Health Desk

Weeks before school started in Olathe, Kan., earlier this month, the town's school district began its annual effort to get low-income students signed up for dental checkups.

When parents register at the elementary schools that serve the district's poorest students, they are asked whether their children have a dentist. "And if they say no, we say, 'We have a program in our school — a dentist is coming to our school this year,' " says health services director Cynthia Galemore.

How Well Do War And Women's Health Mix?

Aug 20, 2015
Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Elizabeth Buchbinder is a doctor at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She specializes in melanoma or skin cancer, and she joins me now. Dr. Buchbinder, welcome to the program.

ELIZABETH BUCHBINDER: Thanks - great to be here.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Can Health Care Be Cured Of Racial Bias?

Aug 20, 2015

Jane Lazarre was pacing the hospital waiting room. Her son Khary, 18, had just had knee surgery, but the nurses weren't letting her in to see him.

"They told us he would be out of anesthesia in a few minutes," she remembers. "The minutes became an hour, the hour became two hours."

She and her husband called the surgeon in a panic. He said that Khary had come out of anesthesia violently — thrashing and flailing about. He told Lazarre that with most young people Khary's age, there wouldn't have been a problem. The doctors and nurses would have gently held him down.

When former President Jimmy Carter spoke at the American Museum of Natural History in New York this past January, the 90-year-old's bright blue eyes seemed to grow even more intensely blue, as he stood tall and spoke with the crisp command of a much younger man.

Does This Phylum Make Me Look Fat?

Aug 20, 2015

We would all love a simple weight-loss plan. Beyond carbs and fats, some studies have hinted that a key group of gut microbes — from the phylum Firmicutes — might be more common among people who are overweight.

Thinner people, these studies suggest, might have more bacteria from the phylum known as Bacteroidetes. Maybe we just need to reestablish a Bacteroidetes-favoring gut to more easily lose weight, some people have said. A stack of diet books has already jumped on the notion.

The Ebola epidemic has entered a new phase. And it's a good one.

For the first time since the virus hit Sierra Leone, the country hasn't had a single new case in a week, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

And over in Guinea and Liberia, the situation is also looking up. This week Guinea reported only three new cases, while Liberia hasn't had a case in more than a month.

Copyright 2015 WYPR-FM. To see more, visit http://www.wypr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The spread of opiate addiction in this country is a huge national trend made up of thousands of individual stories, many of them tragic.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

One of the most prestigious names in health care is taking a stand on food.

This week, Cleveland Clinic announced it would sever ties with McDonald's. As of Sept. 18, the McDonald's branch located in the Cleveland Clinic cafeteria will turn off its fryers and close its doors for good. Its lease will not be renewed.

A deal struck between drugmakers AbbVie and United Therapeutics Wednesday set a record price for a voucher that can be redeemed for a fast-track review of a new medicine by the Food and Drug Administration.

AbbVie, marketer of Humira and AndroGel, has agreed to pay $350 million to United Therapeutics, a company specializing in treatments for rare diseases, for a ticket to the regulatory fast lane.

It looks like a regular hardcover book, though in an eye-catching shade of orange with an even catchier title: The Drinkable Book.

Norovirus is a huge public health problem, sickening as many as 21 million people a year in the U.S. But for all the gastric distress it causes, there are still some basic, unanswered questions about the virus.

One biggie: When an ill person vomits, does norovirus become aerosolized? That is, can an ill person's vomiting launch tiny viral particles into the air, where they might waft into your mouth or onto surfaces that you would later touch?

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug designed to increase a woman's libido.

The controversial decision was hailed by some doctors and advocates as a long-sought victory for women's health, but was condemned by others as irresponsible and dangerous.

High Cost Of Diabetes Drugs Often Goes Overlooked

Aug 18, 2015

When it comes to treating chronic conditions, diabetes drugs aren't nearly as sexy as say, Sovaldi, last year's breakthrough hepatitis C drug that offers a cure for the chronic liver infection at a price approaching six figures.

Yet an estimated 29 million people in the U.S. have diabetes — about 10 times the number of people with hepatitis C — and many of them will take diabetes drugs for the rest of their lives. Cost increases for both old and new drugs are forcing many to scramble to pay for them.

The report that ISIS is forcing girls as young as 12 to become sex slaves is part of a larger issue. In the world today, an estimated 2 million underage girls work in the sex trade.

Remember so-called death panels?

When Congress debated the Affordable Care Act in 2009, the legislation included a provision that would have allowed Medicare to reimburse doctors when they meet with patients to talk about end-of-life care.

But then Sarah Palin loudly argued that such payments would lead to care being withheld from the elderly and disabled.

Her assertions greatly distressed Dr. Pamelyn Close, a palliative care specialist in Los Angeles.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Siri is just the beginning.

Soon enough — like it or not — we are all going to be talking a lot more with computers, at least according to Brian O'Neill, a professor of computer science at Western New England University. They will be tutoring our students and tending to us in our old age. And a big part of their job will be telling stories.

The assortment of microbes in a pregnant woman's vagina appears to play a role in her chances of giving birth prematurely, new research suggests.

The study of 49 pregnant women, published in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that those who had a diverse array of microbes were more likely to give birth prematurely.

Many illnesses are contagious. You'd do well to avoid your neighbor's sneeze, for example, and to wash your hands after tending to your sick child.

But what about mental illness?

The idea that anxiety, autism or major depression could be transmitted through contact may sound crazy — and it probably is. There's a lot we don't know about the origins of mental illness, but the mechanisms identified so far point in other directions.

I'm driving through a frozen world, where the roads are paved in ice. As I swerve left to avoid a miniature iceberg, a red fish flashes at the top of my screen. I'm supposed to tap all the red fish that pop up, but not the green fish or the blue. And I have to do this without crashing the car.

An unidentifiable, omnipresent game-meister says: "Doing one thing at a time is easy, but doing them both at the same time is where the magic happens!"

Indiana was hit with an outbreak of HIV/AIDS this spring, and it got a lot of attention because it is so exceptional.

Our perception of HIV/AIDS has changed since the disease emerged in the early 1980s. There are all kinds of treatments and resources — things that simply didn't exist when the epidemic began.

A new clinical trial is set to begin in the United Kingdom using the powerful noses of dogs to detect prostate cancer in humans.

While research has been done before, these are the first trials approved by Britain's National Health Service.

The trials, at the Milton Keynes University Hospital in Buckinghamshire, will use animals from a nonprofit organization called Medical Detection Dogs, co-founded in 2008 by behavioral psychologist Claire Guest.

The latest numbers show that deaths from heroin-related overdose more than tripled nationally between 2002 and 2013. Opiate addiction touches every demographic: white, black, Hispanic, rural, suburban and urban.

Proposed solutions nationally include more government funding for treatment, tougher penalties for dealers, and proactive interventions to stop people before they start.

When parents lose a child, there are rituals to mark their grief — holding funerals, sitting shiva, bringing casseroles. But when that loss happens before birth, it often isn't marked. Sometimes, it's barely even mentioned. It's different in Japan, which has a traditional Buddhist ceremony that some Americans are adopting as their own.

Pages