EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


June 15, 2013

Column: Summer '13 offers rays of sunshine for Americans

Amid all the gloom and doom of late, there really are some pockets of good news, folks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that the teenage birth rate has plummeted and that nearly every state is reporting lower births to unwed teens. After earlier reporting a record low of 31 births per 1,000 teens ages 15 to 19 from 2007 to 2011 (compared with 42 births per 1,000 for the previous five years), the CDC says the Mountain States of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada and Utah,saw rates fall by at least 30 percent.

Even more interesting, the CDC says the teen birth rate among Hispanics, the fastest-growing segment of the population, fell at least 40 percent in 22 states.

The federal government also is reporting another promising trend among young Americans: More of them are getting college degrees. The National Center for Education Statistics notes that one out of three Americans ages 25 to 29 have college degrees. That’s 33.6 percent, up from 24.7 percent in 1995 and 21.9 percent in 1975. Researchers hope this will halt a trend that put America behind many other countries in percent of adults with college educations.

While the search for new forms of energy will continue and increase, the rise in U.S. oil production has hit a record — an increase last year of more than 1 million barrels a day, or 14 percent. This has helped keep oil prices from sharply escalating, as had been feared.

On the science front, the ongoing battle against cancer is scoring more victories. Researchers have found that new ways of using the body’s immune system against cancer cells are working on such aggressive forms of cancer as late-stage melanoma. The treatment is beginning to be used on other forms of the disease, including cancers of the lungs, kidneys and colon.

And there is new evidence that antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV are also successful in preventing AIDS in groups at high risk of getting the disease.

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