Health Desk

Shots - Health News
5:57 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Birds Of A Feather Aren't Necessarily Related

The updated avian tree shows how many different kinds of birds evolved quickly after a mass extinction 66 million years ago.
AAAS/Carla Schaffer

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 4:25 pm

What do a pigeon and a flamingo have in common? Quite a bit, according to a reordering of the evolutionary tree of birds.

One of a series of studies published Thursday in Science is the latest step toward understanding the origins of the roughly 10,000 bird species that populate our planet.

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The Salt
5:10 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Kalettes, Broccoflower And Other Eye-Popping Vegetables For 2015

Broccoflower was originally grown in Holland and hit the U.S. market in 1989. It's remained a relatively specialty item since then, but culinary experts say it may soon become more widely available.
Brand X Pictures Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 5:22 pm

Does a cross between Brussels sprouts and kale sound like your vegetable dream come true? Maybe so, if you're someone who's crazy for cruciferous vegetables and all the fiber and nutrients they pack in.

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Goats and Soda
4:11 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

You Don't Want To Monkey Around With Monkey Malaria

In Southeast Asia, the battle against malaria is growing even more complicated. And it's all because of monkeys, who carry a form of malaria that until a few years ago wasn't a problem for people.

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Shots - Health News
4:02 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

U.Va. Looks At Ways To Curb Drinking At Its Frat Houses

The University of Virginia is trying to crack down on excessive and underage drinking at fraternities.
Jay Paul Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 12:58 pm

The University of Virginia is renegotiating its contract with fraternities, which were suspended after a Rolling Stone article described a frat house gang rape. Even though that article has been called into question, U.Va.

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Shots - Health News
4:01 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Football Players Drill Without Helmets To Curb Concussions

Making and taking a hit chest to chest, instead of skull to skull, is easier to remember if you're not wearing a helmet, say University of New Hampshire Wildcat football players.
Jack Rodolico New Hampshire Public Radio

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 6:49 pm

The University of New Hampshire Wildcats are heading into a do-or-die quarterfinal football game this week against the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.

And whether they win or not, there's one thing you can say about the Wildcats: They are likely the only football team in America trying to reduce concussions by practicing without helmets.

Football has a concussion problem, from the National Football League down to Pee-Wee teams. And there are lots of efforts out there to fix it.

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Goats and Soda
3:35 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

As Ebola Cases Drop, Liberia's Soccer Fans Are Back In The Zone

At the Arsenal video club, men sit shoulder to shoulder. But some still say it's too dangerous to go in because of Ebola.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 6:13 pm

The sun has set in Liberia's eastern border town of Ganta, and the red dirt roads are humming with motorbikes and boomboxes.

As Ebola starts to lose ground in the West African country, life is slowly returning to normal. Liberia's nightlife, which stalled after officials declared a state of emergency in early August, is gradually picking up. And the hangouts where Liberians pay a small fee to watch soccer are once again packed with fans.

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Shots - Health News
3:00 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Unexpected Joint Pain Seen In Test Of Experimental Ebola Vaccine

A shipment of experimental Ebola vaccine is opened at a hospital in Geneva.
Mathilde Missioneiro AP

Two potential Ebola vaccines are currently being tested in people, to see if they're safe and to figure out the best dose.

Both trials have encountered some of the typical travails of vaccine research.

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Shots - Health News
9:54 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Does Snoring Leave Tots More Vulnerable To Childhood Obesity?

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 6:36 am

A solid night's sleep does more than recharge a growing brain — it may also help keep a growing body lean.

Breathing problems or a chronic lack of sleep early in life may double the risk that a child will be obese by age 15, according to research published Thursday in The Journal of Pediatrics.

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Shots - Health News
6:44 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Debunking Vaccine Myths Can Have An Unintended Effect

Would it help you to know that your worries about the flu shot are unfounded? Perhaps not.
Darron Cummings AP

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 6:35 am

Remember back in October when I debunked 32 myths about the flu vaccine here?

Research published since then suggests my efforts might have been in vain, at least in part.

The post might have changed some minds, but it seems unlikely to have led legions of people to race to get vaccinated.

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The Salt
4:52 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

From Potatoes To Salty Fries In School: Congress Tweaks Food Rules

When it comes to salty french fries or pizza served at lunch, schools may get more time to dial back sodium content, thanks to a provision in the federal spending bill headed for a vote on Capitol Hill.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 10:00 am

The gargantuan budget bill that lawmakers on Capitol Hill are expected to vote on Thursday does more than dole out federal dollars to keep the government running.

It also tweaks federal nutrition rules.

For starters, the bill — aka, the 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill — includes a provision that will give school food directors more flexibility when it comes to adopting 100 percent whole grain items, such as pasta and biscuits, in school breakfast and lunch meals.

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Goats and Soda
4:25 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Boredom On The Border Between Liberia And Guinea

The bright yellow steel truss bridge over St. John's River is the official border crossing between Liberia and Guinea. The Liberian-Guinean border has been closed since the early days of the Ebola outbreak.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 8:38 am

They're from the same ethnic group. They speak the same language. And they live on both sides of the Liberia-Guinea divide in the area around Liberia's eastern border city of Ganta, in Nimba County. The families straddle the border, which is not fenced.

"Right over there is the border," says businessman Prince Haward, directing our attention to some rubber farms not too far away. "Those are the rubber farms you find in Guinea."

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Shots - Health News
3:59 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Making The Human Condition Computable

David Goldhill (second from left) talks with Dan Hilferty of Independence Blue Cross, Kevin Nazemi of Oscar Insurance and Sam Nussbaum of WellPoint in a conversation about health costs. Moderator Avik Roy is at far left.
Glen Davis Forbes

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 4:03 pm

For centuries, the central challenge in health care was ignorance. There simply wasn't enough information to know what was making a person sick, or what to do to cure them.

Now, health care is being flooded with information. Advances in computing technology mean that gathering, storing and analyzing health information is relatively cheap, and it's getting cheaper by the day. As computers continue to fall in price, the cost of sequencing a single person's genome is tumbling, too.

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Shots - Health News
10:31 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Doctors Lag In Adopting Cheaper, Faster Radiation For Breast Cancer

Radiation therapy is effective in treating breast cancer but typically requires dozens of visits over five to seven weeks. A newer protocol takes just three weeks.
Antonia Reeve Science Source

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 7:54 pm

Radiation treatment for breast cancer could take less time and cost less for many women, but doctors aren't putting that knowledge into practice, a study finds.

And one reason is that the doctors in charge of radiation treatment will make less money, according to Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a study author and chairman of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Shots - Health News
8:21 am
Wed December 10, 2014

A Crowd Of Scientists Finds A Better Way To Predict Seizures

Mathematician Phillip Adkins (left) and Drew Abbot, a software engineer at AiLive. They were members of the winning team.
Courtesy of Phillip Adkins

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 7:12 am

An online contest for data scientists has produced a great leap forward in efforts to predict when someone with epilepsy is going to have a seizure. The winning team used data on electrical activity in the brain to develop an algorithm that predicted seizures 82 percent of the time.

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Shots - Health News
3:54 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Scientists Often Skip A Simple Test That Could Verify Their Work

When the wrong cells take over, scientists' experiments can be derailed.
Chris Nickels for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 4:34 pm

There's a simple test that scientists could use to make sure the cells they're studying in the lab are what they think they are. But most of the time, academic scientists don't bother.

That omission is a problem. One study found that between 18 percent and 36 percent of all cell lines have been misidentified. And this kind of mistaken identity is one reason that many results from experiments run in scientific labs can't be reproduced elsewhere.

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Goats and Soda
6:44 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Why Aren't World Leaders Angrier About Violence Against Women?

Bafana Khumalo (in black jacket) carried his fight for "gender justice" to the White House today. He called on the U.S. to help fund abortions for women in other countries who've been raped.
Courtesy of Dean Peacock

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 7:58 pm

On this cold and rainy Tuesday, Bafana Khumalo stood in front of the White House with a controversial demand for President Obama: The U.S. should provide foreign aid to fund abortions for women who've been raped during conflicts and in other circumstances. Currently, the 1973 Helms Amendment prohibits the use of foreign aid money for abortions as "family planning." About 200 protesters joined Khumalo.

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Shots - Health News
4:16 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

This Nursing Home Calms Troubling Behavior Without Risky Drugs

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 4:34 pm

It's a sunny autumn afternoon and a good time to make apple crisp at Pathstone Living, a memory care facility and nursing home in Mankato, Minn. Activities staffer Jessica Abbott gathers half a dozen older women at a counter in the dining area, where the soundtrack is mostly music they could have fox-trotted to back in the day.

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Africa
3:49 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Officials Hope To Use Ebola To Build Africa's Health Care Capabilities

Community workers build an Ebola clinic on Nov. 8 in Lokomasama, near Port Loko, Sierra Leone. The community decided to organize and fight the disease — building a holding center for suspected cases, enforcing a travel ban. It created a $100 fine for a handshake and a $200 fine plus six months in jail for an illegal burial.
Francisco Leong AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 7:06 pm

Ebola has killed thousands, caused hundreds of millions of dollars in economic devastation and set off a global panic. But aid officials are hoping it also may help to address long-festering shortcomings in West Africa's health care systems.

Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea all suffer a dearth of doctors, a lack of supplies and training, and a concentration of clinics in cities rather than in the rural areas where many people still live. Those same problems have thwarted global attempts to eliminate quieter killers, like malaria and tuberculosis, in poor countries.

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Politics
3:26 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Advocate's Comments On ACA Now A Liability For Law's Supporters

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 5:47 pm

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

Goats and Soda
1:20 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

A Case Of Mistaken Identity Sends Healthy Boy To An Ebola Ward

A health worker, wearing a personal protective equipment, returns to her ambulance on November 11, 2014 after tranporting a patient to the Hastings treatment center in Hastings, outside Freetown, the only run exclusively by locals.
Francisco Leong AFP/Getty Images

As part of Sierra Leone's broader effort to contain the deadly Ebola virus, the country opened a new ambulance dispatch center in September in the capital, Freetown. Along with a new Ebola hotline, the center is considered an important step forward in the war on Ebola.

But on the center's second day of operation, a series of errors put the life of an apparently healthy 14-year-old boy at risk.

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Shots - Health News
12:43 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Wellness At Work Often Comes With Strings Attached

Originally published on Sun December 14, 2014 9:05 pm

If you get health insurance at work, chances are you have some sort of wellness plan, too. But so far there's no real evidence as to whether these plans actually improve the health of employees.

One thing we do know is that wellness is particularly popular with employers right now, as they seek ways to slow the rise of health spending. These initiatives can range from urging workers to use the stairs to requiring comprehensive health screenings.

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Goats and Soda
12:28 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

'Ebola Must Go' — And So Must Prejudice Against Survivors

Members of the community in New Georgia Signboard greet President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Monday for the launch of the Ebola Must Go! campaign.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 1:55 pm

A visitor brought Ebola to the community of New Georgia Signboard this summer, and by the middle of August, people were sick with the virus.

Six people died. But it's what the community did for the six survivors in the family that brought Liberia's president to New Georgia Signboard, where she launched her Ebola Must Go! campaign on Monday

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Shots - Health News
4:11 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Mistaken Identities Plague Lab Work With Human Cells

Georgetown's Robert Clark says it's very difficult to say precisely how many experiments have been spoiled by contaminated cell lines.
Phil Humnicky Courtesy of Georgetown University

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 6:55 pm

There's a major flaw in many medical research studies that seems so basic that you'd think scientists would be smart enough to avoid it.

It turns out that cells studied in the laboratory often get mixed up. A researcher who thinks she is studying breast cancer cells might in fact be using melanoma cells.

It's a surprisingly common problem — even in some of the top scientific labs.

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Politics
4:00 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Obamacare Adviser Gets Set To Go In Front Of Congressional Firing Squad

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

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

Shots - Health News
2:35 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Nursing Homes Rarely Penalized For Oversedating Patients

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 5:26 pm

Antipsychotic drugs have helped many people with serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. But for older people with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia, they can be deadly. The Food and Drug Administration has given these drugs a black box warning, saying they can increase the risk of heart failure, infections and death. Yet almost 300,000 nursing home residents still get them.

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Global Health
3:58 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Ebola Is Down, But Not Out, In Liberia

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 9:49 am

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Goats and Soda
2:11 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Ebola Cases Are Down, So Should Liberians Stop Worrying?

To ward off Ebola, a worker washes his hands at a construction site in Monrovia.
Pascal Guyot AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 9:42 am

For months, Liberia was the country worst-hit by the Ebola outbreak. But the wards in Liberia's Ebola treatment units now stand virtually empty. The number of newly reported cases fell from almost 300 cases a week in mid-September to fewer than 100 by mid-October.

But that doesn't mean it's time to take it easy. In fact, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has just announced a new campaign, Ebola Must Go, which focuses on the role of the community.

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Shots - Health News
12:47 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Despite Decline, Elective Early Births Remain A Medicaid Problem

The proportion of elective early deliveries under Medicaid has declined but remains a problem.
Health Affairs

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 12:00 pm

Nearly 9 percent of the births covered by Medicaid — or about 160,000 each year — were elective deliveries before 39 weeks of gestation. Early deliveries like those can lead to worse health outcomes for mothers and children and higher costs, according to a study published Monday.

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Goats and Soda
12:13 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Ebola, Schmebola — You Still Have To Look Good!

Zoe Kiadi, 25, says neither unemployment nor the presence of Ebola has dimmed her desire to look nice. What really sets her apart is her hairstyle.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 1:32 pm

Forget Ebola. In Liberia, style is everything.

"Even if poor, even if without a job, Liberians still spend money on clothes. They value appearance over everything," says Muhammed Trawally. The 33-year-old driver is wearing tightly fitted black jeans, sharp Italian-style leather shoes, a crisp orange-and-white striped polo shirt, brown-tinted aviator glasses in a gold-and-white frame and a black Casio watch.

"Looking good is business," he says — a phrase that keeps popping up.

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Goats and Soda
10:43 am
Mon December 8, 2014

When A Stray Dog's In Trouble, Katmandu's Canine Rescuers Jump To It

Ram Nagarkoti responds to emergency calls and brings injured dogs to the triage room at the Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre.
Donatella Lorch for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 9:38 am

The phone calls start in early morning. They are strikingly similar.

"There is an injured dog on the street. Can you take care of it?"

Ram Nagarkoti, the 31-year-old ambulance driver at the Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre (KAT Centre), often spends his days zigzagging through traffic, waving at police officers as he edges across chaotic intersections and squeezing into labyrinthian alleyways to find his patient — one of 20,000 stray dogs in Nepal's capital.

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