Health Desk

Shots - Health News
7:27 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Fake Morning-After Pills Found In Peru May Hint At Bigger Problem

Fake morning-after pills are often indistinguishable from the real ones.
Rob Felt Georgia Tech

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 8:39 am

A survey of emergency contraceptives in Lima, Peru, turned up worrying results: More than a quarter were either counterfeit or defective.

Some of the morning-after pills tested contained too little of the active ingredient, or none at all. Other pills contained another drug altogether, researchers reported Friday in the journal PLOS ONE.

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Shots - Health News
4:42 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

One Scientist's Quest To Vanquish Epileptic Seizures

The dream of epilepsy research, says neurobiologist Ivan Soltesz, is to stop seizures by manipulating only some brain cells, not all.
Steve Zylius UC Irvine Communications

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 6:13 pm

In the early 1990s, a young brain researcher named Ivan Soltesz heard a story that would shape his career.

His adviser told him about a school for children whose epileptic seizures were so severe and frequent that they had to wear helmets to prevent head injuries. The only exception to the helmet rule was for students who received an award.

"The big deal for them is that they can take the helmet off while they're walking across the stage," Soltesz says. "And that thing struck me as just wrong."

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Shots - Health News
11:46 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Pot Smoke And Mirrors: Vaporizer Pens Hide Marijuana Use

Vaporizer pens look like the e-cigarettes that dispense nicotine. But these devices are optimized for a potent marijuana resin with high concentrations of THC.
Courtesy of Grenco Science

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 6:46 am

It's a sunny afternoon at Kelly's Collective, a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, and Nikki Esquibel is getting stoned. But you wouldn't know it.

The 19-year-old, who has a medical prescription for marijuana, is "smoking" pot with a handheld vaporizer, or a vape pen. It's sleek, black, and virtually indistinguishable from a high-end e-cigarette.

That's the point, says Esquibel. "I use it mostly around my neighborhood. It's easy to hide." The vapor coming from the device doesn't even have much of an odor.

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Shots - Health News
6:05 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Why Mumps And Measles Can Spread Even When We're Vaccinated

Potent but not perfect: Medical assistant Elissa Ortivez prepares a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine at a clinic in Walsenburg, Colo.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Sat April 19, 2014 12:25 pm

More than two months ago, a nasty mumps virus triggered fever, headache and painfully swollen glands among a handful of students at Ohio State University. Now the outbreak has ballooned to 234 cases at last count, and has spilled into the surrounding community in Columbus, Ohio.

"Columbus officials are calling it the city's biggest outbreak since the development of the mumps vaccine in the 1940s," WOSU reporter Steve Brown tells Shots. "It even pushed them to open a new clinic."

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Politics
4:18 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Updated Obamacare Enrollment Exceeds Estimates

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 10:10 am

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

After that agreement was reached yesterday, President Obama sounded pretty skeptical that it would actually ease tensions in Ukraine.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: My hope is that we actually do see follow-through over the next several days. But I don't think, given past performance, that we can count on that.

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Law
4:03 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

When Being Pregnant Also Means Being Out Of A Job

While many women continue to work with little change in their duties while pregnant, others find that pregnancy can be a career liability.
Yuri Arcurs iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 7:06 pm

The workplace has become a more understanding place for pregnant women or new moms these days. Many companies now have lactation rooms and offer more liberal maternity and paternity leave policies than in years past.

But for some women, pregnancy can still be a career liability.

Heather Myers was fresh out of high school and working at a Wal-Mart in Salina, Kan., in 2006 when she found out she was pregnant. She kept a water bottle with her on the sales floor, as her doctor recommended. Then, her supervisor intervened.

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Health Care
3:23 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Following Enrollment Deadline, Health Care Focus Turns To States

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 7:06 pm

President Obama met Thursday with insurance company executives and a separate group of insurance regulators from the states, discussing their mutual interest in administering the new health care law.

The Two-Way
3:22 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Obama: Affordable Care Act Enrollment Hits 8 Million

President Obama speaks about health care on Thursday. ACA enrollment has reached 8 million, he said, and it's "well past time" for Republicans to stop trying to repeal it.
Carolyn Kaster AP

President Obama says that enrollment under the Affordable Care Act has reached 8 million after the March 31 sign-up deadline was extended by two weeks.

"This thing is working," he told reporters at a White House briefing on Thursday.

The president said that 35 percent of those signing up through the federal government's website were under the age of 35. The need for younger, healthier individuals to enroll in the program is considered vital to the success of Obamacare.

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Shots - Health News
2:46 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Got A Hobby? Might Be A Smart Professional Move

Physicist Albert Einstein found great joy in his hobby — playing the violin.
Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 8:31 am

Maybe you paint, keep a journal or knit. Or maybe you play bass in a punk rock band.

Whatever hobby you have, keep at it. A little study published this week suggests that having a creative outlet outside the office might help people perform better at work.

Psychologists from San Francisco State University found that the more people engaged in their hobbies, the more likely they were to come up with creative solutions to problems on the job. And no matter what the hobby was, these people were also more likely to go out of their way to help co-workers.

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Shots - Health News
1:14 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

First Embryonic Stem Cells Cloned From A Man's Skin

This mouse egg (top) is being injected with genetic material from an adult cell to ultimately create an embryo — and, eventually, embryonic stem cells. The process has been difficult to do with human cells.
James King-Holmes Science Source

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 11:20 am

Eighteen years ago, scientists in Scotland took the nuclear DNA from the cell of an adult sheep and put it into another sheep's egg cell that had been emptied of its own nucleus. The resulting egg was implanted in the womb of a third sheep, and the result was Dolly, the first clone of a mammal.

Dolly's birth set off a huge outpouring of ethical concern — along with hope that the same techniques, applied to human cells, could be used to treat myriad diseases.

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Krulwich Wonders...
12:57 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

'Why Am I Dead?' He Never Asked. Here's The Answer He Never Heard

Robert Krulwich NPR

Shara Yurkiewicz is a med student. She's doing rounds now, moving from department to department. Much of what she sees, she's seeing for the first time. Not yet a doctor, there are moments, many moments when she has the eyes of a patient. She gets scared. She feels helpless. She's too involved. She's at that place in her training where everything is so sharp, so new, she feels the full, fresh stab of it, and sometimes, very privately, she bleeds.

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Health Care
10:49 am
Thu April 17, 2014

'Miserable' Doctors Prescribe A Different Career

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 11:38 am

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. It used to be that doctor was a profession many people aspired to - it brought prestige, money of course, a sense of purpose, bragging rights for your parents. But now a growing number of physicians say it's not really all it's cracked up to be.

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Media
10:49 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Why Did Vanity Fair Give 'Belfies' A Stamp Of Approval?

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 11:38 am

"Selfie" may have been the 2013 word of the year. But "belfies," or "butt selfies" are now in the spotlight. We learn more about why they earned a fitness model a spread in Vanity Fair magazine.

Shots - Health News
2:29 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Polio Hits Equatorial Guinea, Threatens Central Africa

A child receives a polio vaccine Sunday in Kano, Nigeria. The country is the primary source of the virus in Africa but appears to be making progress against the disease; the current outbreak in Cameroon that has spread to Equatorial Guinea came by way of Chad, not Nigeria.
Sunday Alamba AP

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 6:41 am

Health officials are worried.

After being free of polio for nearly 15 years, Equatorial Guinea has reported two cases of the disease.

The children paralyzed are in two distant parts of the country. So the virus may have spread widely across the small nation.

The outbreak is dangerous, in part, because Equatorial Guinea has the worst polio vaccination rate in the world: 39 percent. Even Somalia, teetering on the brink of anarchy, vaccinates 47 percent of its children.

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Health Desk
6:07 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Unmet Needs: Living With Mental Illness In Central Illinois

Debra and Zach Medlyn
Credit Sean Powers

According to federal labor statistics, there are more psychiatrists working in Illinois than most states, with the bulk of that service concentrated in the Chicagoland area. But mental health providers say there are major gaps in service across Illinois, especially downstate. 

Zach Medlyn, 27, of Champaign did not start hearing the voices until about seven years ago, when he was a student at the University of Illinois.

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Health Desk
5:40 am
Mon April 14, 2014

"Making Sense Of Obamacare" Lecture At UIS

Prof. Ted Marmor
Credit Brandeis.edu

Ted Marmor has studied the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.  The author and Professor Emeritus at Yale sees both good and bad with the new law.

"My overall view is simple. That it's a very confusing piece of legislation, not very well explained," he said.

"It perpetuates the cost and complexity of American medical care. But it makes some improvement in the availability of health insurance and the protection of some Americans from being devastated by expensive hospital stays and expensive pharmaceutical treatment."

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Shots - Health News
5:03 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Why My Wife Didn't Choose A Double Mastectomy

Originally published on Wed April 9, 2014 6:51 pm

Yet another entertainment figure has gone public with her decision to have a double mastectomy after a breast cancer diagnosis. Samantha Harris is the latest in a series of entertainers who've decided on that surgery as treatment for the disease.

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Shots - Health News
3:08 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Medicare Pulls Back The Curtain On How Much It Pays Doctors

New data show how much individual physicians received in 2012 from Medicare.
Medicare.gov

Originally published on Thu April 10, 2014 1:20 pm

Medicare's release Wednesday of records of millions of payments made to the nation's doctors comes as the government is looking to find more cost-efficient ways to pay physicians, particularly specialists.

The federal government published data tracing the $77 billion that Medicare paid to physicians, drug-testing companies and other medical practitioners throughout 2012, and the services they were being reimbursed for.

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Shots - Health News
2:28 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Gut-Eating Amoeba Caught On Film

Not nice: A gut-eating amoeba (green) nibbles on a live human cell (purple) under the microscope. The parasite chews on the cell before killing and discarding it.
Courtesy of Katy Ralston

Originally published on Thu April 10, 2014 3:26 pm

Most of us have heard of the brain-eating amoeba. You know, the little guy that crops up in neti pots and backyard swimming holes every now and then.

Now let me introduce you to its cousin: the gut-eating amoeba.

This nasty critter can wreak havoc in your intestinal tract and cause a dreadful case of food poisoning that may last months or years.

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Technology
11:54 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Seniors Find Connection, Support In Technology

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now we'd like to talk about seniors and technology. And when I say that, what comes to mind? Is it you helping grandma figure out how to Skype or is it the savvy grandma of all those TV commercials of late who tweet and blog about what's going on?

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Shots - Health News
9:11 am
Wed April 9, 2014

WHO Calls For High-Priced Drugs For Millions With Hepatitis C

Advocates demonstrate in favor of cheaper generic drugs to treat hepatitis C in New Delhi on March 21. The disease is common among people who are HIV positive.
Saurabh Das AP

Originally published on Wed April 9, 2014 10:27 am

Authors of the first-ever global guidelines for treating hepatitis C went big Tuesday, advocating for worldwide use of two of the most expensive specialty drugs in the world.

The new guidelines from the World Health Organization give strong endorsement to the two newest drugs. Gilead Sciences' Sovaldi costs $1,000 per pill, or $84,000 for a 12-week course of treatment. Olysio, sold by Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit, costs $66,360 for a three-month course.

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The Two-Way
7:55 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Dose Of Caution Prescribed When Evaluating New Medicare Data

Data released Wednesday about Medicare payments to doctors in 2012 have raised questions, but some experts warn against drawing "sweeping conclusions" from the numbers.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed April 9, 2014 3:05 pm

The headlines about one of Wednesday's big stories — the release of data from 2012 about Medicare payment to doctors around the nation — are certainly serious sounding:

-- "Sliver of Medicare Doctors Get Big Share of Payouts." (The New York Times)

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Around the Nation
4:18 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Calif. Medical Center Offers Cure To Indigenous Language Barrier

Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 9:17 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Salinas, California is known as the Salad Bowl of the World. Nearly a third of the world's lettuce is grown there. Many of the areas agriculture workers are from Mexico. They speak, not just Spanish, but also indigenous languages, like Triqui, Mixtec and Zapotec. For hospitals having interpreters is essential but many of them speak just Spanish. There's one medical center trying to accommodate the indigenous languages. Their approach could be useful elsewhere in the country.

Krista Almanzan from member station KAZU reports.

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Shots - Health News
2:33 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Lessons Learned For 2015 From This Year's Obamacare Sign-Ups

Maritza Martinez worked with an insurance agent at a kiosk in a Miami mall to find the right health insurance plan for 2014.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 9, 2014 10:32 am

President Obama was thrilled last week when he was able to announce that more than 7 million people have signed up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

"This law is doing what it's supposed to do," the president said in the Rose Garden. "It's working."

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Shots - Health News
4:55 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Wave Of Newly Insured Patients Strains Oregon Health Plan

Cheryl Stumph goes over paperwork with a medical worker. She finally has health insurance to take care of her family's medical needs.
Kristian Foden-Vencil for NPR

Originally published on Wed April 9, 2014 4:24 am

Millions of Americans who didn't have health insurance last year now do because of the Affordable Care Act.

In Lane County, Oregon, Trillium Community Health Plan is struggling to deal with a huge influx of new patients looking for health care. CEO Terry Coplin says the company figured 26,000 people would sign up in the first few years. Instead, about that many signed up right off the bat.

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Shots - Health News
4:46 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

The Forgotten Childhood: Why Early Memories Fade

Francis Csedrik remembers details of being bonked hard on the head when he was 4, and having to go to the emergency room.
Meg Vogel NPR

Originally published on Wed April 9, 2014 5:13 am

Francis Csedrik, who is 8 and lives in Washington, D.C., remembers a lot of events from when he was 4 or just a bit younger. There was the time he fell "headfirst on a marble floor" and got a concussion, the day someone stole the family car ("my dad had to chase it down the block"), or the morning he found a black bat (the furry kind) in the house.

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Shots - Health News
4:46 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

The Ebola Outbreak 3 Weeks In: Dire But Not Hopeless

The new normal in Guinea is washing hands with a mixture of water and bleach--shown here at the border entrance of Buruntuma, in the Gabu area on Tuesday.
Tiago Petinga EPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 9:15 pm

Guinea is on high alert. At the international airport, travelers' temperatures are monitored for signs of infection. In the capital city of Conakry, people rarely shake hands and are advised to regularly wash their hands with bleach-diluted water.

This is what life is like nearly three weeks after an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

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Parenting
11:36 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Vaccinating Children: Who Gets To Decide?

Originally published on Tue April 8, 2014 11:49 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but maybe you just need a few moms and dads in your corner. Every week, we check in with a diverse group of parents for their common sense and savvy advice.

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Shots - Health News
11:01 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Global Aid For Health Hits Record High As Funding Sources Shift

A pregnant Somali woman gets a tetanus shot at a clinic in Mogadishu in 2013. The vaccination initiative was launched by the GAVI Alliance, UNICEF and the World Health Organization.
Carl de Souza AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 8, 2014 2:58 pm

International development aid has hit an all-time high, despite some nations dramatically slashing their foreign assistance budgets. As patterns of international assistance shift, an increasing amount of money is being invested in improving health in the developing world.

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Shots - Health News
10:52 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Nevada Offers Rare Deal: Year-Round Sales Of Health Plans

Put your money down and buy insurance — all year long.
Kajdi Szabolcs iStockphoto

For months, consumers have been warned that they have to buy health insurance by the end of open enrollment or remain uninsured until next year. But a little noticed provision of the health law may give some consumers another chance.

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