(NEW YORK) -- More than eight in 10 kids under the age of 17 have antibodies from a past COVID-19 infection, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The analysis shows that as of August, 86% of children between 6 months and 17-years-old have had at least one COVID infection since the pandemic began.
That number is an increase from data in April, when the public health agency found 75% of people under the age of 17 had been infected with the virus.
"What we have to recognize is this is more of an indication that there's been broad spread of this virus in the pediatric community," said Dr. John Brownstein, an ABC News contributor and chief innovation officer at Boston Children's Hospital. "And that, you know, the kids are not sheltered from this virus. And we know that in a small number of cases, there's severe impacts."
What the findings don't mean is that 86% of children and adolescents are now protected against COVID reinfection because they've had COVID before. Experts have noted that they don't know exactly how long protection from infection lasts after contracting the virus.
"What we should not take away from this data is that that the kids are now immune from infection, so we can't make the leap that continual investment in vaccines and protections of our kids is not important," Brownstein said. "As we know, immunity wanes, variants evolved to evade prior immunity and so, you know, this is more a reflection of how amazingly widespread this virus is but it's not a reflection of future risk."
One ABC News analysis of state data found that, as of June, there'd been more than 1.6 million reinfections across 24 states, but experts said the number was likely much higher.
The CDC recommends everyone, regardless of prior infections, stay up to date on vaccinations -- including the newest booster shot, which targets the currently circulating BA.4 and 5 variant.
The agency recommends people ages 12 and older to receive one updated booster at least two months after their last vaccine dose. Boosters are also available for kids ages 5 through 11, but only if they received the Pfizer-BioNTech primary vaccine series.
The booster for that age group targets the original virus strain, not variants, but the CDC has said it expects vaccine boosters designed to target variants like omicron to be available for children aged 5-11 years by mid-October.
The CDC previously said it expects vaccine boosters designed to target variants like omicron to be available for children aged 5-11 years by mid-October.
Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have submitted requests to the Food and Drug Administration to authorize their updated boosters for adolescents for emergency use.
Dr. Peter Marks, the FDA's vaccine chief, said in late September he was "confident that we're only a matter of weeks away" from authorizing new boosters for the 5-11 age range. For kids under 5, Marks said there were still "a few months away" from authorization.
In the meantime, Marks encouraged parents to make sure their children get the primary vaccine series.
"There are a lot of kids ages 5 to 11 out there who haven't had their primary series, so you can't get the updated booster until you've had the primary series. So it's a good idea to think about getting your child vaccinated against COVID-19," he said.
(NEW YORK) -- As Hurricane Ian pounded the West Coast of Florida, Tiffani Henning watched the Category 4 storm from the third floor of Golisano Children’s Hospital in Fort Myers.
Henning huddled with about two dozen other moms last week as they watched their cars float away from the hospital's parking garage, boats float down what were once roads in front of the hospital and trees sway sideways and completely uproot from the ground.
Behind them through it all laid their newborn children, some of them critically ill, in the hospital's neo-natal intensive care unit, or NICU.
"We were right in the eye, right in the path of destruction," Henning told ABC News of the hospital, which is located less than nine miles from Sanibel Island, which suffered much of the storm's most devastating damage. "You're already in a situation of being a NICU mom and now you’re in the position of being a NICU mom in the middle of a hurricane."
Less than 48 hours before, Henning said she barely made it to the hospital to be able to ride out the storm with her twin sons, Paxton and Kamden, who were born in August, around three months premature.
Henning was preparing her Bonita Springs home for the hurricane on Monday, when she made a last-minute decision to drive the 35 minutes back to Golisano Children’s Hospital that same day. She made it just in time before a state of emergency was declared in Lee County and the hospital was locked down to visitors.
During the storm, Henning said she and fellow moms of NICU patients became worried as the hospital's first floor took on water and a call came over the loudspeaker for people on that floor to find higher ground.
"I'm like, if this water keeps rising, how are we getting the babies, because there were so many babies that were in the NICU," recalled Henning. "If the water keeps going up, there's only so many floors we can go up to before there are no more floors."
Inside the same NICU, Jennifer Morales Uparela spent much of the hurricane in a chair next to the isolette where her 1-month-old daughter, Allison, slept.
Morales Uparela said she tried to sleep too in order to help pass the time quickly. A native of Colombia, she was experiencing her first hurricane and doing so alone in a foreign country.
"I've never experienced something like this, and this is my first baby," Morales Uparela told ABC News through a translator. "What kept me going is I know that my baby needs me."
Morales Uparela, who had a high-risk pregnancy, was staying with family members in Cape Coral, Florida, when she was induced at 37 weeks on Sept. 4. Allison weighed 3 pounds, 13 ounces, at birth and was taken immediately to the NICU, where doctors have monitored her ever since.
On Sept. 28, the day of the hurricane, Morales Uparela said she went downstairs to get something to eat, and saw the flooding on the hospital's first floor.
"People did a good job of staying calm and the staff did a great job of keeping everyone under control," she said. "But I went back to the unit, and that’s when everything started going downhill."
A 'Herculean effort' to evacuate dozens of babies
Hurricane Ian, which devastated parts of Fort Myers and the surrounding area, killing over 100 people, caused Golisano Children’s Hospital to lose both power and water.
The hospital had a generator that kicked in at the time of the power outage, but lacking water, it began the process of evacuating its NICU patients.
Directly across the state, in the cities of Miami and Hollywood, two children's hospitals went into overdrive, activating their plans to begin treating the evacuated babies.
The hospitals -- Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami and Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood -- had been planning for the past week as Ian's path was formed, working with hospital leaders across the state to figure out who could accept patients.
"We started to hear that they were going to evacuate due to infrastructure issues and that is the point where we started thinking, okay, this is real. They're really going to need those patients out," said Caitlin Beck Stella, CEO of Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. "As soon as the hospital said, 'It's time to evacuate. It's unsafe,' everyone just jumped into motion."
In addition to figuring out where the babies would go, hospital officials had to figure out how the babies would get there.
One obstacle was that some roads and helicopter landing areas were unusable due to the storm. A second obstacle was that patients as small and critical as NICU babies are considered "complex transports," explained Dr. Marcos Mestre, vice president and chief medical officer of Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.
"They are essentially mini-ICUs that travel with the patients," Mestre said of the hospital's two helicopters and six ambulances that were used to transfer NICU babies.
In addition to the medical equipment, each patient travels with a transport team that consists of nursing staff and a medical coordinator.
"Every single case is unique," said Beck Stella. "Some of them are singletons. Some of them are multiples, so you have to think of how do you keep families together. You can't send one twin to Tampa and one twin to Joe DiMaggio."
Early Thursday, hospital officials said they got the green light that the roads and helicopter landing pads were safe.
That began a 48-hour effort of helicopters and ambulances flying and driving back and forth across the state of Florida to transport patients, according to Mestre and Beck Stella.
While the roads were safe, the ambulances were often dodging debris on the ground from the storm, both officials said.
"I think our ambulance drove back and forth across the state 10 times, just back and forth," said Beck Stella, whose hospital is located about 150 miles away from Golisano Children's Hospital. "We even had people from other parts of the state and from outside the state that started jumping in and being able to transport these babies safely."
She continued, "It was a Herculean effort."
In total, 61 NICU patients were transferred from Golisano Children’s Hospital to hospitals in other parts of the state, a hospital spokesperson told ABC News.
Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami admitted six of the hospital's NICU patients, and participated in five transfers to other hospitals, according Mestre.
Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital took in nearly two dozen NICU patients from Golisano Children’s Hospital, according to Beck Stella.
'It could have been so much worse'
The evacuations to different hospitals meant more stress for parents like Morales Uparela, who had just survived her first hurricane as a first-time mom.
Morales Uparela learned on Thursday that her daughter would be evacuated to Nicklaus Children's Hospital, but had no way to get there herself as she was told the ambulance would not have space.
It was only when the ambulance arrived at midnight to transport Allison, that the transport team told her to jump in, saying they would make room, according to Morales Uparela.
With Morales Uparela sitting in the front and nurses taking care of Allison in the back of the ambulance, the team made the drive to Miami, which Morales Uparela described as treacherous.
"There was a lot of debris in the highway," she said. "They had to go carefully with lots of debris and trees down."
Henning, the mom of twins, navigated the drive across Florida herself on Friday, after her sons were airlifted to Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital earlier that morning.
Facing a city-wide curfew, Henning said she had gone home from Golisano Children’s Hospital Thursday afternoon.
She said she was woken up by a phone call early Friday morning from the hospital, letting her know the twins would be evacuated but they weren't yet sure to where or whether they would stay together.
Kamden was eventually evacuated first, followed by Paxton, on separate helicopters.
Henning said she and her husband made the nearly two-hour drive to Hollywood on Friday, and were able to reunite with their sons.
"There were lots of tears," she said. "I got to hold both of them and cuddle them and knowing that they were at another place and safe was just the best peace of mind."
Henning's sons continue to be treated at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, but she said she is hopeful they can soon return to Golisano Children’s Hospital, which has since reopened.
The family lost a car in the storm and lost power and water at their home, but feel thankful to be alive and together.
"It could have been so much worse," said Henning, who said she is most grateful for the medical staff that cared for her sons while their own homes and families were affected by the hurricane.
(NEW YORK) -- Sexual violence survivors may often face overwhelming medical bills when seeking emergency care, a factor that could discourage many people from seeking treatment, experts say.
Survivors of sexual violence are charged nearly $4,000 in medical bills, on average, after seeking emergency care following an assault, according to a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Only one in five victims of sexual violence seek medical care in the United States. The study's authors conclude that medical bills may deter victims from seeking treatment.
People without health insurance pay an average of $3,673 out of pocket while those with insurance still pay around 14% of total costs billed, an average of $497.
Pregnant women that experience sexual assault and seek emergency medical care experience the highest charges at $4,553 on average, for their visit.
These bills may particularly burden low-income women and girls, disproportionately victims of sexual assault.
"We're discouraging people from seeking medical care when we charge them a huge amount of money for that care," study author Dr. Stephanie Woolhandler, MD, a distinguished professor of public health at CUNY's Hunter College, and a lecturer of medicine at Harvard Medical School, told ABC News.
"I saw a rape victim who told me that she hadn't gone to the emergency room because she knew she wouldn't be able to afford it," said study author Dr. Samuel Dickman, healthcare policy researcher and primary care physician at Planned Parenthood of Montana.
Dickman tells ABC News, "the patients I've seen and who've described to me the feeling that they are completely unsupported by the healthcare system. They know they can't access affordable care after being assaulted. For many survivors, that feels like adding an additional layer of trauma."
Woolhandler says that people should ask for financial assistance when seeking treatment in the emergency department.
"Depending on your income, you may be eligible for financial assistance, and you often have to ask for it," she said. Another tip from Woolhandler is "for people who are veterans to check and see if they're eligible for care at the Veterans Administration hospitals because that care comes with very minimal copayments and deductibles."
In this post-Roe era, women are even less protected by the healthcare system when they experience sexual assault. As of September 2022, 11 states have banned abortions, including abortions of pregnancies that resulted from rape.
"Under laws that say that rape survivors need to prove that they got medical care to qualify for an exemption to get an abortion. That means you're asking the survivors to go to the emergency room, potentially incurring thousands of medical debt to access abortion. It's totally inhumane," said Dickman.
"We need to reform the Violence Against Women Act to cover medical care, comprehensively, not just for the forensic exam," Dickman said.
The Violence Against Women Act is a federal law that pays for evidence gathering but leaves people responsible for additional bills associated with emergency care following an assault. Broadening provisions of the Violence Against Women Act to include payment for other services, not just evidence collection, could help survivors avoid financial hardship and further trauma.
"Tragically, our political system continues to fail survivors of rape and sexual assault," said Dickman.
(NEW YORK) -- Most people suffering from long COVID are experiencing some trouble performing day-to-day activities, new federal data shows.
As of Sept. 26, 81% of adults with ongoing symptoms of COVID lasting three months or longer -- or four out of five adults -- are experiencing limitations in their daily activities compared to before they had the virus.
Additionally, 25% said they were experiencing significant limitations.
The data was published Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.
The NCHS has been issuing the experimental Household Pulse Survey to ask about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic since April 2020 but included a question last month, in the survey sent to more than 50,000 people, on how long COVID has reduced people's ability to carry out day-to-day activities.
Young adults between ages 18 and 29 had the highest share of people currently with long COVID who have trouble performing daily tasks, at 86.3%. Meanwhile, those between ages 40 and 49 had the lowest share, at 76.1%.
When current long COVID patients were broken down by race/ethnicity, Black Americans were the most likely to report problems performing day-to-day activities, at 84.1%. This was also the racial group most likely to report significant limitations, along with white Americans.
The data showed that Asian Americans have the smallest share of long COVID patients with trouble performing daily tasks, at 76.7%.
The survey did not report data for most states. However, of the 14 states with data, Texas had the highest percentage of long COVID patients with activity limitations at 87.6% and Kentucky had the lowest percentage at 69%.
Long COVID occurs when patients who have cleared the infection still have symptoms lasting more than four weeks after recovering. In some cases, these symptoms can persist for months or even years.
Patients can experience a variety of lingering symptoms including fatigue, difficulty breathing, headaches, brain fog, joint and muscle pain, and continued loss of taste and smell, according to the CDC.
It's unclear what causes people to develop long COVID but research is ongoing.
The data showed that 14.2% of survey participants said they had experienced long COVID at some point during the pandemic.
Adults under age 60 were more likely to say they had the condition than older adults, and females were more likely to report long COVID than males.
A review from Johnson & Johnson's Office of the Chief Medical Officer for Women's Health published in June 2022 analyzed data from studies involving 1.3 million patients and found women are 22% more likely to develop long COVID than men.
(NEW YORK) -- Women are more likely to spend double the amount of time than men caregiving, tackling chores and doing housework -- all tasks that can lead to a greater impact on mental health and even burnout, according to a new study in the medical journal The Lancet Public Health.
Researchers analyzed data from 19 studies which included data from over 70,000 individuals around the world for study. They found women in the U.S. spend about four-and-a-half hours per day caring for their families and homes while men spend about 2.8 hours a day on the same or similar tasks.
All the household work and caregiving -- typically unpaid and "invisible" labor -- can in turn take a major toll on women's mental health.
For Tessa Kerley, a mom of two, the caregiving and housework work begins first thing in the mornings, before she leaves home for work as a full-time teacher.
"My husband has already left for work, so it is me getting two kids out the door," Kerley told "Good Morning America" in a video message.
"I'm leaving my house a mess. But it's one of those things that it will just stay that way until I get home," she said.
Katie Clark, also a mom to two kids, says getting her family out the door in the mornings can be a challenge.
"Me and my husband have a really good routine down. We both wake up with the kids," Clark told "GMA." "Today, I'm going to be dropping the boys off at school because my husband has to go into the office, so I'll drop them off at day care and then I have to get on my way and get to work."
Jennifer Esguerra is also a working mom and has three children. Sometimes, Esguerra has to travel for work and she told "GMA" juggling it all can be stressful.
"I was up at 4 a.m. yesterday morning to be on a 5:55 a.m. flight and now I'm back at the airport trying to get home to my 6-month-old, 3-year-old and 5-year-old, and my flight was canceled," Esguerra explained in a recent video message. "Being a working mom isn't easy."
Eve Rodsky, the bestselling author of "Fair Play" and a mom herself, says the type of unpaid labor women take on can be a factor in women's mental health as much as the amount of time is spent doing it.
"Men hold cards that they can do at their own timetable, like mowing the lawn, whereas women are the ones still, to this day, responsible for tasks like meal planning, responsible for grocery shopping and responsible for things like going to get their children when they're sick, if a school calls," Rodsky said.
After speaking with moms during the pandemic, Rodsky came up with a list of the top chores she said negatively affect mothers' mental health the most.
Author Eve Rodsky identified twelve chores that working mothers told her they do often and which she says can negatively impact mothers' mental health.
The Dirty Dozen Tasks Affecting Moms' Mental Health
Watching the Kids
Managing Social Interactions
There are many reasons why women may tend to assume more responsibilities at home or when it comes to raising children. Many say the patterns often start before kids are born, with fathers given less or no paid paternity leave. The shift in household chores then don't likely change after mothers return to work.
In her 2019 book, Rodsky provided tips for working parents to improve their household and time management situations. Among her tips are four key rules that parents can consider when dividing chores and determining who does what type of work:
All time is created equal.
Reclaim your right to be interesting.
Start where you are now.
Establish your values and standards.
Parents can list out all chores and split them into four categories, as Rodsky recommends in her book and in the book's accompanying card game, which is available as a free download after a book purchase -- Home (handling dishes, groceries), Out (transporting kids), Caregiving (medical, dental appointments) and Magic (because it takes time to play Santa or the Tooth Fairy).
The Lancet Public Health study is the latest report illustrating the broad gap and labor divide between women and men. A 2021 analysis from the Center for Global Development also found that women on average provide three times more child care during the pandemic than men. Another 2021 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation also found that women were likely to experience more stress from the pandemic's impact than men.
(NEW YORK) -- Just weeks before Halloween, law enforcement officials are warning about a deadly drug packaged in pills that "look like candy."
So-called rainbow fentanyl began showing up on the streets on the West Coast in February and has gradually made its way across the country.
This week, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and law enforcement partners announced the first significant seizure of rainbow fentanyl. It happened on Sept. 28 when agents and officers stopped a vehicle on the Manhattan side of the Lincoln Tunnel that contained 15,000 multicolored pill with an estimated street value of $300,000.
The multicolored pills are similar in look to party drugs and meant to be more appealing to young people, according to the DEA’s Frank Tarrentino, who called it “newly packaged poison.”
“Fentanyl is everywhere and it is on everything,” Tarrentino said, noting some of the pills seized in the car were discovered in a yellow Lego box.
“The pills look like candy,” said New York City’s special narcotics prosecutor Bridgette Brennan. “We believe it is critically important to educate the public about this new form fentanyl is taking.”
Illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, is one of the primary drivers of the significant increases in drug overdose deaths in recent years. More than 56,000 people died of from overdoses involving synthetic opioids in 2020, an increase of 56% from the previous year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The pills are often made to resemble real prescription opioid medication like Oxycontin, Vicodin and Xanax, or stimulants like Adderall, according to the DEA. Most are made in Mexico, with China supplying the chemicals.
In a warning issued in August, the DEA said that brightly colored fentanyl is being distributed not just in pill form but also "powder, and blocks that resembles sidewalk chalk."
According to the agency, 2 milligrams of fentanyl, the equivalent of 10 to 15 grains of table salt, is "considered a lethal dose."
"Without laboratory testing, there is no way to know how much fentanyl is concentrated in a pill or powder," the DEA said. "Fentanyl remains the deadliest drug threat facing this country."
Amid all the recent warnings, statistics about rates of overdoses by so-called rainbow fentanyl are not available yet.
In response to the growing threat and the recent rise in deaths due to fentanyl, school districts in Florida, Texas and California have announced new plans to fight the crisis.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second-largest school district, announced last month that naloxone, a medicine used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, would be available at all K-12 schools in the district in the coming weeks, provided for free by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
The announcement comes after several suspected overdoses in the last month, with one juvenile dying at Bernstein High School in Hollywood, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Here are questions about fentanyl and the growing crisis, answered:
Why does fentanyl exist?
Pharmaceutical fentanyl is used frequently in medical settings. Developed for the pain management treatment of cancer patients, it is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin, according to the DEA.
"It is a very good and effective medicine at relieving pain in appropriate quantities managed by anesthesia," Dr. Kimberly Sue, medical director of the National Harm Reduction Coalition and an addiction specialist at Yale University, told ABC News last year. "What we're seeing in the opioid overdose deaths in this country is related to fentanyl that is obtained outside of the context of medical prescriptions, usually on the street."
Why is fentanyl so deadly?
Fentanyl is dangerous because it "depresses" a person's respiratory function and central nervous system, and can cause a person to stop breathing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If fentanyl is inhaled, consumed or injected it can be deadly, but a person cannot overdose by touching it.
How does a person know if they've taken fentanyl?
There is no way to know whether a pill or powder contains fentanyl by simply looking at it, and fentanyl has no distinctive taste or smell.
"In the case of a pill that you buy off the street, people should assume there is fentanyl present even if it is labeled as some other medication," said Sue. "I've taken care of many patients who think they're buying oxycodone or heroin and there's nothing in it. It's just fentanyl."
Fentanyl test strips are one tool people can use to test for the drug before consuming something that could be laced with fentanyl, like a pill, powder, nasal sprays or eye drops.
To use the strips, a person dissolves a small amount of the substance in water, and then dips the test strip into the water. The strips can give results in as little as five minutes, according to the CDC.
Is there a way to reverse a fentanyl overdose?
Naloxone, the medication being made available at all Los Angeles public schools, is the main tool used to reverse an overdose.
The medication, also known under the brand name Narcan, can restore normal breathing within two to three minutes in someone who has overdosed, according to the CDC.
Naloxone is available in all 50 states, can be used without medical training and can be delivered by either nasal spray or injection.
In most states, naloxone can be purchased from a pharmacy without a prescription, according to the CDC.
Where does illicitly manufactured fentanyl come from?
Police and other experts say fentanyl and fentanyl-laced pills have been illegally imported from as far out as China and even smuggled through the U.S.-Mexico border.
Of the more than 11,000 pounds of fentanyl that made its way into the U.S. last year, more than half of it came through the border between Mexico and San Diego, according to investigators.
In some instances, Chinese drug suppliers send the ingredients to make fentanyl to cartels in Mexico. After creating the fentanyl, either in raw powder or pill form, the cartels would ship them across the border in trucks, according to investigators.
Border patrol agents have stepped up their searches for the pills and other related fentanyl contraband, officials told ABC News in May.
What do I do to help a person who is overdosing?
If you think a person is overdosing but are not sure, the CDC says to treat it like an overdose.
Signs that a person is overdosing may include small and constricted pupils, slow and shallow breathing, choking sounds, falling asleep or losing consciousness and pale, blue or cold skin, according to the CDC.
The first thing to do is call 911 immediately.
Next, the CDC says to administer naloxone to the person if it is available.
While administering help, try to keep the person awake and breathing and lay them on their side to help prevent choking.
If you or someone you love is in need of help, call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit http://www.samhsa.gov/find-help to reach SAMHSA's 24-hour helpline that offers free, confidential treatment referral and information about mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention and recovery.
(STOCKHOLM) -- A Swedish scientist won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine this week for his work in evolution.
The committee awarded Svante Pääbo, director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, "for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution.”
Pääbo sequenced the genome of the bones of a Neanderthal, the ancestor of modern-day humans.
By extracting and studying the DNA, which was widely believed to be impossible, it led to the discovery of a hominin -- a type of human species -- that was previously unknown, called Denisova.
This work also helped traced the migrations of extinct species and how they influenced the physiology of modern humans, particularly how our immune systems work.
“Pääbo’s seminal research gave rise to an entirely new scientific discipline; paleogenomics,” the committee said in a press release. “By revealing genetic differences that distinguish all living humans from extinct hominins, his discoveries provide the basis for exploring what makes us uniquely human.”
Pääbo’s father is biochemist Sune Bergström, who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1982 for the discovery of prostaglandins, compounds in the body that have hormone-like effects.
Each Nobel prize is worth 10 million kronor -- the equivalent of about $900,000 -- and is given to laureates with a diploma and a gold medal on Dec. 10, the date the creator of the Nobel prizes, Alfred Nobel, died in 1896.
In 2021, scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian jointly received the prize "for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch."
(WASHINGTON) -- Jillian Hughes, 33, of Washington, D.C., said she dealt with symptoms of anxiety for more than a decade before getting a diagnosis of and treatment for anxiety disorder in her 20s.
Lanee Higgins, of Baltimore, remembers being labeled a "worrier" as a child, a label she said stuck with her all the way through this year, when, as a 30-year-old, she was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, a condition that "involves a persistent feeling of anxiety or dread that interferes with how you live your life," according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
In California, Debbie Paperman, who is in her 40s, said she struggled with anxiety for at least two decades before being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
"Everyone's anxiety is different, but I think too many people think anxiety is something you just have to blow off and not think it's something to address," Paperman told ABC News. "A lot of times, people think anxiety is something that is happening because of something and not just because it's part of your brain structure."
Anxiety is the feeling evoked when someone experiences fear of something bad happening, and it can lead to avoidance, panic attacks, excessive worrying or other symptoms. Anyone can have anxiety at times, but when anxiety becomes overwhelming to the point that it consistently interferes with daily life, it can be an anxiety disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
In the United States, anxiety disorders affect as many as one in five adults, data shows.
Now, for the first time, a panel of national medical experts has recommended that adults under age 65 get screened for anxiety during routine medical visits.
The draft recommendations issued last week by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force call on physicians to use standardized anxiety screenings like existing questionnaires to assess whether patients may have some of the signs and symptoms of anxiety.
The recommendations are intended as one way to help prevent mental health conditions from going undetected, according to Lori Pbert, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School professor, who serves on the task force.
"What we found was that screening for anxiety in adults younger than 65, including people who are pregnant and postpartum, can help identify anxiety early so people can be connected to the care they need," Pbert told ABC News. "This recommendation is specifically for individuals who do not have a mental health diagnosis and are not showing recognized signs or symptoms of an anxiety disorder."
People who have signs and symptoms of anxiety should proactively reach out to a doctor for help, she added.
The first-of-its-kind anxiety screening recommendation is seen as of particular importance to women, who suffer from anxiety disorder at greater rates than men, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Women are more than twice as likely as men to get an anxiety disorder in their lifetime, according to the U.S. Office on Women's Health. Risk factors for anxiety disorders can include genetics, hormonal changes and traumatic events, according to the office.
All three women who spoke with ABC News about their anxiety disorders said they struggled with not having a diagnosis of anxiety for so many years.
All said they believe they would have benefited if their primary health doctors had asked about their mental health, anxiety in particular.
"I definitely would have appreciated at the ages of 13, 14, 15 or in my 20s, a screening and then a referral to resources that I could access," said Hughes, now executive vice president of communications at Mental Health America, a nonprofit organization that supports mental health advocacy, education and research. "I definitely would have benefited from coping skills and some different framing in my mind of my anxiety and how it affects me."
Paperman, of California, put it more simply, saying of her decadeslong wait for a diagnosis, "It shouldn't have taken this long."
Why women suffer from anxiety disorders at a higher rate than men is a discrepancy not yet completely understood from a medical perspective. Some experts say it may be due, in part, to women's changing hormones during their menstrual cycle and reproductive years, and women may report symptoms of anxiety more frequently than men.
"I don't know that anybody has clear evidence," said Dr. Beth Salcedo, past president of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and medical director of The Ross Center, a mental health treatment center. "With women's reproductive changes, they're a little bit more likely to see anxiety or mood disorders show up, but nobody really has an idea why it's different among the sexes from a biological perspective."
Salcedo, a practicing psychiatrist, said she applauds the task force's recommendation for more frequent and accessible anxiety screenings, but said it's only a first step in the process of getting care to people who need it.
"It's a value-add overall, but the medical system needs to change to be able to manage these things," Salcedo said. "If the government was willing to put a trained clinician in every one of these offices to look at the screens and evaluate the patients and make recommendations for therapy and give access to good treatment, that would be ideal, but that's not what this is, unfortunately."
Pbert said that with the recommendation that doctors include anxiety screenings in appointments, the hope is that people who may have vague symptoms they don't recognize as anxiety can be helped early.
Symptoms of anxiety disorders can include physical symptoms like restlessness, fatigue and even sometimes chest discomfort or trouble breathing, as well as mental symptoms such as fear and dread about things that may happen, according to the Office on Women's Health.
"Screening for anxiety disorders is not the only step. It's the first step," Pbert said, adding that if a person shows signs of an anxiety disorder on the screener, "they then can be linked up with appropriate treatment and follow-up care."
Pbert said the task force's recommendation will not be finalized until after the panel reviews public comments, which could take several months.
While the task force's recommendation would not be mandatory for doctors, it carries enormous weight in the medical community and its recommendations often change the way doctors practice medicine.
What to know about anxiety disorders
Like most mental health conditions, anxiety falls on a spectrum, with differing degrees of severity.
There are four main types of anxiety disorders.
Generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, is described as worrying "excessively about ordinary, day-to-day issues, such as health, money, work, and family," according to the OWH. Women with GAD may be anxious about just getting through the day, may have difficulty doing everyday tasks and may have stress-related physical symptoms, like difficulty sleeping or stomachaches, according to the Office on Women's Health.
Panic disorder, also twice as common in women as in men, may see people having panic attacks, described by the Office on Women's Health as "sudden attacks of terror when there is no actual danger." People having panic attacks may feel like they're having a heart attack, dying or losing their minds.
A third type of anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, is diagnosed when people "become very anxious and self-conscious in everyday social situations," including embarrassing easily, according to the Office on Women's Health. People with social anxiety disorder can often have panic attack symptoms around social situations.
The fourth type of disorder, specific phobia, is an intense fear of something, such as heights, water, animals or specific situations, that possess "little or no actual danger," according to the Office on Women's Health.
Each type of anxiety disorder can bring with it different symptoms, but they all involve a "fear and dread about things that may happen now or in the future," according to the Office on Women's Health.
Treatment for anxiety disorders often includes a combination of counseling and medication -- and both together are often most effective.
When it comes to counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is often used to help people change thinking patterns around their fears, according to the Office on Women's Health. With medication, a prescription medication to treat and prevent future episodes of anxiety on a long-term basis is different than a medication such as Xanax or Valium that is intended for infrequent treatment of acute anxiety.
Treatment options for anxiety are shown here.
Other factors such as physical activity, nutrition and mindfulness can also play a role in coping with anxiety, although less is known about the role they play in treating anxiety disorders, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, an entity of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Melissa Presser, a mom of three in south Florida, said it took a combination of many therapies for her to learn how to cope with the anxiety she said she's lived with for much of her life.
"Exercises that are quieting the mind, that has been a big part of my healing," said Presser, also an attorney and writer. "Another big part of my recovery has been a peer group. That was so overwhelmingly helpful, to sit with peers who were also suffering to varying degrees."
Presser said she has learned that anxiety disorders are not a condition you can diagnose by looking at someone, which is why she said it's important for doctors to talk with patients about the condition and empower them to get care.
"People who suffer from anxiety, you would never know it for most people from the outside," she said. "If you saw me on the street, you'd have no idea that I was suffering. I'm a person who functions with anxiety."
(NEW YORK) -- Women in their 20s and 30s are taking to social media to share their breast cancer diagnoses and raise awareness of breast cancer in women under 40.
"They're just starting their careers. They're starting their families," said Dr. Margaret Thompson, a doctor in breast services at Cleveland Clinic Florida. "They have their whole life ahead of them."
The American Cancer Society recommends that women ages 50 to 54 should have annual mammography exams and women over 55 should be screened every two years or once a year.
Since it may be more difficult to diagnose breast cancer for women younger than 40, two young women told "Good Morning America" that discovering their cancer could have meant the difference between life and death.
Entrepreneur Diamonique Valentine was 27 when she first shared her diagnosis on Instagram. Since her diagnosis, she's posted her breast cancer journey to thousands of viewers. Valentine said she never thought that having cancer was something that could happen to her.
"That moment I was diagnosed it was like, 'You have cancer. OK, you're gonna die,'" said Valentine, who said she was prompted to go to the doctor after she found a lump on her breast.
Valentine was diagnosed with stage 3 triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), a cancer that is considered aggressive because it grows quickly, according to the American Cancer Society.
Additionally, Black women under 40 were more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than white women, according to a study published in the Journal of Surgical Research. Black women under 65 were also found to have a higher risk of death from breast cancer than white women.
Each year in the United States, the CDC reports that about 264,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and about 2,300 in men.
Alexis Howerin was a 21-year-old college student when she was diagnosed with stage 2 cancer after she had found a lump on her breast.
"It was definitely gut-wrenching. The only thing that I knew about cancer was it took my grandmother's life," Howerin said. "So immediately, I thought ... 'Oh, my life is pretty much over.'"
Like Valentine, Howerin also uses her online platform to document what breast cancer looks like to her.
One in eight women born in the United States will develop breast cancer at some point in their life, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Although the risk for breast cancer in young women remains low, breast cancer found in young women can be more aggressive and more difficult to treat, according to Thompson, who treats women of all ages.
"In younger age women, the biology of the tumor tends to present with more aggressive features, compared to postmenopausal women," Thompson said.
Breast cancer can also be more difficult to spot in young women. Younger breast tissue tends to be dense so spotting tumors, even on mammograms, can be more challenging and may be misdiagnosed, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Valentine said she believes if she had been a better self-advocate, she could have been diagnosed with breast cancer sooner.
"I wish that I would have advocated a little bit more and was a little bit more diligent in finding someone who would screen me with no insurance," Valentine said.
Both Valentine and Howerin are now cancer-free and focused on raising awareness around self-breast exams, especially for young women.
They are also both looking forward to the next years of their lives.
"I always dreamt of being a mother. ... One of my biggest goals in life is to have my own kids," said Howerin, who had frozen her eggs because harsh cancer treatment may pose a risk of infertility.
Valentine, who also wanted to be a mother, said she and her husband hoped for the best.
In May, they gave birth to a baby named Mali.
"He's everything that me and my family needed. He is like the reward after the storm," she said. "Nothing makes me more grateful."
(NEW YORK) -- More than two dozen brands of cheese have been recalled in connection with a listeria outbreak that has left multiple people hospitalized, federal officials said.
Old Europe Cheese recalled 25 brands of brie and camembert on Friday amid a multistate outbreak of listeria monocytogenes infections that have been linked to the products, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Six people have been infected, with five requiring hospitalization, said the CDC, which is investigating the outbreak. No deaths have been reported. Those infected live in California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Texas.
Four of the patients reported eating brie or camembert prior to their illness. An analysis of environmental samples taken from Old Europe Cheese's Michigan facility showed the presence of a listeria strain that matched the strain causing illnesses in the current outbreak, the Food and Drug Administration said.
Old Europe Cheese has voluntarily recalled the brie and camembert cheeses produced at the facility and is working with the FDA "on corrective actions," the agency said.
The recalled products include best-by dates ranging from Sept. 28, 2022, to Dec. 14, 2022, and include brands sold nationwide at multiple retailers such as Stop & Shop, Whole Foods, Sprout and Lidl.
A full list of recalled products can be found here.
"Investigators are working to determine if additional products may be contaminated," the CDC said.
Anyone with a recalled product is advised to throw it away and clean any surfaces and containers that may have come into contact with it.
Listeria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections. Young children, those with weakened immune systems and the elderly are most at risk. Listeria infection can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths.
Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Anyone with symptoms of severe listeria illness after eating the recalled cheese should call their health care provider right away.
The recall comes after more than 87,000 pounds of various ready-to-eat meat products manufactured by Illinois-based Behrmann Meat and Processing were recalled due to possible listeria contamination.
The items were produced from July 7, 2022, to Sept. 9, 2022, and distributed in Illinois, Kentucky, and Missouri. There have been no confirmed reports of illness in connection with the products, the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said in a press release last week announcing the recall.
(MELBOURNE, FL) -- A pregnant Florida woman braved strong winds and potentially dangerous flooding to get to a hospital after she went into labor during Hurricane Ian.
Hanna-Kay Williams, from Melbourne -- about 70 miles southeast of Orlando -- started to experience contractions late Tuesday evening.
The area was already experiencing signs of the hurricane to come with fierce wind gusts and rain already coming down. Williams said she knew she was going to go into labor soon, so she, her fiancé and her mother drove through the treacherous conditions to Health First's Holmes Regional Medical Center.
"I don't even remember driving through the storm because I was in my own mental hurricane," she said in a news release.
They arrived at the hospital in the early hours of Wednesday morning, but Williams' delivery would not come quickly.
According to the release, Williams was in labor for more than 20 hours as Ian unleashed heavy rain and winds of more than 40 mph in the central part of the state.
Doctors decided a C-section was needed because Williams wasn't fully dilated and there were signs of fetal distress, which occurs when a fetus experiences changes in heart rate or shows signs of oxygen deprivation before or during labor.
Thanks to the medical care, Williams had a healthy baby girl named Wajiha at 10:11 p.m. ET, weighing 7 pounds 13 ounces and measuring 20 inches, after the C-section.
"Her name means beautiful woman, glorious, and she was phenomenal throughout the birthing process," Williams said.
After the difficult labor and severe weather, she said she and her family feel grateful Wajiha is doing well.
"We came out on top, we definitely did," Williams said in the release. "I felt when she first arrived and they sat her on my lap, the first thing I said was, 'That's a big baby' and then I looked at her and thought, 'That's my twin,' even though I already have a fraternal twin."
Williams said she thanks the nursing staff and everyone on the medical team for keeping her calm during the challenging childbirth.
"They made me feel like everything was going to be fine even through the hardest parts," she said. "They gave me so much love and care and for someone who works in the medical field, I know how important that is for patients."
After battering the southwestern coast, Hurricane Ian moved towards central Florida, bringing heavy flooding, resulting in people being rescued from homes, cars and even nursing homes.
In Orlando, a record rainfall of 12.5 inches was recorded in 24 hours. In New Smyrna Beach, about 50 miles northwest of Florida, 28.60 inches of rain fell in 27 hours.
During a news conference Thursday morning, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Central Florida was experiencing "a 500-year flood event."
As of Friday afternoon, nearly 2 million people are without power in the state, including more than 600,000 across Central Florida, according to poweroutage.us.
(NEW YORK) -- Since the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline launched on July 16, call centers have seen a 45% increase in contacts -- primarily in people texting or sending messages seeking help -- compared to last year, according to new data from the federal government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
"What we've seen is a big increase in text and chat, and some increase in phone calls," said Tim Jansen, chief executive officer for Community Crisis Services, Inc., in Hyattsville, Maryland. "Fortunately, [CCSI was] prepared. Answer rates have been really good nationally. The national waiting time has been reduced … It's still not where it needs to be, but it's significantly better."
988 is the new three-digit number for the service previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which had been operating with a ten-digit number since 2005. Prior to the launch of the new number -- touted as making the service more accessible -- advocates worried whether the system was appropriately funded and staffed to handle the anticipated spike in contacts from people in need.
The Lifeline has historically been underfunded and understaffed, the government has acknowledged. Ahead of the 988 launch and an anticipated increase in calls, $432 million in federal funding was invested in shoring up the system, enabling call centers across the nation to hire additional staff. But Jansen told ABC News that whether additional state funding is appropriated for the partner call centers in local areas across the country makes a difference.
"SAMHSA put some money in on the front end," Jansen said. "I think the SAMHSA funds have gotten everybody sort of off the mark and got everybody into the race. But it's got to be continued in order for things to move forward. Some states are going to do that easier than others."
Answer rate data from SAMHSA for the month of August, the first full month of implementation for 988, shows an 84% answer rate for calls, 97% for chats and 98% for texts. The answer rates for chats and texts represent a major increase compared to numbers released by SAMHSA in an appropriations report late last year, which showed a 30% answer rate for chats and 56% rate for texts through December 2020.
Jansen told ABC News that funding from the state of Maryland, in addition to the federal investments, made sure his facility was prepared. Many states, however, have offered no form of financial support for the system, though they were empowered by Congress in 2020 to enact cell phone taxes to fund the call centers, similar to how 911 call centers are funded.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra has been traveling across the country as part of HHS' National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health.
Earlier this month, he touted the Biden administration's investment in 988, saying in a statement: "Our nation's transition to 988 moves us closer to better serving the crisis care needs of people across America."
"988 is more than a number, it's a message: we're there for you," he added. "The transition to 988 is just the beginning. We will continue working towards comprehensive, responsive crisis care services nationwide to save lives."
Advocates for those in crisis, however, worry about the long-term of funding for the system given the uncertainty of future federal investment -- with shifting politics and shifting priorities -- and, so far, a lack of widespread monetary backing from states.
"We're going to need continued investment," said Hannah Wesolowski, chief advocacy officer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. "One of my fears is that people are gonna think, 'OK, [the launch], came and went, our work is done.' There's so much more work to do. I keep saying we're closer to the starting line than the finish. But I think this is something that has a lot of momentum, but also is going to help millions of people and we can't lose sight of that."
Jansen, with the crisis center in Maryland, said that while "so far, [it's] been beautiful," a designated fund via a cell phone tax would also "make a huge difference."
That scenario would allow his facility to "focus a little less on the fundraising and a whole lot more on service delivery," he said.
Four states have passed cell phone taxes that would fund the 988 call centers year over year.
"There's only so much money, and folks prioritize what they see as important," Jansen said. "Hopefully everybody sees saving lives from suicide is important. I think they do. But you know, it always comes down to 'where does money get spent?'"
Since the launch of the new number, advocates cite another worry: Misinformation spreading online about 988 using personal information to track callers or send police without cause to the homes of those contacting the service -- which those involved say is an exaggeration.
"My biggest concern is that people will lose trust in the system just as it's getting off the ground and has the potential to help millions of people," said Wesolowski with the National Alliance on Mental Illness. "I am really fearful that somebody who could use that support and help is going to hesitate to call. We want every life saved. We want every person who's in emotional distress helped."
Call centers do have "imminent risk" standards by which they are required to send assistance to people who have contacted 988, though most calls do not reach that level, according to SAMHSA.
"It is important to note that fewer than 2% of calls to the 988 Lifeline require an emergency response, and most of those are done with the consent and cooperation of the caller," Dr. John Palmieri, acting director of SAMHSA's 988 and Behavioral Health Crisis Coordination Office, said in a statement. "We want anyone who calls, texts, or chats 988 to know that they are not required to provide any personal information to talk to a trained counselor."
Jansen noted that "every imminent risk policy underscores least invasive intervention as is possible. So you do the things that are the least invasive."
"Ninety-nine times out of 100, people are ready, willing and able to participate [with emergency personnel]," he said. "They don't call, they don't start a text or chat unless some part of them wants to live. So you have a little bit of an advantage."
Wesolowski noted that the concerns online of excessive intervention from 988 disproportionately impact marginalized communities, particularly communities of color.
"A lot of communities that are marginalized by our public systems and have seen kind of the worst results from this type of response when it's been available are skeptical, and it is completely reasonable that they are, given their past experience," Wesolowski said. "The exact people who can be best helped by 988 and and the system being built around it may not trust it enough to call, and I think that's incredibly concerning. That means more people aren't going to get the help they need and potentially many more lives lost."
Jansen also noted that making sure the 988 system works for everyone is important going forward.
"We've really got to look at suicide as sort of a more comprehensive or global issue. We've really got to be able to market in a way that we're getting into communities of color," he said. "And we've got to be getting in touch with them and making sure everybody can use 988 in a way that's culturally appropriate and appropriate to their community and all that sort of stuff. So there's some work to be done there in terms of outreach."
Jansen said the most important part of what his Maryland call center does is meet people "where they are" and start there to help them.
"988 is your three-digit dialing to mental health and crisis care systems," he said. "You are going to reach somebody who can help you right now that's going to be kind and educated enough to connect you appropriately, and most importantly, listen to you in terms of what your situation is."
If you are experiencing suicidal, substance use or other mental health crises please call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. You will reach a trained crisis counselor for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also go to 988lifeline.org.
(NEW YORK) -- When 16-year-old Haley Meche stepped out onto the flag football field, she didn't know it would nearly kill her.
"My brain hurt so bad," Meche told ABC News' Good Morning America. "And then, like, everything went black."
Meche almost died from sudden cardiac arrest. She survived because she had known she had a heart condition and already had a defibrillator. Her doctors said that Meche's heart screening test detected her risk early -- and saved her life.
Studies have also shown that sudden cardiac arrest is the leading medical cause of death in athletes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 2,000 young people die from sudden cardiac arrest each year -- many without previously known heart issues.
"1 in 300 young persons has a condition at risk for sudden cardiac arrest," said Dr. Jonathan Drezner, the head of the UW Medical Center for Sports Cardiology in Washington, to GMA.
The risk is nearly four times higher in student athletes, according to Drezner. A risk that most athletes don't even know about, he said.
"Research shows that up to 80% of kids who suffer sudden cardiac arrest have no symptoms prior," said Drezner.
In Florida, non-profit "Who We Play For" is raising awareness around detecting risk earlier. They offer low-cost Electrocardiograms, or ECGs.
"It's never okay for a kid to die out of nowhere because they never know that they have a heart condition," said Meche.
Meche's school was one out of more than 150 schools in Florida that require student athletes to get an ECG before they play. Her doctors told her that early detection saved her life.
Similarly, Josh Tetteh was also able to detect a heart condition last year that, if gone unnoticed, could have led to sudden cardiac arrest.
He said he didn't have any symptoms so he wouldn't have known if it weren't for his preventative heart screening.
"My whole life was perfect," said Tetteh to GMA. "We had this screening, they found something within my heart that is one of the reasons why athletes die."
A majority of high schools across the country require student athletes to pass a thorough questionnaire endorsed by the American Heart Association (AHA) and a physical exam before playing sports. If a child is found at higher risk, guidelines call for additional testing and ECG.
Drezner said it's not enough.
"There is robust evidence that using that model for screening leaves the majority of kids at risk undetected," said Drezner.
The AHA told Good Morning America that it supports ECG testing for children at the highest risk, but stood by the current guidelines, which considers the latest research findings and patient safety.
The association also expressed concern that universal ECG screening may miss cases by de-emphasizing the importance of proper exams. Also, it would cost an estimated $2 billion that they said could be spent on other potentially life-saving interventions.
Dr. Eli Friedman, the medical director of sports cardiology at Miami Cardiac and Vascular Institute, agreed with the AHA guidelines and he advocated for other interventions.
"It's not a tool for everybody. The infrastructure is definitely a concern that I have because there's disparities in our healthcare system," said Friedman to GMA. "I advocate more than anything for emergency action planning, CPR and AED training."
The AHA said that it is an important area of study that needs more rigorous research and that there is concern that not all doctors are following screening guidelines.
As the debate continues, Bernadette Littles, Tetteh's mother, said she was grateful an ECG screening led to her son's diagnosis. She said she now volunteers to help other kids who may be in the same situation.
"After what happened to Josh, I volunteer. That's my way of saying thank you," she said to GMA. "Can't wait to go to Mayville State and watch him on the field."
(SILVER SPRING, Md.) -- Foods that claim to be "healthy" on their packaging will soon be subject to a new set of labeling guidelines, part of an effort by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help educate consumers on nutrition literacy and align packaging language with current nutritional guidance.
The FDA announced the new rules on Wednesday.
The proposed update will ensure that food labels with "healthy" content claims are better aligned with current nutrition science, the updated Nutrition Facts label and the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
For example, foods like salmon, despite having higher fat content, can now be labeled as "healthy," as it is a nutrient-dense food.
According to the FDA, "The proposed rule would update the 'healthy' claim definition to better account for how all the nutrients in various food groups contribute and may work synergistically to create healthy dietary patterns and improve health."
"Diet-related chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, are the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. and disproportionately impact racial and ethnic minority groups," FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D., said in a statement on Wednesday. "Today's action is an important step toward accomplishing a number of nutrition-related priorities, which include empowering consumers with information to choose healthier diets and establishing healthy eating habits early. It can also result in a healthier food supply."
The moves by the FDA are part of a broader anti-hunger push from President Biden. The changes were announced ahead of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.
The FDA also plans move nutrition labels from the back to the front of a food package to help consumers "with lower nutrition literacy."
The newly proposed rule on healthy labels is part of the agency's ongoing commitment to help improve nutrition and dietary patterns for consumers to ultimately help reduce the burden of chronic disease and advance health equity.
According to the FDA, 80% of Americans don't eat enough vegetables, fruit and dairy, and most consume too much added sugars, saturated fat and sodium.
"Nutrition is key to improving our nation's health," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. "Healthy food can lower our risk for chronic disease. But too many people may not know what constitutes healthy food. FDA's move will help educate more Americans to improve health outcomes, tackle health disparities and save lives."
(NEW YORK) -- The surge in children's respiratory illnesses, including rhinovirus and enterovirus, is pushing pediatric emergency departments and health systems toward capacity in some parts of the country.
Infectious disease experts say they are seeing a higher-than-expected rate of certain pediatric infections other than COVID-19. There is no one reason for this uptick, but factors include time of the year and relaxed pandemic restrictions.
Hospitals across at least four states -- Washington, Louisiana, New Jersey and Massachusetts -- have told ABC News they are feeling this crush and expect things to worsen as the school year proceeds and winter approaches.
Seattle Children's Hospital is "experiencing unprecedented Emergency Department (ED) volumes and inpatient census," Dr. Tony Woodward, medical director of emergency medicine and Emergency Medicine Division chief at Seattle Children's, told ABC News in a statement.
There has been a particular upward trend in respiratory viruses, along with the background of COVID-19 and other standard viruses, Woodward said, adding that he expects the coming RSV and flu season to further amplify the trend.
"While we're still seeing some patients requiring hospitalization specifically with COVID-19, other respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses are making our patients sick," Woodward said. "We are already seeing significant viral activity, which we expect to increase as kids are now back in school and the winter viral and flu season is approaching."
Enteroviruses can cause respiratory illness ranging from mild -- like a common cold -- to severe, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In rare instances, severe cases can cause illnesses like viral meningitis (infection of the covering of spinal cord and brain) or acute flaccid myelitis, a neurologic condition that can cause muscle weakness and paralysis.
RSV -- or respiratory syncytial virus -- can also cause mild, cold-like symptoms, and in severe cases, can cause bronchiolitis or pneumonia, according to the CDC. "Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults," the CDC says.
Seattle Children's is seeing more than double the number of respiratory visits associated with the rise in rhinovirus than they have at any time in the past year -- statistically significant, Dr. Russell Migita, attending physician and a clinical leader of emergency services at Seattle Children's Hospital, told ABC.
They've also seen an early rise in RSV, Migita said. "In typical years, RSV starts to rise in November and peaks in February. Last year, it started in August. This year, September/October."
Woodward added that "wildfire smoke has also exacerbated respiratory and other health concerns for many children in the region."
In response to the recent emergency department surges, Woodward said the hospital has increased physician staffing and opened additional beds.
In an advisory to pediatricians and hospitals shared with ABC News, the New Jersey Department of Health warned of increasing levels of enterovirus and rhinovirus activity earlier this month, and noted the state is seeing a similar "surge" like other parts of the country.
A spokesperson for the department said they are "monitoring and watching hospitalizations and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit census daily throughout the state," adding that officials have planned a call with hospitals "to assess pediatric capacity" amid the surge.
Doctors at RWJ Barnabas Health System in New Jersey are seeing that upward trend in cases firsthand, where a wave of children's enterovirus cases in recent weeks has pushed their pediatric ICUs to capacity, Dr. Uzma Hasan, division director of pediatric infectious disease at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center, told ABC News.
"Approximately two weeks ago we started to see the numbers steadily rising, and the ICUs were starting to hit capacity with these kids coming in with respiratory symptoms," Hasan said.
It has impacted asthmatic children and those with chronic lung disease particularly hard, but there have also been kids without any major underlying conditions who "seemed to have a pretty significant illness progress in a short period of time," Hasan added.
Children with chronic lung disease, premature babies and kids with asthma are considered especially high risk. Families of kids with asthma should have an action plan with how to deal with an asthma exacerbation if they become ill, Hasan said.
With regards to capacity, Hasan noted that staff had been in communication with state officials "to figure out which sites have ICU beds available to make sure these kids coming into the ER setting are getting accommodated."
One bittersweet silver lining of the pandemic, Hasan said, was how it had drilled hospitals and doctors on how to implement surge protocols and react to emergencies quickly, through COVID's many intense waves -- something has helped them handle the influx in respiratory cases of late. While hospitals are still understaffed and many doctors are grappling with burnout, they've been able to figure out ways to shuffle limited resources around where they're needed most, and how to stay nimble with shifting beds, patients and staff around fast.
"I think one good thing that came out of COVID -- if I can say that -- is we've learned to plan ahead of the game," Hasan said. "When we started seeing the numbers of patients showing up in the pediatric ERs rise and ICUs starting to fill up with kids, we got together pretty quickly to come up with a plan."
Still, that plan could be threatened as the country heads deeper into fall, flu season, and RSV season -- not to mention additional surges of COVID-19.
"The biggest worry is that we may see a concomitant rise in all these respiratory viruses -- and whether we will be able to accommodate the kids who are coming in with severe respiratory symptoms," Hasan told ABC. "We're bracing ourselves for what's next to come."
Ochsner Health in Louisiana is also seeing an "influx" of children's respiratory infections.
"Like other hospitals across the region and the country, Ochsner Health is currently experiencing an influx of viral pediatric respiratory illnesses," Dr. William Lennarz, pediatrics system chair of Ochsner Health, told ABC News in a statement.
"Our Emergency Department volumes have seen an increase due to the flu virus and other normal seasonal respiratory viruses like RSV," Lennarz said. "We are closely monitoring cases of respiratory illness and have a model in place to accommodate increased patient numbers and resources needed to care for these patients."
The Boston area, meanwhile, has seen a similar spike in pediatric respiratory illnesses.
"Reduced population-wide immunity, the dropping of COVID mitigation efforts and increased mixing in schools and daycares is likely responsible for driving the surge in pediatric cases of acute respiratory illness both in our region and nationally," Boston Children's Hospital chief innovation officer and ABC News contributor Dr. John Brownstein said, adding the challenges of emergency department and inpatient capacity, alongside staff shortage, are "only adding more fuel to this fire."