Health Highlights: Sept. 2, 2009

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  • Detroit Leads Nation in Teen Births: Report
  • New York City to Offer Free Swine Flu Vaccine to School Children
  • 2-in-1 Heart Device Cuts Heart Failure
  • Communities Can Do More to Stop Childhood Obesity: Report

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:

Detroit Leads Nation in Teen Births: Report

Detroit and Cleveland hold the dubious distinction of landing at the top of the list of U.S. cities with the highest rates of teen births, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics and other sources. The data was tabulated in 2006, the latest year for which information is available.

As reported in the 2009 edition of Child Trends' Facts at a Glance, 20 percent of births in the Motor City were to women under the age of 20, while Cleveland came in second place with 19 percent of all births occurring among teen moms. Jackson, Miss., and Memphis, Tenn., followed with 18 percent.

On the other end of the scale, San Francisco had the lowest percentage of births among teen mothers (3 percent), followed by Seattle (4 percent) and Honolulu (6 percent).

There was also data on repeat births (two or more births) to teenage mothers. Dallas scored worst in this category with 28 percent of all teen births in that city involving repeat births. Boston had the lowest rate of repeat births among teens, at 11 percent.

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New York City to Offer Free Swine Flu Vaccine to School Children

In a bold move to combat the anticipated return of swine flu this fall, the New York City school district will provide free vaccinations to its 1 million-plus students.

New York City was the first large U.S. city to be hit hard when the H1N1 swine flu virus first surfaced last spring. Hundreds of children in the city were sickened by the disease. Officials estimate as many as 1 million city residents fell ill, and more than 50 people died. Nationwide, swine flu has killed about 500 people, the Associated Press reported.

"We know New Yorkers are concerned, very understandably, about the risks that they might face," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday. "Our job is to plan in case it is a big deal."

The vaccine given to school children -- in private as well as public schools -- will mostly be a nasal mist rather than a shot, the AP said.

Hundreds of school districts nationwide have agreed to allow vaccinations in school buildings, once the vaccine becomes available in mid- to late October, the news service said.

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2-in-1 Heart Device Cuts Heart Failure

A device that combines defibrillation with a resynchronization of the heart's rhythm did reduce heart patients' odd of developing heart failure, but it didn't save any more lives, a new study found.

Many patients already in serious heart failure are given the dual-purpose devices, which cost up to $40,000 each (not counting the cost to implant), according to the Associated Press.

But researchers led by Dr. Arthur Moss, of the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, wanted to see if the devices might benefit those with milder illness. "The answer is a clear, unequivocal yes," Moss told the AP. He presented the findings Tuesday in Barcelona, Spain, at the European Society for Cardiology meeting.

In the study, Moss and his team tracked the four-year outcomes of over 1,800 patients with mild heart disease -- half of whom received a defibrillator and half of whom got the defibrillator/resynchronization devices. Patients who got the combo devices had a 41 percent lower risk of developing heart failure, as well as lowered odds for hospitalization, the team said. However, the overall death rate was the same between the two groups.

Given the devices' expense, not all experts are convinced they need to be more widely used. According to the AP, Dr. Douglas Zipes, past president of the American College of Cardiology and now at the Indiana University School of Medicine, said the combination devices are already too widely used. And the AHA's current president, Dr. Clyde Yancy, called the study results "incremental (improvement), not a breakthrough."