Health Desk

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Illinois State Police

The state’s heroin crisis has captured headlines and the attention of lawmakers. But in the past few years, the number of methamphetamine lab busts has crept back up, and law enforcement officials say the drug is also coming into the state from Mexico. 

A handful of scientists around the United States are trying to do something that some people find disturbing: make embryos that are part human, part animal.

The researchers hope these embryos, known as chimeras, could eventually help save the lives of people with a wide range of diseases.

One way would be to use chimera embryos to create better animal models to study how human diseases happen and how they progress.

Perhaps the boldest hope is to create farm animals that have human organs that could be transplanted into terminally ill patients.

As the population of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder keeps growing, so does the number of people with that diagnosis who aren't finding employment.

Though many young adults on the spectrum are considered high functioning, recent research shows 40 percent don't find work — a higher jobless rate than people with other developmental disabilities experience.

Single mothers, untenured professors, young reporters and on-call doctors might have a thin silver lining for their hurried days and response for the people who insist on slowing down: All that hustling may translate into superior brain power as you get older, as a study finds that the busiest people perform best on cognitive tests.

Everyone in the office was thrilled when Pamela showed up for her first day at DigitalMania Studio, a video game company in Tunisia. She couldn't code. She was worthless as a beta tester. She had a habit of farting and urinating on people who annoyed her. But wow, could she moo.

"And we got used to the smell," says Sami Zalila, DigitalMania's communications manager.

Pamela's job? Prove to skeptics that the company really would give a cow to the top scorer of Bagra the Game.

A single question asked at an annual checkup — whether parents have trouble making ends meet — could help pediatricians identify children at risk for serious health problems associated with poverty and the chronic levels of stress that often accompany it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges members to ask if their patients' families are struggling financially and then commit to helping them get the resources they need to thrive. And some communities are trying to make that happen.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Before I had a child, I only occasionally set foot in the many parks in our neighborhood. Now I spend so much time in them that I can tell you about every swing set, picnic table and unfenced patch of grass within a two-mile radius. Also the location and cleanliness quotient of every park restroom.

Scientists and doctors say the case is clear: The best way to tackle the country's opioid epidemic is to get more people on medications that have been proven in studies to reduce relapses and, ultimately, overdoses.

Yet, only a fraction of the more than 4 million people believed to abuse prescription painkillers or heroin in the U.S. are being given what's called medication-assisted treatment.

Last week's episode of The Mindy Project finally addressed a lingering criticism of the show — that it doesn't explore Mindy's "otherness." In it, Dr. Mindy Lahiri — the character played by series creator Mindy Kaling — goes on a date with an Indian man named Neel. He is, as Mindy admits to him, the first Indian guy she's gone out with. She also tells him she knows little about the place her parents came from.

South Africa is said to be a country where rape is "highly prevalent" – that's the finding of a comprehensive 2011 report compiled by several universities. According to police statistics released in September, there were nearly 54,000 sexual offenses in the year running from mid-2014 to mid-2015.

And this spring, Facebook has sparked two big stories about attitudes toward rape.

When insurers pull out of the health law marketplaces, will customers buying plans outside those exchanges lose access, too? And do families have to meet two deductibles if each spouse has a separate insurance plan? Here are the answers.

A man moves to a city in Florida and decides he wants to be mayor. He wins the election. He's happy. Then he's told his city is slowly going underwater. Not financially. Literally.

James Cason had settled in Coral Gables, a seaside town near Miami, six years ago. He ran for mayor on the Republican ticket and, soon after he won, heard the lecture by scientists about sea level rise and South Florida that left him flabbergasted.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR — together with member stations from across the country — has been reporting on troubles with the Veterans Choice program, a $10 billion plan created by Congress two years ago to squash long wait times veterans were encountering when going to see a doctor. But as we reported in March, this fix needs a fix.

The jet sitting at Air Hollywood's studio near the Burbank airport in Southern California was once the charter plane of the Los Angeles Lakers. These days, it serves a much different role — mostly as the set for movies and TV commercials.

But the group walking on board the day I recently visited wasn't there to film a scene. They were part of a two-day class for fearful fliers.

For participant Ronnie Michel, it was the first time in six years that he'd seen the inside of a plane.

Mosquito season is just getting underway. And many parts of the country have mosquitoes that could potentially transmit Zika.

Health officials expect to see cases here in the next few weeks. So we decided to figure out who needs to break out the bug spray and what other precautions they should take.

By now, you've probably heard that pregnant women — and those trying to get pregnant — face the biggest danger when it comes to Zika. The virus can cause devastating brain damage in fetuses at any point during a pregnancy.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

When it comes to the issue of religious rights versus no-cost contraception, the only thing the Supreme Court could agree on was not to decide.

In an unsigned opinion issued Monday, the court sent a series of cases back to a raft of federal appeals courts, with instructions for those courts and the parties in the lawsuits to try harder to work things out. "The Court expresses no view on the merits of the cases," the opinion said.

Feminine products are having a moment. With some calling for a red wave to take the taboo out of menstruation, politicians across the country are trying to make tampons and sanitary pads as affordable and accessible as possible.

Five states have eliminated sales taxes on pads and tampons: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland and Minnesota. In New York, a bill awaits the governor's signature, and other efforts to improve access to sanitary products are underway.

As researchers work to understand the human genome, many questions remain, including, perhaps, the most fundamental: Just how much of the human experience is determined before we are already born, by our genes, and how much is dependent upon external environmental factors?

Oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross the answer to that question is complicated. "Biology is not destiny," Mukherjee explains. "But some aspects of biology — and in fact some aspects of destiny — are commanded very strongly by genes."

Pork shoulder, cauliflower and cheese curds are all trending in 2016, according to Google's tracking of food-related searches. That list might either nauseate you or make your mouth water.

What's the best way to help out someone in need? Just give money? Or try to make sure they'll spend the money effectively?

That's a dilemma that's faced anyone confronted by someone begging on the street. And it's an international problem as well. When rich countries give aid to poor countries, how do they know the money will go to good use?

The Millennium Challenge Corporation has come up with one strategy. MCC, as it's called, is a U.S. government foreign aid agency created by Congress in 2004 to fight global poverty.

Many veterans are still waiting to see a doctor.

For Tim Goliver and Luther Glenn, the worst illness of their lives started in the same way — probably after having a stomach bug.

Copyright 2016 WABE-FM. To see more, visit WABE-FM.

Pages