tampon.
 -0- 9/29/92
 /CONTACT: Bonnie Aikman of the Public Health Service Press Office, 202-690-6867, or fax 202-690-6608/ CO: U.S. Public Health Service ST: District of Columbia IN: HEA SU:


SM -- NYFFNS1 -- 4168 09/29/92 06:46 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 29, 1992
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