Health Desk

Shots - Health News
4:50 am
Sat June 7, 2014

A Small Device Helps Severely Nearsighted Drivers Hit The Road

A view of Interstate 65 in Alabama through bioptic lenses, which allow people who are severely nearsighted to drive.
Dan Carsen WBHM

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 7:22 am

On an interstate heading into Birmingham, Ala., Dustin Jones merges a small white SUV into the flow of traffic. This might seem unremarkable, but Jones has a genetic condition that reduces his long-distance vision. Driving safely hadn't been an option for him, but now, with the help of a little device called a bioptic telescope, it is.

"Life without the ability to drive is exponentially harder," Jones says. "It's just very difficult to do anything at all."

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Shots - Health News
2:18 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

R U Ready To Quit Smoking? Texting Can Help

Want a cig? Researcher Lorien Abroms displays a sample Text2Quit message.
William Atkins George Washington University

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 7:22 am

Smokers who want to quit have all sorts of tools at their disposal: call lines, nicotine patches, medication, friends, doctors. And now, texts.

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Shots - Health News
12:15 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Early Exposure To Bacteria Protects Children From Asthma And Allergies

To keep children healthy, it may take a city that's dirty in just the right way.
Carey Kirkella Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 2:57 pm

Babies who are exposed to both bacteria and allergens in the first year of life are less likely to develop asthma and allergies, a study finds.

It's the latest wrinkle in the hygiene hypothesis — the notion that exposure to bacteria trains the infant immune system to attack bad bugs and ignore harmless things like pollen and cat dander.

But what's interesting about this study is that it gets specific; not just any old germs or allergens will do.

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Law
11:58 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Should Tweens Be Prosecuted As Adults?

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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The Salt
11:27 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Can Farmed Fish Feed The World Without Destroying The Environment?

Carp are collected at a breeding farm near the Belarus village of Ozerny in November 2013. Researchers say there's a lot the aquaculture industry can do to be more efficient.
Viktor Drachev AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 7:19 am

We Americans love our fried shrimp, our sushi and our fish sticks. And a lot of other people around the world count on fish as a critical part of their diet, too. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, fish now accounts for almost 17 percent of the world's intake of protein — in some coastal and island countries it's as high as 70 percent.

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Health Desk
4:57 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

St. John's Hospital To Lay Off 43 Managers

Credit St. John's Hospital

St. John's Hospital in Springfield has announced it will lay off 43 managers over the next few months.  

President and Chief Executive Charles Lucore  says cutting management costs will help preserve the quality of patient care.  

The (Springfield) State Journal-Register quotes him as saying the decision was driven by financial pressures from the Affordable Care Act as well as the lower reimbursements.  

The 43 positions represent about 1 percent of the hospital's workforce.  

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Shots - Health News
4:17 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Quick DNA Tests Crack Medical Mysteries Otherwise Missed

Doctors used a rapid DNA test to identify a Wisconsin teen's unusual infection with Leptospira bacteria (yellow), which are common in the tropics.
CDC/Rob Weyant

Originally published on Sat June 7, 2014 8:07 am

Researchers are developing a radical way to diagnose infectious diseases. Instead of guessing what a patient might have, and ordering one test after another, this new technology starts with no assumptions.

The technology starts with a sample of blood or spinal fluid from an infected person and searches through all the DNA in it, looking for sequences that came from a virus, a bacterium, a fungus or even a parasite.

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Shots - Health News
2:02 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Taking More Time Between Babies Reduces Risk Of Premature Birth

Being born prematurely increases the risk of lifelong health problems.
AndyL/iStockphoto

Originally published on Sat June 7, 2014 8:07 am

An ideal pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. And it looks like there's also an ideal time between pregnancies.

The length of time between giving birth to one baby and getting pregnant with the next should be 18 months or more. Women who get pregnant sooner than that are more likely to have a premature baby.

Women who got pregnant within a year of giving birth were twice as likely to have that new baby born prematurely, a study finds, compared with women who waited at least 18 months.

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Shots - Health News
1:07 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

The GPS In Your Head May Work A Lot Better Than That Phone

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 10:11 am

If I tell you to make your way to NPR's headquarters from the NOMA Metro stop a few blocks away, odds are you'll get yourself here, no problem. But how?

By using two GPS systems in the brain, one that determines the direct distance to the destination, and another that calculates the twists and turns you'll need to take along the way.

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Shots - Health News
10:46 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Saudi Arabia To Test Camels And Livestock For MERS

A worker wears a mask as he touches a camel at his employer's farm on May 12, outside Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Fayez Nureldine AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 10:11 am

OK, so now we know for sure that camels can, in fact, transmit the virus that causes the Middle East respiratory syndrome to humans.

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Thu June 5, 2014

The Birds And The Bees ... And iPads

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 12:03 pm

"The talk." The facts of life. The birds and the bees. Whatever you call it, do you remember when and how you first learned about human sexuality? For me, it was a series of conversations in school and with my parents that began in third grade with the classic picture book Where Did I Come From?.

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The Salt
2:29 am
Thu June 5, 2014

The Secret's In The Sugar: Lower-Alcohol Wines Are Taking Off

A selection of low-alcohol wines, including a Riesling from Germany, a Vinho Verde from Portugal and a Txakoli from the Basque region of Spain.
Meredith Rizzo NPR

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 7:18 am

Big, bold wines have their fans. But with the arrival of summer, make room for a bumper crop of lighter, more subtle wines.

"Low-alcohol wines are super hot right now," says wine writer Katherine Cole.

There's Txakoli, or Txakolina, wines from the Basque region of Spain, Rieslings from Germany and New York state, and Vinho Verde from Portugal, to name a few.

These wines typically hover in the 9 percent to 11 percent alcohol range. This compares to about 13 percent to 14 percent in a typical California chardonnay.

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Shots - Health News
5:35 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

The Camel Did It: Scientists Nail Down Source Of Middle East Virus

A Saudi Arabian man wears a mask to protect against the Middle East respiratory syndrome at his farm outside Riyadh, May 12.
Fayez Nureldine AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 3:40 pm

In the two years since Middle East respiratory syndrome was first diagnosed in people, scientists have struggled to figure out how we catch the deadly virus. Some blamed bats. Others pointed at camels.

Now scientists in Saudi Arabia offer the strongest evidence yet that the one-humped dromedaries can indeed spread the MERS virus — which has infected more than 800 people on four continents, including two men in the U.S.

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Shots - Health News
4:05 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Doctors Hesitate To Ask Heart Patients About End-Of-Life Plans

Michael Jung iStock

Of the 5 million Americans with failing hearts, about half of them will die within five years of getting diagnosed. Given the odds, it seems that people with heart failure should start thinking about how they want to die.

But doctors don't routinely talk to those patients about end-of-life planning.

When researchers asked 50 doctors and 45 nurse practitioners and physician assistants how often they discuss preparing for death with their heart failure patients.

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Shots - Health News
3:45 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Privacy Law Frustrates Parents Of Mentally Ill Adult Children

Mark, a California minister, says the day he was first shut out of all treatment discussions regarding his mentally ill teenage son "was the first time we really started to feel hopeless."
Jenny Gold Kaiser Health News

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 3:40 pm

The horrifying mass shooting in Isla Vista, Calif., last month brought up many questions. What could parents have done to prevent the tragedy? And what did they actually know about their son's mental illness?

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Shots - Health News
2:36 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

VA Health Care's Chronic Ailments: Long Waits And Red Tape

Soldiers returning from the Pacific wave from the deck of the USS General Mitchell on Dec. 11, 1945. Much of the health care demand in the VA system is from veterans of earlier wars.
AP

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 4:40 pm

More than 2.5 million veterans served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they qualify for health care and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. These recent vets have been putting in for more service-related conditions than previous generations, for everything from post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injury to the bad knees, bad backs and bad hearing that nearly every new vet seems to have.

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Shots - Health News
8:50 am
Wed June 4, 2014

For New College Grads, Finding Mental Health Care Can Be Tough

Finding a good therapist can take time, especially in a new city.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 3:41 pm

For many young people, college graduation marks the entry into what grown-ups call "the real world." But if you're a new graduate with a mental health condition, the transition can be especially challenging.

Many young people start managing their own health care for the first time when they graduate. And while finding and paying for a psychologist or psychiatrist can be difficult at any age, for young people who don't have steady jobs or stable paychecks, the task can be especially daunting. Perseverance and planning ahead help.

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Krulwich Wonders...
6:03 am
Wed June 4, 2014

How Chocolate Might Save The Planet

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 11:11 am

When you unwrap it, break off a piece and stick it in your mouth, it doesn't remind you of the pyramids, a suspension bridge or a skyscraper; but chocolate, says materials scientist Mark Miodownik, "is one of our greatest engineering creations."

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The Salt
5:04 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Norovirus: Far More Likely To Come From Restaurant Than Cruise Ship

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 10:49 pm

If you follow the news on nasty, contagious norovirus, you might assume that the place you're most likely to get it is on a cruise ship. For one, there was that outbreak earlier this year when a group of passengers got sick with severe vomiting and diarrhea on a Royal Caribbean boat.

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Shots - Health News
4:45 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Can Civilian Health Care Help Fix The VA? Congress Weighs In

Sen. John McCain discussed the Veterans Choice Act at a news conference on Tuesday, with fellow Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 7:03 pm

Veterans across the country are still waiting too long for medical care, a situation that drove the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki last week.

Now Republicans and Democrats in Congress are competing to pass laws they think will fix the problem of medical wait times and other problems at the VA. The discussion over how to reform veterans' health care is starting to sound familiar.

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Shots - Health News
4:28 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

A Cut That Won't Heal Transforms One Woman's View Of Obamacare

Tammy Boudreaux tries a tendon-stretching drill after surgery. Boudreaux was able to get much of her operation and rehabilitation covered by the insurance plan she bought via the Affordable Care Act.
Carrie Feibel

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 11:07 am

When we first met Tammy Boudreaux, a freelance social worker in Houston, last December, she was still weighing her health insurance options.

She told us she was overwhelmed and confused by the choices she was finding on HealthCare.gov. And the high deductibles of the Obamacare plans didn't seem like such a great deal. But when we checked back in with Boudreaux this month, we learned that a chance encounter with a bottle of hot sauce ultimately changed her mind.

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Shots - Health News
12:23 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

The Health Data Revolution Enters An Awkward Adolescence

Gimma a "D!" The Health Datapalooza crowd went wild for this selfie by Bryan Sivak, chief technology officer at Health and Human Services.
Bryan Sivak Twitter

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 4:11 pm

The crowd in a hotel ballroom in Washington, D.C., was rocking on Monday, the 2,000 people shrieking with excitement over federal health-care databases. That could only happen at Health Datapalooza, the annual summit for data geeks, doctors, researchers and patients who want to use data to transform health care — or at least make a buck.

Both of those goals are proving to demand a lot more than just coming up with a nifty API and getting the venture capitalists to buy in.

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The Salt
12:23 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Could A 6-Cent Tax Sour Us On Soda And Sugary Drinks?

A mock-up of a warning label for sodas and sugary drinks proposed in California by public health advocates.
California Center for Public Health Advocacy

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 4:34 pm

These days, sugar may be the new tobacco.

With so many studies linking Americans' collective sweet tooth to diseases including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity, there's a lot of talk about policies to nudge consumers to consume less sugar.

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Money Coach
12:09 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Layoff 101: Don't Blame Yourself

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN: I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Now it's time for our weekly conversation about personal finance - one of our money coach conversations. We've been hearing that the economy is slowly but surely picking up, which means that finally people are getting hired again. But in some industries, people are still getting laid off. And unfortunately, we know a little bit about that ourselves.

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Health
12:09 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

'Wait To Worry' About Challenges

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN: As we've just heard, being fired or losing your job is something that a lot of people have had to worry about in recent years. But our next guest has some advice for those of us who tend to worry a lot about life's what-ifs. That advice is to wait. Columnist Steven Petrow recently wrote about his epiphany and learning how to wait to worry for The Washington Post. In the piece, he talked about how he decided to stop worrying about stuff that hadn't even happened yet. Steven Petrow is with us now. Welcome back. Thanks so much for joining us once again.

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Shots - Health News
10:17 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Despite Law, Rape Victims Sometimes Pay For Medical Services

The effects of a sexual assault can be long-lasting, but the medical bills aren't supposed to be.

Yet a study published recently finds that despite federal efforts to lift that burden from rape victims, a hodgepodge of state rules mean some victims may still be charged for medical services related to rape, including prevention and treatment of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.

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Research News
4:05 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Playtime With Mom Helps Boost Toddlers' Under-Developed Brains

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 10:29 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now we have a story about the power of play. Some 200 million toddlers in poor countries are starting life with an extra burden. Because of malnourishment or disease, these kids are small for their age and their brains are underdeveloped. The consequences of this can haunt them into adulthood. But here's some positive news - there's a study in the journal Science suggesting that more play time with parents can dramatically reverse the damage suffered by these kids. NPR's Nurith Aizenman reports.

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Education
4:47 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Do Autistic Kids Fare Better In Integrated Or Specialized Schools?

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 3:03 pm

The federal law that governs special education lays out the goals pretty clearly: Students are entitled to an appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.

But some parents of children with autism feel their local public schools aren't meeting their kids' needs. And with autism diagnoses rising, new schools are emerging specifically for autistic children.

Some parents see these specialized schools as a godsend. For others, they raise a new set of questions.

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Shots - Health News
3:36 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Bursts Of Light Create Memories, Then Take Them Away

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 3:38 pm

You can't just open up a living brain and see the memories inside.

So Roberto Malinow, a brain scientist at the University of California, San Diego, has spent years trying to find other ways to understand how memories are made and lost. The research — right now being done in rats – should lead to a better understanding of human memory problems ranging from Alzheimer's to post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Shots - Health News
3:19 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Odds Of Abuse And Mistreatment Add Up Over Children's Lives

Maltreatment in childhood raises the risk of physical and mental health problems throughout life.
RenoCdZ iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 11:33 am

Children who are maltreated are much more likely to have physical and mental health problems later on. They face a higher risk of suicide and of getting in trouble with the law.

But there's a big gap between the number of people who say they were abused or neglected as children and the official rate of annual confirmed cases, which runs about 1 percent.

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