Adjusting to Grandmotherhood At an Early Age

Women who become grandmothers in their twenties and thirties are often unhappy in the role and feel angry at their daughters who, like themselves, became pregnant at an early age.

In a survey of 120 low- and middle-income families, human development researcher Linda M. Burton found that these young grandmothers often were not ready for the role. "I didn't hear, 'I'm angry because my teen-age daughter is pregnant,' " Burton said. "Instead I heard, 'She made me a grandmother when I'm supposed to be doing young-adult things. How dare she?' "

These young grandmothers are often called upon to care for the infant because the mother, only a teen-ager, isn't prepared to.

These were some of the comments from her survey: "I'm 39, footloose and fancy-free. I love my grandbaby, but I don't have time for knitting booties and babysitting." "None of my friends are grandmothers," a 27-year-old said. "As a matter of fact, most of them right now are having babies for the first time." "I am too young to be a grandmother," another 27-year-old told her daughter. "You made this baby, you take care of it."

Older grandmothers -- those in their forties and fifties -- were ready for the role and had friends who also were grandparents. Burton said her study supports the theory that people judge their roles "according to social time clocks." Teen Years Most Dangerous For Driving, Study Finds

If you think 18-year-olds are the most dangerous drivers, you're right.

"More deaths per licensed driver are associated with the automobile crashes of 18- year-old drivers than for any other year of age," reports the journal Pediatrics. Next, in order, came 16-, 17- and 19-year-old drivers.

Three pediatricians writing in the journal called on their colleagues to intervene when they think their patients are driving dangerously. As "counselors to youth and families," write Dr. Richard C. Brown and his colleagues, pediatricians can spot high-risk teens -- such as those who drink or are depressed -- and get them into therapy.

Telling them to wear seat belts doesn't work, they write, because most people ignore that advice, but new laws may change that.

Getting teens to drive more safely also might save their friends. By one estimate, 72 percent of the passengers killed in cars driven by teen-agers are also teen-agers. Seizures Switch Control In Split Personality

The rare mental phenomenon of dual personality has long been a psychiatric mystery, and two cases reminiscent of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story give scientists more to think about.

In two people, both treated at the University of California at Los Angeles, an epileptic seizure occurred each time the personality was about to switch from the friendly one to the unfriendly one.

"One personality was irritable and hostile, the other placid," Dr. D. Frank Benson writes in the current Archives of Neurology. "In each case, a major seizure preceded the shift from the former to the latter."

Neither personality was aware that the other existed.

"The underlying cause of this phenomenon is unknown," Benson writes. But he suspects the seizure may trigger a reaction in the brain's limbic system, which is believed to play a role in behavior. As is common in medical journals, the article says more research is needed. Physician Suggests Ban On Televised Boxing

Despite calls from the American Medical Association to ban boxing, the sport is alive and well in the United States. So a California physician has proposed another means of attack: take it off of television.

"TV broadcasts of boxing events are directly contributing to a clear health hazard and should be prohibited," Dr. Herschel S. Zackheim writes in a letter to The Western Journal of Medicine.

He cites the banning of cigarette commercials as a precedent. "The surgeon general has declared that smoking is harmful to health," Zackheim points out.

Noting that television is "the lifeblood of boxing," he writes, a declaration that it is a national health threat could take it off the air and cut sharply into its popularity.

Until now, the AMA's opposition to boxing has centered on the brain damage it can cause in people who participate. Zackheim goes a step further and says televised boxing matches, which he calls "displays of 'legitimate' extreme violence," may contribute to violence among young people. On the Pulse

There are 158 children who are alive today because their parents put them in auto safety seats in 1984. That estimate is from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. All 50 states now require use of the seats . . . McDonald's restaurants in New York will stop frying Chicken McNuggets and fish filets in beef fat and will use vegetable oil instead, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The voluntary decision followed an agreement with the New York attorney general to make ingredient information available to customers . . . From the You Just Can't Win department comes this headline announcing a University of California at San Francisco study: "Longer Life Brings More Disease and Disability, USCF Study Finds." This, the university's experts say, is one of the "failures of success" . . .