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Less severe binge drinking, consuming five or more drinks in a row, has mostly declined in recent years among teens. But for high school seniors, the 2011 rate for 10 drinks in a row - 9.6 percent - was down only slightly from 2005.
The most extreme level - 15 or more drinks in a row within the past two weeks - didn't change from 2005 to 2011. Almost 6 percent of high school seniors reported recently drinking that amount.
The number of seniors engaging in the most extreme drinking "is really concerning because they're most at risk for the really severe consequences," including reckless driving, car accidents and alcohol poisoning, said lead researcher Megan Patrick of the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research.
Extreme binge drinking may be a behavior that's "more entrenched" among some teens, and thus harder to change, Patrick said.
The new report is an analysis of survey results that the university does for the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It's based on classroom questionnaires given to more than 16,000 high school seniors; a question on extreme binge drinking was added in 2005.
Whites and males were the most likely to engage in all levels of binge drinking, the report found. Students with more educated parents had higher rates of binge drinking than other kids, but lower rates of extreme binge drinking.
Extreme binge drinking was most common in rural areas and the Midwest and least common in the West.
The report was published online Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.
Young adults generally have higher levels of extreme drinking; a 2012 survey by the same group found that more than 1 in 4 people aged 19 to 30 had recently consumed at least 10 drinks in a row and more than 1 in 10 had at least 15 drinks in a row.
A journal editorial says the new report may help explain why hospitalizations for alcohol and drug overdoses among teens and young adults have increased in recent years despite ongoing declines in less severe binge drinking.
In the early 1980s, before all states made 21 the minimum legal drinking age, more than 40 percent of high school seniors said they had recently downed more than five drinks in a row, according to data cited in the editorial.
The 5-plus binge drinking rate steadily declined in more recent years for seniors, to 22 percent in 2011, although it was 24 percent in 2012, according to a previous report from the survey group. The new report has slightly different percentages because it is based on a subgroup of previous surveys. Survey results for 2012 on extreme binge drinking among seniors haven't been published yet.
--- Online: Journal: HTTP://JAMAPEDIATRICS.COM
Monitoring the Future: HTTP://WWW.MONITORINGTHEFUTURE.ORG
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the number Monday to spotlight the growing threat of germs that are hard to treat because they've become resistant to drugs.
Finally estimating the problem sends "a very powerful message," said Dr. Helen Boucher, a Tufts University expert and spokeswoman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. "We're facing a catastrophe."
Antibiotics like penicillin and streptomycin first became widely available in the 1940s, and today dozens are used to kill or suppress the bacteria behind illnesses ranging from strep throat to the plague. The drugs are considered one of the greatest advances in the history of medicine, and have saved countless lives.
But as decades passed, some antibiotics stopped working against the bugs they previously vanquished. Experts say their overuse and misuse have helped make them less effective.
In a new report, the CDC tallied the toll of the 17 most worrisome drug-resistant bacteria. The result: Each year, more than 2 million people develop serious infections and at least 23,000 die.
Of those, the staph infection MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, kills about 11,000, and a new superbug kills about 600. That bacteria withstand treatment with antibiotics called carbapenems - considered one of the last lines of defense against hard-to-treat bugs.
Germs like those have prompted health officials to warn that if the situation gets much worse, it could make doctors reluctant to do surgery or treat cancer patients if antibiotics won't protect their patients from getting infections.
"If we're not careful, the medicine chest will be empty" when doctors need infection-fighting drugs, said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden.
It's not clear that the problem is uniformly growing worse for all bugs. Some research suggests, for example, that MRSA rates may have plateaued and a separate CDC report released Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine found that serious MRSA infections declined 30 percent between 2005 and 2011.
MRSA bacteria have been the target of many hospital infection control efforts. These germs often live without symptoms on the skin, but also can cause skin or tissue infections, and become more dangerous when they enter the bloodstream.
Serious, invasive MRSA declined in all settings for a total of 80,461 infections in 2011, the journal report found. Most were linked with health care in people who'd recently been hospitalized or received other medical treatment. But for the first time, the more than 16,000 infections picked up in community settings outnumbered the 14,000 infections that began in the hospital.
A 2005-2010 study in the same journal suggests that pig manure might be a cause of some mostly less serious MRSA infections in people living near fertilized farm fields.
The study is based on patients from Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger Health System. It offers only circumstantial evidence, but the authors said the MRSA link is plausible because antibiotics are widely used on pig farms and other livestock operations to enhance animal growth, and the drugs are found in pig manure.
The study involved nearly 3,000 MRSA cases, about half of them not linked with health-care. The authors estimated that living near pig manure-fertilized fields may have accounted for about 11 percent of MRSA not linked with health care.
But how the germs might spread from pig manure to people with no close animal contact is uncertain, the study authors said. Close contact with an infected person or sharing personal items used by an infected person is the usual way MRSA spreads.
Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University infectious disease specialist, called the report "very provocative" but inconclusive.
Asked generally about antibiotic use in farm animals, the CDC's Frieden said it's an important problem, but he added, "Right now the most acute problem is in hospitals and the most resistant organisms are in hospitals."
Tanner contributed to his report from Chicago.
JAMA Internal Medicine: HTTP://JAMAINTERNALMEDICINE.COM
St. Louisians love their barbecue and apparently it shows. On its' blog, MOVOTO Real Estate has ranked the top ten meat-loving cities in the country. The criteria include steak houses per capita, butcher shops per capita, barbecue restaurants, burger joints and hot dog vendors per capita, as well as the number of National BBQ Festivals annually and cattle ranches within 15 miles. Orlando ranks number one, followed by Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Las Vegas with St. Louis in the number-five spot. Rounding out the top ten are Birmingham, Tulsa, Baton Rouge, and Miami with Honolulu and Tampa tied at number ten.