Health Desk

Shots - Health News
4:20 am
Sun December 7, 2014

If Slow Is Good For Food, Why Not Medicine?

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 8:05 am

Maybe you've heard about the slow food movement. Maybe you're a devotee.

The idea is that cooking, nutrition and eating should be intentional, mindful and substantive. Avoid fast food and highly processed grub. For the slow food set, the process is as important as the product.

Now I'm seeing a medical version of slow food. The concept is bubbling up in response to industrialized, hypertechnological and often unnecessary medical care that drives up costs and leaves both doctors and patients frazzled.

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All Tech Considered
4:02 pm
Sat December 6, 2014

Is That $1 or $5? Ask This Money Reader For The Blind

After scanning a $1 bill with iBill, a speaker announces, "one dollar."
Claire Eggers NPR

The uniformity of dollar bills is great for shoving them all in your wallet after you buy a sandwich. It's not great, however, if you're one of the over 14 million Americans with vision loss and can't tell the denomination.

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Goats and Soda
5:47 am
Sat December 6, 2014

Idris Elba Plays A Soccer Coach Out To Crush Ebola In New Ad Campaign

In a new public health campaign, British actor Idris Elba plays a soccer coach whose team is squaring off against Ebola.
Courtesy of Africa United

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 11:27 am

The soccer coach is giving his team a pep talk: "This is not an ordinary game," he declares as he paces in the locker room. "This is life or death. Ebola has defeated thousands in West Africa. Its key strength is passing."

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Goats and Soda
3:47 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Liberian President's Ambitious Goal: No New Ebola Cases By Christmas

Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf sits for a portrait before an NPR interview at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Sat December 6, 2014 7:58 am

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf hopes to ring in the holidays with an ambitious goal: no new cases of Ebola in her country by Dec. 25.

"We believe we had to set a target that gave our people hope, a target that would make them more committed to taking all the precautionary measures," she says. "Yes, it's called ambitious, but sometimes you have to take a risk in being ambitious."

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Shots - Health News
3:33 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Delivering Health Care To The Uninsured For $15 A Pop

In the documentary Remote Area Medical, a boy chooses a new pair of glasses after receiving an eye exam.
Remote Area Medical Courtesy of Cinedigm

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 6:31 pm

What happens when you break a leg and you live hundreds of miles from the nearest hospital? Or when you can't afford to get a new pair of glasses because you don't have health insurance?

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The Salt
2:50 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Why Did Vitamins Disappear From Non-GMO Breakfast Cereal?

The Original Grape-Nuts, which now bear a non-GMO label, no longer contain vitamins A, D, B-12 and B-2.
Claire Eggers NPR

Originally published on Sat December 6, 2014 5:18 am

Remember when Cheerios and Grape-Nuts went GMO-free? That was about a year ago, when their corporate creators announced that these products would no longer contain ingredients made from genetically modified organisms like common types of corn, soybeans or sugar beets.

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Goats and Soda
11:19 am
Fri December 5, 2014

Baby's Necklace Could End Up Being A Life Saver

Vikram is the first child to wear a Khushi Baby necklace, which will keep track of his immunizations. He's at a vaccine clinic in Rajasthan, India.
Ruchit Nagar Courtesy of Khushi Baby

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 3:27 pm

Meet Vikram. He's that cute baby in the picture above. Now, take a closer look at his neckwear.

It's traditional for newborns in northern India to wear a black thread necklace as a symbol of good health and good fortune, but Vikram's got a high-tech version. The round pendant on the string is a wearable device called Khushi Baby that carries his vaccination history inside a computerized chip about the size of a dime.

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Shots - Health News
11:15 am
Fri December 5, 2014

What If Sharing Your MRI Was As Simple As Pinterest?

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 8:06 am

Surely I'm not the only person who has gone to the orthopedist figuring that the radiologist sent over the MRI, only to find out that I was supposed to have asked for a CD and a paper copy of the report. Really? That is so last century.

Since I can Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest images with ease, shouldn't I also be able to get my MRI online and share it with my doctors?

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StoryCorps
2:29 am
Fri December 5, 2014

Caring For AIDS Patients, 'When No One Else Would'

Ruth Coker Burks with her friend Paul Wineland. Wineland's partner was one of many AIDS patients Coker Burks has cared for over the past three decades.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 12:07 pm

Ruth Coker Burks was a young mother in her 20s when the AIDS epidemic hit her home state of Arkansas in the early 1980s. She took it upon herself to care for AIDS patients who were abandoned by their families, and even by medical professionals, who feared the disease.

Coker Burks, now 55, has no medical training, but she estimates that she has cared for nearly 1,000 people over the past three decades, including her friend Paul Wineland's partner.

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Goats and Soda
2:26 am
Fri December 5, 2014

World's Slow Response To Ebola Leaves Sierra Leone Villages Scrambling

A worker puts the finishing touches on the dividers that will separate patients at the community care center in the Port Loko district of Sierra Leone.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 11:05 am

If you think the fight against Ebola is going well, here's a grim new number: 537.

That's how many new infections were reported in Sierra Leone in the past week. It's the highest weekly tally in any country since the West African outbreak began.

International governments and aid groups have scrambled to open Ebola treatment centers in the country. But, because of safety concerns, many of these centers are accepting only a fraction of the number of patients they were built to serve.

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Shots - Health News
4:08 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Unhappy Toy Story: Foot-Powered Scooters Drive ER Visits

NPR

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 8:06 am

Vroom! Vroom! Ow!!!!

When it comes to toys that cause serious injuries, those little scooters kids push along with one foot are unique.

A look at trends in injuries that sent kids to the emergency room over more than 20 years shows an Everest-like mountain of problems with ride-on toys, including scooters, that reached its zenith in 2001 — an estimated 109,000 injuries.

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The Salt
4:02 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Who Made That Flavor? Maybe A Genetically Altered Microbe

Mattheos Koffas (left), a biochemical engineer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Andrew Jones, a graduate student in his lab, with a flask of microbe-produced antioxidants.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 7:52 pm

For practically our whole history of cooking and eating, we've gotten our spices and most flavors (not to mention all of the other basic nutrients that keep us alive) straight from plants.

But researchers and biotech companies are starting to produce some of these nutrients and flavors — especially the high-priced ones — in their laboratories.

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Around the Nation
3:07 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Ferguson Psychologist Describes Helping Residents Through Trauma

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 5:47 pm

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Health
3:07 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

This Year's Flu Season Could Be A Bad One

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 5:47 pm

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We may be in for a bad flu season this year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning that today. And as NPR's Rob Stein reports, the reason is the main strain of flu virus that's circulating.

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The Salt
1:08 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Is The Food Babe A Fearmonger? Scientists Are Speaking Out

Vani Hari, known as the "Food Babe," speaks at the Green Festival in Los Angeles on Sept. 12. Hari has made a name for herself by investigating ingredients in Big Food products that she deems potentially harmful. But critics accuse her of stoking unfounded fears.
Jonathan Alcorn Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 14, 2014 9:01 pm

In an age when consumers have become increasingly suspicious of processed food, the Internet has become a powerful platform for activists who want to hold Big Food accountable.

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Shots - Health News
11:07 am
Thu December 4, 2014

CDC Warns That The Flu Season May Be A Bad One

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, got his flu shot in September.
J. David Ake AP

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 6:21 pm

We may be in for a nasty flu season. That's the warning out today from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC is worried because the most common strain of flu virus circulating in the United States is one called H3N2. In previous years, H3N2 strains have tended to send more people to the hospital than other strains — and cause more deaths, especially among the elderly, children and people with other health problems.

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The Two-Way
10:43 am
Thu December 4, 2014

China To End Organ Harvesting From Executed Inmates

Relatives of deceased organ donors mourn for them at a ceremony unveiling a monument for the organ donors in April in Chongqing, China.
Feature China/ Barcroft Media Barcroft Media/Landov

China says it will halt the controversial practice of harvesting human organs for transplant from executed prisoners beginning on Jan. 1 in what The New York Times describes as "the firmest deadline given to date for ending" the practice.

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NPR Story
4:06 am
Thu December 4, 2014

For Ebola Orphans In Liberia, It's A Bittersweet New Beginning

Makutu Jabateh hugs her daughter, Mabana Konneh, 5, as the little girl returns home to her neighborhood in Jacobstown, Monrovia.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 2:57 pm

Ebola has "orphaned" about 2,000 children in Liberia, health authorities say. Some children are being looked after in two shelters in the country's capital, Monrovia. Reuniting the kids with their relatives, or finding them foster homes, can take time.

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Shots - Health News
2:29 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Health Law's Big Tent Still Leaves Some People Out

Andres Cuartas got help from an agent last March when he signed up for health insurance at a Miami mall. In the last year, the percentage of women who are uninsured has dropped more than the percentage of uninsured men.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 6:57 am

A Shots post earlier this week by NPR's John Ydstie detailed the "family glitch" in the Affordable Care Act. That's where people who can't afford their insurance at work aren't eligible for help in the new insurance exchanges. Many of these Americans, most of whom make middling incomes, will remain uninsured.

That story got us wondering: Who else is getting left out by health law? And who is getting coverage?

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Shots - Health News
4:14 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

In New York, Video Chat Trumps Quarantine To Combat TB

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 6:21 pm

Thirty-four-year-old Karim works long days as an investment adviser, and when he doesn't burn the midnight oil, he plays basketball or goes to the gym, hangs out with friends, or heads to coffee shops. You wouldn't know he has an especially tough-to-treat illness.

"I have multiple-drug-resistant tuberculosis," he explains.

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Global Health
4:14 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Liberia President Sets Dec. 25 Goal For No New Ebola Cases

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 9:34 am

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

Transcript

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Goats and Soda
4:08 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

A Tale Of Dueling Ebola Songs: One From Britain, One From Africa

TK
Courtesy of Jean-Christophe Nougaret/MSF

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 2:14 pm

In separate recording studios and separate songs, two groups of international stars have harnessed the power of their voices to help raise awareness of Ebola.

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Shots - Health News
3:22 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

A Drug Might Heal Spinal Injuries By Sparking Nerve Growth

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 1:56 pm

A scientist who chose to ignore the mainstream nearly 30 years ago has found a new way to regenerate nerves in the spinal cord, at least in animals. A drug that Jerry Silver, a professor of neuroscience at Case Western Reserve University, helped design a drug that has allowed paralyzed rats to regain bladder function and even walk.

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Goats and Soda
1:35 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Is HIV Evolving Into A Weaker Virus?

HIV is like a jack-in-the-box: When it binds to a cell, its shell (yellow) pops open, and its genetic material (reds) comes out.
Eye of Science Science Source

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 2:05 pm

Viruses are masters at mutating.

So the big concern with deadly viruses, like Ebola and hepatitis C, is that they will evolve into more dangerous forms over time.

It looks like just the opposite is happening with HIV — although it's happening slowly.

"HIV can generate any mutation in the book, on any day," says virologist Philip Goulder at the University of Oxford.

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Goats and Soda
1:20 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Startling Statistic: Only 8 Patients In Largest Ebola Hospital

A health care worker wheels a stack of freshly washed boots to ELWA 3 Ebola treatment unit in Monrovia, Liberia.
John W Poole NPR

Originally published on Wed December 3, 2014 4:04 pm

Sometimes you stumble across statistics that just scream at you. I was looking this week through some reports on the Liberian Ministry of Health's website. The screaming statistic was an "8" listed as the number of people "currently in treatment" at the ELWA 3 Ebola treatment unit run by Doctors Without Borders in Monrovia.

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Shots - Health News
11:21 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Want To Perk Up Your Love Life? Put Away That Smartphone

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 6:45 pm

Are you reading this after a long day's work, lounging in bed with the love of your life?

If so, I promise I won't feel bad if you stash the phone to take some time to talk in real life.

But if you're still reading, you're probably not alone — 70 percent of women in a recent survey said smartphones were interfering in their romantic relationship.

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Africa
4:17 am
Wed December 3, 2014

U.N. Team Strives To Reach Ebola Emergency Response Goals

Originally published on Wed December 3, 2014 6:41 am

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

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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Around the Nation
4:05 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Texas Death Row Case Draws Attention To Mentally Ill Convicts

Originally published on Wed December 3, 2014 6:41 am

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

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The legal process is scheduled to end in Texas today for Scott Panetti. He's a convicted killer set for execution. He's drawn worldwide attention because he has a 36-year history of chronic schizophrenia. From Dallas, NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports.

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Shots - Health News
2:24 am
Wed December 3, 2014

CDC Considers Counseling Males Of All Ages On Circumcision

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 7:18 am

Draft federal recommendations don't usually raise eyebrows, but this one certainly will — that males of all ages, including teenage boys, should be counseled on the health benefits of circumcision.

In the past 15 years, studies in Africa have found that circumcision lowers men's risk of being infected with HIV during heterosexual intercourse by 50 to 60 percent. Being circumcised also reduces men's risk of infection with the herpes virus and human papillomavirus.

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Goats and Soda
4:57 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

One Village's Story: How Ebola Began And How It Ends

Each day, a nurse comes to this clearing outside Taylortown, Liberia, to sing a song of mourning, preparing the space for the next burial. So far nearly 100 people are interred here.
Kelly McEvers NPR

Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 11:37 am

There's a clearing in the jungle in central Liberia that now serves as an Ebola burial ground. Every day, a woman who works as a nurse in the nearby Ebola treatment unit, or ETU, changes from her scrubs into traditional dress, walks into that clearing and sings a song of mourning.

The song is meant to prepare the space for the dead. There is a burial every day. So far, nearly 100 people have been buried in this clearing. Sixteen are from one village about 45 minutes away, a place called Taylortown, or Taylata in the local dialect.

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