Teen Pregnancy Rates Hit Historic Lows, CDC Finds

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Teen pregnancy rates continue to drop throughout the U.S., and have reached a new historic low, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There were 24.2 live births per 1,000 teens between the ages of 15 to 19 in 2014, according to the report in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. This represents a 61 percent decrease from 1991.

"The United States has made remarkable progress in reducing both teen pregnancy and racial and ethnic differences, but the reality is, too many American teens are still having babies," CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement Thursday. "By better understanding the many factors that contribute to teen pregnancy we can better design, implement, evaluate, and improve prevention interventions and further reduce disparities."

From 2006 to 2014, the teen birth rate declined 41 percent overall. The decrease was the largest among Hispanics, with a 51 percent drop (38 live births per 1,000 teens in 2014), followed by a 44 percent drop among African Americans (34.9 live births per 1,000 teens in 2014), and a 35 percent drop among whites (17.3 live births per 1,000 teens in 2014.)

While the lower teen pregnancy rates were noted nationwide, the researchers highlighted states where teen pregnancy remained a persistent problem. In Nebraska, rates among African Americans (42.6 per 1,000) and Hispanics (53.9 per 1,000) far exceeded national rates. In Arkansas, the teen birth rate remained far above the national average at 41.5 per 1,000.

"These data underscore that the solution to our nation's teen pregnancy problem is not going to be a one-size-fits-all -- teen birth rates vary greatly across state lines and even within states," Lisa Romero, a health scientist in CDC's Division of Reproductive Health and lead author of the analysis, said in a statement.

"Together, we can work to implement proven prevention programs that take into account unique, local needs," Romero said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Grown Preemie Triplets Donate PJ's to NICU Where They Once Stayed

Ty Swarts(SHAWNEE, Kan.) -- A set of triplets who were born premature paid it forward last week after donating pajamas to the babies of the NICU in the hospital where they were born 10 years ago.

"I couldn't be more proud," dad Ty Swarts of Shawnee, Kansas, told ABC News. "I'm really happy to see [them] giving back -- especially to young kids. It's just a really big learning lesson...."

In lieu of birthday gifts, Luke, Taya and Brady Swarts, former Overland Park Regional Medical Center NICU grads in Overland, Kansas, completed what they call "Project Preemie" by donating more than 205 pairs of pajamas to the NICU.

The siblings, born April 16, 2006, got the idea to give back to the tiny residents of the NICU after seeing a photo of themselves in pajamas the nurses gave them while they were in the hospital.

"They were born at 32-and-a-half weeks," mom Jill told ABC News. "We were fortunate enough to only have them stay for three weeks. They all came home on the same day, which is very unusual for multiples."

She added: "The NICU put them in PJs so we thought, 'Let's go off that, pay it forward and put more PJs in the NICU for little guys and little girls.'"

Jill said Luke, Taya and Brady began "Project Preemie" by collecting preemie pajamas from friends and family.

They also had a 10th birthday swim party where their classmates brought pajamas instead of presents.

On April 22, the trio brought the 205 pairs of PJs to the hospital, where they handed them out to moms of preemies.

"When we got there, we were able to meet with the two original doctors from when we were there," Jill said. "They asked if we'd like to meet with one of the moms and that moment was the most special of all. She explained her baby that was in the NICU, and Brady, Taya and Luke picked out their favorite pajamas. She received three pairs -- one from each of them."

Taya, 10, said her favorite part about the preemie project was presenting the pajamas to the mothers at the hospital.

"It showed the moms the same type of respect that we got when we were little," she said.

Dr. Kathleen Weatherstone, medical director of the Overland Park Regional Medical Center NICU, was one of the staff members who cared for the triplets when they were born.

Weatherstone was also present when the siblings carried out their kind act.

“This opportunity with the Swarts triplets was especially meaningful because we not only celebrated their 10th birthdays, but were also the recipient of their #PreemiePJProject," Weatherstone released in a statement to ABC News. "The physicians, nurses and entire NICU team are humbled to part of something so special and thank the youngsters for their creative generosity. This donation accentuates the spirit of family that defines our NICU."

In the end, the kids sent out handwritten letters to all who donated to their cause.

"I would like to do something like this again," Luke told ABC News.

Brady and Taya agreed.

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Study: Spike in Cost of Certain Oral Cancer Drugs Squeezes Patients

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As rising drug costs have become a topic of intense debate, a new review finds a significant increase for some cancer drugs.

The cost of certain oral medications for cancer treatment have increased multiple-fold since 2000, according to a study published Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The average cost for certain orally administered treatments have increased dramatically, even after prices were adjusted for inflation, according to a researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who examined data from a prescription drug database. Additionally, newer drugs cost far more than drugs already on the market, the study found.

These drugs fight cancer in a variety of ways, and are generally less stressful on the patient compared to traditional chemotherapy treatments.

These kinds of medications have become more popular since 2000, with 32 therapies introduced between 2000 to 2014. Costs for these kinds of treatment rose from an average of $1,869 a month for those launched in 2000 to $11,325 a month for the drugs launched in 2014. When she compared products launched from 2000 to 2010 to those launched after 2010, the researcher found a 63 percent increase in the mean monthly spending during the first year the product was on the market. Products launched between 2000 to 2010 cost had a mean monthly spending of $5,529 for the first year they were on the market compared to the products launched after 2010, which had a mean monthly spending of $9,013.

"The major trend here is that these products are just getting more expensive over time," study author Stacie Dusetzina, of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and an assistant professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, said in a statement Thursday.

Dusetzina pointed out there has been a push to create these anti-cancer drugs for patients, but that the increasing prices may make it difficult or nearly impossible for a patient to access these new therapies.

"Patients are increasingly taking on the burden of paying for these high-cost specialty drugs as plans move toward use of higher deductibles and co-insurance -- where a patient will pay a percentage of the drug cost rather than a flat copay," Dusetzina said.

She did not speculate about why these drugs have risen in cost in recent years.

Shawn Osborne, vice president of Pharmacy and Supply Chain Services at University Hospitals of Cleveland, said these kinds of oral cancer therapies have gotten more attention recently since they have shown better outcomes for patients.

"It’s a more targeted therapy that’s typically more pleasant," than infusion chemotherapy, he said.

Because some of these drugs have shown better outcomes for patients, manufacturers are charging more, he said. Additionally, he pointed out that because the drugs are new, getting access to the drugs can be more expensive.

Many of these drugs are newer and manufacturers require that patients be strictly monitored if they are taking the drugs so that more data can be collected, Osborne said, noting that this monitoring can require expensive infrastructure.

Osborne said he suspects the drug prices will at some point stop increasing at the same high rate.

"I do think that with these drugs there's a balance out there that will be struck at some point," he said.

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Teen's 'Promposes' to Friend With Down Syndrome at Coffee Shop

iStock/Thinkstock(WILMINGTON, N.C.) -- A teen's touching "promposal" to her friend with Down syndrome is going viral on Facebook after it was captured on video.

Lillie Wright, 17, surprised her friend and co-worker Trevor Jefferson, 21, at Beau's Coffee in Wilmington, North Carolina, on April 25 by asking him to prom with a cute coffee-themed poem written on a sign.

"I like coffee, I like tea. Would you go to prom with me?" Lillie's sign reads.

In the video, Trevor reads the poem aloud and responds with an enthusiastic “Yes.” The two share a hug while surrounded by friends and family.

Lillie’s mother, Amy Wright, owner of Beau’s Coffee, filmed the whole thing.

"Lillie’s decision to ask Trevor was completely natural, she has two siblings with Down syndrome," Wright said. "Lillie values Trevor as a person and a friend.... Everyone at Beau’s Coffee loves Trevor and was happy to share in the moment."

Since the video was posted, the promposal has garnered more than 400,000 views on Facebook.

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Teen Leukemia Survivor to Announce Denver Broncos NFL Draft Pick

Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images(DENVER) -- A 16-year-old Denver Broncos fan who survived a bone marrow transplant to treat a rare form of cancer will get a one-of-a-kind opportunity Thursday night at the 2016 NFL Draft.

Daniel Hailpern, of Denver, Colorado, will stand next to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in Chicago to announce the pick for the reigning Super Bowl champion Broncos thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“I’m not nervous at all,” Hailpern, a high school sophomore, told ABC News. “I’m very excited, though.”

Hailpern’s lack of nerves over his big moment in front of future NFL superstars is because the teenager is already a broadcasting pro. During his nine months of treatment at Children's Hospital Colorado, Hailpern became a local celebrity by hosting a football-centered sports talk show from the hospital’s broadcast studio.

“Football was the driving force to keep me going because every week that I was able to keep going and be healthy would be another week to watch football,” Hailpern said of his recovery from acute promyelocytic leukemia. "I really got to love the Broncos while I was in the hospital."

Hailpern, who underwent chemotherapy in addition to the bone marrow transplant, created a "Frozen" parody viral video about the Broncos in 2014 that led to him being named the hospital’s ambassador to the team. He got to watch the Broncos win the Super Bowl in person this year and says he watches every NFL game each season.

What Hailpern, who wants to be a sports broadcaster when he grows up, is really excited about, though, is Thursday night's draft. When the Make-A-Wish Foundation came to him, he immediately said he wanted his wish to be to attend.

“I think it’s the most important day of the football year,” he said. “I know a lot of people don't think it’s exciting to go and watch names being drawn for four hours straight with 10-minute breaks in between, but I do.”

“He once said to me, ‘Football has been my best medicine,’” Nadine said. “To see him go from the lowest of lows to this, it's incredible."

Even though Hailpern is now back in school full-time and no longer at the hospital for frequent doctor appointments, he is continuing with his weekly show that is broadcast throughout the hospital.

"His show became his priority over the appointments and he still kept doing the show beyond his appointments," Nadine said. "It was such an important part of his recovery and his therapy. It was his total motivation for recovery."

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Opioid-Antidote Drug Will Now Be Available to US High Schools for Free

WABC-TV(NEW YORK) -- As the opioid epidemic continues to grow nationally, the company that makes a medication to block the effects of an opioid overdose said it will give a free carton of the antidote to any U.S. high school.

Adapt Pharma, maker of the Narcan nasal spray, announced the move on Thursday.

The medication consists of a drug called naloxone, which comes as a nasal spray or injection. It can quickly reverse the dangerous effects of an opioid overdose by binding to important receptors in a person's central nervous system, thus blocking the opioid from depressing the nervous system.

Mike Kelly, president of U.S. Operations at Adapt Pharma, called the decision to give high schools access to the medication a "key milestone."

"This device will equip those in our communities -- families, friends, caregivers and school nurses -- with a tool they can rely on without need for medical training or expertise," Kelly said in a statement.

Opioid addiction has driven an increase in accidental deaths in the U.S. Nearly 19,000 people who took prescription painkillers died in 2014 and another 10,574 individuals died in relation to a heroin overdose, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Association of School Nurses adopted a position last year that school nurses should "review local and state policy on how to access naloxone and implement its use as part of their school emergency response protocol."

"Harm reduction approaches to OPR (opioid pain reliever) overdose include expanding access to naloxone, an opioid overdose antidote, which can prevent overdose deaths by reversing life-threatening respiratory depression," the association said in a statement. "When administered quickly and effectively, naloxone has the potential to immediately restore breathing to a victim experiencing an opioid overdose."

The group pointed out that nurses are the first responders during a school emergency and should be ready for drug overdoses.

"Naloxone saves lives and can be the first step toward OPR abuse recovery," association officials said.

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Harvard Mumps Outbreak Jumps to 41

iStock/Thinkstock(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) -- At least 41 people at Harvard University have been diagnosed with the mumps, according to university officials. The news comes as a second outbreak has been reported at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut where at least eight have been diagnosed with the mumps.

At Harvard, 11 people have been put into isolation in an effort to stop the virus from spreading through campus, according to school officials.

"Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) has been actively working with groups from across the university to keep the Harvard community informed about best practices for preventing the spread of mumps," Dr. Paul Barria, director of HUHS, said in a statement Wednesday. The school is working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Cambridge Public Health Department.

At least 40 of the people sickened at Harvard were vaccinated. The source of the outbreak, which was first reported on Feb. 29, remains unknown.

A second outbreak was reported Wednesday by Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, where eight students have reportedly been infected with the virus. Another 17 possible cases are still being investigated. All students have fully recovered.

College students are particularly at risk for contracting the virus, health officials told ABC News. The mumps is spread through the saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although most people are vaccinated against mumps at a young age through the MMR vaccine, the vaccination does not provide full protection. Two doses of the vaccine are approximately 88 percent effective at preventing mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective, according to the CDC.

"This is really happening in congregate settings where people are in dormitories," Susan Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the Cambridge Public Health Department, told ABC News Wednesday. "College campuses are the perfect storm, because students are sharing all kind so things, they're in close contact and going to parties."

Symptoms of the virus include fever, tiredness, muscle aches and swollen glands. In rare cases, severe complications including meningitis or inflammation of the ovaries or testicles can occur.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, said colleges and universities have been at the center of many mumps outbreak in recent years.

"Universities are a wonderful receptor site for young adults incubating mumps," he noted.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Your Body: Stress Management May Reduce Heart Disease Risk

iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

We've all heard that stress contributes to heart disease, but can stress management really reduce the risk? New data from Duke University suggests it might.

Researchers studied 151 patients who were referred for cardiac rehabilitation. All of the patients underwent standard cardiac rehab but half of them were also given stress management training, which consisted of time management, relaxation techniques and visual imagery. They also participated in group support and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Patients were followed up with in five years, and researchers found that the group that had stress management training had a lower rate of death and heart attack.

My prescription: Be aggressive about reducing stress -- try medication, exercise and even talk therapy.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Spanking May Be Linked to Lifelong Social, Mental Health Problems in Kids, New Report Suggests

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Being spanked as a child appears to be linked to a host of long-term behavioral and mental health issues, according to a new review of evidence published this week.

But the report, which falls short of confirming a causal relationship, may not end the ongoing debate over this controversial form of punishment.

The report, published in the April edition of the Journal of Family Psychology, looked at data from 75 studies — a total of 50 years of data from more than 160,000 children. The researchers analyzed the relationship between childhood spanking and 17 outcomes including aggression, antisocial behavior and other mental health problems.

The research — featuring the findings from experts from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan -- found that 13 out of these 17 outcomes were significantly associated with spanking.

The authors point out, however, that the data cannot conclusively say whether spanking as punishment causes these problems, or vice-versa. For example, they note, children with behavior problems tend to elicit more spankings from their parents in general. Additionally, Besser noted previous research on spanking and outcomes in children has resulted in mixed conclusions.

Still, many may view this latest report as further evidence against the argument that spanking actually "works" as a form of punishment – and that it may also be linked to long-term damage that parents might not be aware of.

ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser, a pediatrician, discussed the report's findings today on "Good Morning America."

"There have been hundreds of studies done but one of the concerns is that a lot of the studies included more severe forms of physical punishment like hitting with an object," Besser said. "So here they looked at 75 studies where it was just spanking, so hitting on the bottom with an open hand. What they found was there was no long-term benefits from that and some potential long-term harm."

Besser added, "These can’t prove it because you’re not randomly assigning kids to be spanked or not but when they looked at kids with various outcomes, these children were more likely to have been spanked. It’s children with aggressive behavior, children with low self-esteem, poor parent-child relationships and even some mental illness, like depression, more common in people who have been spanked."

Besser advised parents to focus on shaping their child's behavior.

"What I say first is catch your child being good," he said. "Praise works so much better. If you can catch them being good and reinforce that, that’s very effective."

When kids' behavior needs to be "shaped," Besser recommended using age-appropriate techniques.

"Time outs are great for kids who are two to five," he said. "Older kids, removing some of their privileges and then modeling good behavior."

"When you spank when you’re angry, you’re teaching your kids when they’re out of control they should use violence and it doesn’t work," Besser explained. "Often, it’s the parent who needs the timeout."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Adult Stem Cell Therapy Offers Hope for Those with Rare Genetic Diseases

Courtesy of Julie Burtwistle(SIOUX FALLS, S.D.) — Olivia Burtwistle grew as a typically curious and energetic child until soon after her fourth birthday, when her parents began to notice changes, including a “rapid decline” in Olivia’s vision.

The Burtwistles, Brad and Julie, met with doctors around the country searching for answers for Olivia. At age 7, their daughter was diagnosed with juvenile Batten disease, a rare genetic illness that affects children and destroys brain cells, causing neurological disorders like blindness, seizures, dementia and ultimately premature death.

“Think about your child if you have a normal, vivacious, you know, outgoing 7-year-old daughter who suddenly goes blind and then imagine that's just the beginning,” Julie Burtwistle told Robin Roberts in an interview that aired Thursday on Good Morning America.

Olivia, who is now 12, and her family, who live in Colorado, see a glimmer of hope for a cure in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, home to one of the country’s leading medical systems, Sanford Health.

The system’s castle-themed children’s hospital draws people from all over the country and its research center conducts cutting-edge research.

Dr. David Pearce, president of research at Sanford Health, is on the front lines of the research now underway there into adult stem cell therapy.

“What we're working on here is cures for rare diseases, cures for children,” Pearce told Roberts.

Speaking of Olivia, Pearce added, “Unfortunately cells in her brain are dying. We can try and compensate for that with drugs and with gene therapy, but ultimately we want to be able to replace those cells and restore her to full function.”

Olivia has not yet been treated at Sanford Health. Her family's dream is for her to be treated at Sanford if researchers find a cure in time.

Currently, less than one percent of rare genetic diseases like Batten disease have treatments that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Researchers are in what they describe as a race against time to implement adult stem cell therapy — which is still in the research phase — as a cure.

“For stem cells, it's going to be a slightly slower process because it just hasn't been done before,” Pearce said. “You know, I'd like to be optimistic — one year — but it's probably more realistically three years, quite frankly.”

Pearce said he is encouraged that clinical trials and treatments for patients are already in progress.

“I personally can't think of any more, you know, job satisfaction than that because it's not a job. It's a passion,” Pearce said. “It’s a life.”

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