Health Desk

The Two-Way
8:55 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

NYC Ebola Patient Declared Free Of Virus, Will Be Discharged From Hospital

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio talked about Dr. Craig Spencer last month at a news conference, and has another one set for Tuesday which Spencer will attend, Ebola-free.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Dr. Craig Spencer, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in New York City, has been declared free of the virus and will be released from the hospital, according to a statement from the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation:

"After a rigorous course of treatment and testing, Dr. Craig Spencer — the patient admitted and diagnosed with Ebola Disease Virus at HHC Bellevue Hospital Center — has been declared free of the virus. Dr. Spencer poses no public health risk and will be discharged from the hospital tomorrow, Tuesday, November 11th."

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Goats and Soda
5:03 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

A Smartphone Gadget Pumps Up Breast-Milk Banks

Newborn in an incubator at Greytown Hospital in South Africa in 2009.
Wendy Stone Courtesy of PATH

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 9:37 am

Breast-milk banks are a great way to help babies whose mothers aren't able to breast-feed. Breast milk, in case you didn't know, does a better job than formula at bolstering a baby's immune system, especially if the tot is premature or underweight.

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The Salt
4:56 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

How Much Sugar Is Too Much? A New Tool Sheds Some Light

The average American consumes the equivalent of 19.5 teaspoons a day in added sugars, but there are no federal guidelines recommending a limit.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 4:09 pm

These days, sugar is pretty much everywhere in the American diet. A new initiative from the University of California, San Francisco spells out the health dangers of this glut of sugar in clear terms.

For the project, called SugarScience, a team of researchers distilled 8,000 studies and research papers and found strong evidence that overconsumption of added sugar contributes to three major chronic illnesses: heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and liver disease.

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All Tech Considered
4:09 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

HealthCare.gov's Tech Improvements Mean You Can Now Window Shop

Consumers can window shop on HealthCare.gov leading up to open enrollment, which starts Saturday.
AP

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 7:59 am

HealthCare.gov barely worked when it launched last fall, with only six people able to enroll in a plan on opening day.

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Children's Health
4:09 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Thousands Of Kids Sickened By Laundry Pods That Are Hard To Resist

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 11:37 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Detergent pods are dangerous for young children. That's the message out today from a group of poison experts. For the first time, the researchers documented the hazards posed by these increasingly popular products.

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Shots - Health News
4:09 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

These X's Are The Same Shade, So What Does That Say About Color?

This is a re-creation of a color plate from Interaction of Color, by Josef Albers. The two X's are are exactly the same — it's the different backgrounds that make them look like very different colors.
Source: Josef Albers Interaction of Color

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 4:33 pm

Learning to name the colors is a ritual of childhood. At first kids have no clue; often they'll just say everything is "boo." Pretty soon, though, they can rattle off Roy G. Biv with aplomb. Still, that doesn't mean they understand what color actually is.

Mark Fairchild, who studies color and vision science at the Rochester Institute of Technology, says that even physicists get it wrong when they confidently assert that color is just a wavelength of light.

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Shots - Health News
2:35 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Kidney Dialysis Company Expands Into The Hospital Business

Dialysis giant DaVita HealthCare Partners is moving into the hospital business.
Courtesy of DaVita HealthCare Partners

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 6:08 pm

Critics of America's health care system say it's really a "sick care" system. Doctors and hospitals only get paid for treating people when they're sick.

But that's starting to change. Health insurance companies and big government payers like Medicare are starting to reward doctors and hospitals for keeping people healthy.

So, many health care companies are trying to position themselves as organizations that help people stay well.

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The Salt
2:01 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

How 'Double Bucks' For Food Stamps Conquered Capitol Hill

These wooden tokens are handed out to shoppers who use SNAP benefits to purchase fresh produce at the Crossroads Farmers Market near Takoma Park, Md. Customers receive tokens worth twice the amount of money withdrawn from their SNAP benefits card — in other words, they get "double bucks."
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 11:52 am

The federal government is about to put $100 million behind a simple idea: doubling the value of SNAP benefits — what used to be called food stamps — when people use them to buy local fruits and vegetables.

This idea did not start on Capitol Hill. It began as a local innovation at a few farmers' markets. But it proved remarkably popular and spread across the country.

"It's so simple, but it has such profound effects both for SNAP recipients and for local farmers," says Mike Appell, a vegetable farmer who sells his produce at a market in Tulsa, Okla.

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Shots - Health News
12:24 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

California Nurses Say They'll Strike, Without Talking Wages

A nurse at the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco protests lack of Ebola preparedness in October. The issue will be the focus of national demonstrations Wednesday.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

As many as 18,000 nurses in Northern California are preparing for a two-day strike that will start Tuesday. Nurses plan to leave their posts at 7 a.m. and picket outside 21 Kaiser Permanente medical centers and clinics.

The placards nurses carry and the chants they repeat will say little about salaries or pensions. No economic proposals have even been put on the bargaining table yet.

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Shots - Health News
11:14 am
Mon November 10, 2014

5 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Obamacare

Look no farther for the top things to watch out for when shopping for health insurance on the online marketplaces.
Giorgio Magini iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 4:03 pm

The second open enrollment season for health insurance offered through marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act is just around the corner. Are you ready?

Here's a quick checklist for people who don't get their health insurance at work and plan to shop for coverage on the health law's online exchanges. Enrollment starts Nov. 15, but you can start kicking the tires now.

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The Two-Way
4:43 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Study: Detergent Pods Can Harm Children Who Play With Them

Laundry detergent makers recently introduced miniature packets, but doctors across the country say children are confusing the tiny, brightly colored packets with candy and swallowing them.
Pat Sullivan Associated Press

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 6:58 am

It's generally a good idea to have the number of the poison control center handy. That's an even better plan if you have laundry detergent and small children at home.

For decades, poison centers received many calls each year about children swallowing laundry detergent or getting it in their eyes. That problem has gotten worse due to new highly concentrated single-load liquid laundry detergent packets.

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Goats and Soda
2:06 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Ebola Today Could Mean Illiteracy Tomorrow In West Africa

Mariama and Fomba Kanneh play in an open space in Barkedu, Liberia. With schools closed across the country, many kids spend their time playing outside every day.
Tommy Trenchard for NPR

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 9:05 am

Ebola is threatening to reverse years of educational progress in West Africa. The virus has kept school closed for months in a part of the world where literacy rates are low and school systems are only now recovering from years of civil war.

In Liberia, many children have been put to work while schools are closed, and Ebola is hurting the economy, says Laurent Duvillier, a communication specialist at UNICEF. The fear now, he says, is that many of these children will never return to school.

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Shots - Health News
2:03 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Combining The DNA Of Three People Raises Ethical Questions

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 4:03 pm

In a darkened lab in the north of England, a research associate is intensely focused on the microscope in front of her. She carefully maneuvers a long glass tube that she uses to manipulate early human embryos.

"It's like microsurgery," says Laura Irving of Newcastle University.

Irving is part of a team of scientists trying to replace defective DNA with healthy DNA. They hope this procedure could one day help women who are carrying genetic disorders have healthy children.

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The Two-Way
10:09 am
Sun November 9, 2014

Maine Nurse To Move Out Of State Following Ebola Quarantine Row

Kaci Hickox and her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur, say they will leave Maine when their self-monitoring for Ebola expires this week.
Robert F. Bukaty AP

Originally published on Sun November 9, 2014 2:28 pm

The boyfriend of Kaci Hickox, the nurse who defiantly refused to self-quarantine after she returned from West Africa, says the couple will move out of Maine this week after a state court order restricting their movement expires.

Ted Wilbur withdrew from a nursing program at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, where the couple lives, and said Friday that he and Hickox were "going to try to get our lives back on track" by leaving the state.

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Africa
6:49 am
Sun November 9, 2014

Hand-Pumped Anesthesia Could Help With Surgeries In The Dark

Originally published on Sun November 9, 2014 11:13 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Goats and Soda
6:03 am
Sun November 9, 2014

Reggae Vibe, Ebola Message: African Superstars Try To Go Viral

Mariam and Amadou, both from Mali, add their voices to the song "Africa Stop Ebola."
Sia Kambou AFP/Getty Images

It's the biggest Ebola song yet.

Just as stars like Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder came together in 1985 to sing "We Are the World" and raise money for Ethiopian famine relief, 12 acclaimed African musicians have united to marry music and message.

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Health
4:51 pm
Sat November 8, 2014

Obese Women Make Less Money, Work More Physically Demanding Jobs

A recent study found obese women are more likely than other women to work physically demanding jobs, like the kind that call for hard hats. They're less likely to work in jobs that require a lot of interaction with clients and customers — jobs that, on average, make more money.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Sun November 9, 2014 6:34 am

Being overweight hurts your earnings, and being an overweight woman is particularly tough on income. Back in 2004, a landmark study found that a 65-pound increase in a woman's weight is associated with a 9-percent drop in earnings. The authors of the study noted that, in terms of wages, the "obesity penalty" basically amounted to losing three years of experience in the workplace.

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Law
3:54 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Supreme Court Agrees To Hear New Health Law Challenge

A counselor for the health care law speaks with taxi driver David Bilewu, a 39-year-old Nigerian immigrant in Chicago. Illinois set up its exchange through a federal partnership.
M. Spencer Green AP

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 7:11 pm

In a rare and unexpected move, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a new challenge to the Obama health care overhaul, dealing the White House yet another blow this week. Health care experts say an adverse ruling would be catastrophic for the health insurance program that the president has fought to enact and preserve.

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Shots - Health News
3:21 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Transgender Men Who Become Pregnant Face Social, Health Challenges

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 4:03 pm

"Pregnancy and childbirth were very male experiences for me," said a 29-year-old respondent in a study reported Friday in Obstetrics and Gynecology. "When I birthed my children, I was born into fatherhood."

If this statement at first seems perplexing, it's less so when you realize the person talking is a transgender man – someone who has transitioned from a female identity to a male or masculine identity.

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Shots - Health News
1:46 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

In Surprise Move, Supreme Court Takes On Fate Of Obamacare Again

Time for a replay?: Protesters waited outside the Supreme Court for decisions in June.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 2:48 pm

Once again the Supreme Court will decide whether the Affordable Care Act lives or dies.

Defying expectations, the court announced Friday it has agreed to hear a case that challenges the heart of the law: subsidies that help people pay their insurance premiums. In about three dozen states, the federal government runs the online marketplaces (exchanges) where individuals can find health plans.

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The Salt
1:23 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Can A Smell-Emitting Fork Alter How We Savor Flavor?

The "Aroma R-evolution" kit comes with four forks and 21 vials full of aromas like olive oil, mint and smoke. You drop a dab of scented liquid onto the base of the fork, and the smell is supposed to subtly flavor the food you eat while using the utensil.
Claire Eggers NPR

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 4:22 pm

The flavors we savor are never just about taste.

Our taste buds allow us to distinguish the basic characteristics of food, like sweet, salty, bitter and sour. But we use our noses to sense more subtle flavors. Our sense of smell is what allows us to savor fine wines, delicately seasoned broths and complex curries.

So is it possible to trick our brains into thinking we're tasting something, when we're only just smelling it?

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Shots - Health News
11:12 am
Fri November 7, 2014

Electronic Medical Records, Built For Efficiency, Often Backfire

A survey of more than 400 doctors asked how electronic medical records had affected their free time on the job. The answers weren't pretty.
NPR

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 1:38 pm

Electronic medical records were supposed to usher in the future of medicine.

Prescriptions would be beamed to the pharmacy. A doctor could call up patients' medical histories anywhere, anytime. Nurses and doctors could easily find patients' old lab results or last X-rays to see what how they're doing. The computer system could warn doctors about dangerous drug combinations before it was too late.

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Goats and Soda
8:30 am
Fri November 7, 2014

Guinea Is Seeing More Ebola Cases: Can The Trend Be Stopped?

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 1:08 pm

In the current Ebola crisis, much of the focus has been on Liberia and Sierra Leone. But the virus also continues to spread in Guinea, where the first case in the current outbreak was identified in March.

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Shots - Health News
2:27 am
Fri November 7, 2014

How A Tilt Toward Safety Stopped A Scientist's Virus Research

Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome virus particles cling to the surface of an infected cell.
NIAID/Flickr

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 3:27 pm

As cases of a worrisome respiratory virus continue to pop up in the Middle East, scientists who study it in the U.S. are struggling to understand how they'll be affected by a government moratorium on certain kinds of experiments.

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Shots - Health News
4:37 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Flu Season Brings Stronger Vaccines And Revised Advice

Which flu vaccine should you get? That may depend on your age and your general health.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 5:33 pm

The symptoms of the flu are familiar: fever, chills, cough, congestion, feeling very, very tired. If you're a healthy adult under 65, you'll most likely recover in a week or two.

But for those older than 65, things can get worse fast, says Dr. H. Keipp Talbot, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University.

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Politics
3:43 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Republicans' First Order Of Business May Be Chipping Away At Obamacare

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 5:33 pm

Now that the Republicans control the House and Senate, they've got their eyes on the Affordable Care Act. Which parts will President Obama veto and which parts will he inevitably have to give up? Melissa Block talks to Mary Agnes Carey, a senior correspondent for Kaiser Health News.

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Global Health
1:13 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

In Liberia, Ebola Makes 'Pariahs' Out Of The Sick, Says NYT Reporter

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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Goats and Soda
11:51 am
Thu November 6, 2014

You're Growing Older ... Is Your Life Getting Better Or Worse?

A Kenyan senior citizen leans on his cane. As people age in parts of Africa, they report declining levels of satisfaction with their life.
Roberto Schmidt AFP/Getty Images

Robert F. Kennedy once said that GDP, or gross domestic product, "measures everything ... except that which makes life worthwhile."

GDP, in case you weren't paying attention in Econ 101, looks at economic activity as a way to size up how a country is doing.

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Shots - Health News
11:31 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Fewer Babies Are Born Prematurely, But Many Still Suffer

The March of Dimes gives the United States an overall "C" grade in preventing preterm births.
Courtesy of The March of Dimes Foundation

The number of babies born too early dropped to 11.4 percent of all births in 2013, the best number in 17 years.

But that's still more than 450,000 children being born too early. Those babies face in increased risk of death, and those who survive are more likely to have problems including intellectual disability, vision or hearing loss, cerebral palsy and breathing trouble.

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Goats and Soda
10:46 am
Thu November 6, 2014

If You Think You'll Never See A Poem About Malaria, You're Wrong

Poet Cameron Conaway (left, in gray cap) visits malaria-hit areas in the Chittagong Tract Hills, Bangladesh, in June 2012.
Courtesy of Cameron Conaway

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 12:46 pm

Before traveling to Thailand in 2011, American poet Cameron Conaway viewed malaria as many Westerners do: a remote disease summed up by factoids:

It's borne by mosquitoes.

Half the world's population — 3.4 billion people — is at risk of catching it.

The disease claims 627,000 lives a year – that's one death every minute.

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