"The health of the people is really the foundation upon which all their happiness and their powers as a state depend," said Disraeli, the British statesman, more than a century ago.

As the new year begins, the U.S. can claim its superpower status in health. Never before has life expectancy climbed so high -- for most Americans -- or medical technology advanced so far.

But never have some health trends been so disturbing. 1990 was the year the murder rate broke records in major cities, the year that the increase in new AIDS cases among women soared nearly 30 percent.

It was the year researchers broke the traditional rules of procreation and some women discovered they couldbecome pregnant even after menopause. But 1990 was also the year that a 7 pound-6 ounce newborn girl wrapped in a paper towel was found abandoned on a street in Prince George's County the morning after Christmas.

It was the year death rates from heart disease continued to decline -- yet certain cancers -- of the brain and lung -- continued to rise. At the same time, spending on health care topped $650 billion -- but more than 30 million Americans have no medical insurance.

As a foundation for personal well-being or a gauge of national strength, health will continue to dominate the news in 1991. What follows are 10 major stories for the coming year.