A form of immunotherapy gaining ground as a way to treat childhood food allergies has shown promise in treating another rising scourge of children and young adults: type 1 diabetes. In a small but rigorous clinical trial, British investigators gave patients recently diagnosed with the metabolic disorder a truncated version of the chemical that gives rise to insulin. Over the trial’s 12-month duration, eight newly diagnosed diabetic subjects who got a placebo treatment required steadily increasing insulin doses to maintain glycemic control. The 19 subjects who got the experimental immunotherapy, however, continued to produce their own insulin. Among the subjects who got the experimental immunotherapy, the need for added shots of the hormone did not escalate in the year following their diagnosis.

Number of binge drinkers in U.S. rises

Americans are drinking more than they used to, a troubling trend with potentially dire implications for the country’s health care costs. The number of adults who binge drink at least once a week could be as high as 30 million, according to a published in JAMA Psychiatry. A similar number reported alcohol abuse or dependency. Between the genders, women showed the larger increase in alcohol abuse, according to the report. The share of adults who reported any alcohol use, high-risk drinking, or alcohol dependence or abuse increased significantly between surveys conducted in 2001-02 and follow-up surveys in 2012-13. About 12.6 percent of adults reported risky drinking during the previous year in 2012-13, compared with 9.7 percent in 2001-02. That 3 percentage point increase may not seem like a huge jump, but given an adult U.S. population of about 250 million, it represents roughly 7 million more people binge drinking at least once a week.

Hearing loss among teens has dropped

Young people continue to listen to loud music on their headphones. But a reassuring new analysis found that hearing impairment rates among teens have dropped since an alarming spike in hearing loss was reported a decade ago. The study examined data from representative samples of thousands of U.S. youngsters ages 12-19 over more than two decades. The rate of moderate hearing loss had increased to 22.5 percent in 2007-08, up from 17 percent during the period from 1988 to 1994. But it dropped to 15.2 percent in the most recent study period, in 2009-10. A study author attributed the improvement to behavioral changes such as avoiding noise and wearing volume-limiting headphones.

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