Health Desk

Politics
4:01 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

White House Pushes Next Year's Health Plan Sign-Ups Later

Originally published on Sun November 24, 2013 5:32 pm

Another day brings another delay for the federal health law known as the Affordable Care Act.

On Friday, the Obama administration announced that, starting next year, it is pushing back the start of the sign-up period for those buying individual and small business insurance until mid-November, rather than mid-October. That will give insurance companies some extra time to set their premiums, given this year's difficulties.

And, as some analysts point out, the delay may also ease some political concerns for Democrats.

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Shots - Health News
3:59 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

More Children Are Being Medicated For ADHD Than Before

iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 5:03 pm

The number of children being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And families increasingly are opting for medications to treat kids. Two-thirds of children with a current diagnosis are being medicated — a jump of 28 percent from 2007 to 2011.

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The Salt
1:58 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

This Is What America's School Lunches Really Look Like

Courtesy of DoSomething.org

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 11:08 am

School lunch has never been the stuff of foodie dreams. I'm still haunted by the memory of my elementary school cafeteria's "brain pizza" – a lumpy oval thing topped with fleshy white strips of barely melted mozzarella that clumped together like neurons.

And it looks like America's school cafeterias are still turning out the culinary abominations, judging by the images on Fed Up, a fascinating online project showcasing school lunch photos submitted by students across the country.

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Shots - Health News
12:30 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Eye Makeup Used To Protect Children Can Poison Them Instead

A child wearing the traditional eyeliner kajal peeps from behind a door in Allahabad, India.
Rajesh Kumar Singh AP

Putting black makeup around a baby's eyes is a common tradition across India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some parents think the eyeliner protects the eyes or improves sight.

But two recent lead poisoning cases in New Mexico offer parents another reminder to be extra careful with cosmetics on children's faces.

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Food
12:06 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

A Handful of Nuts, a Lifetime of Benefits?

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. A growing body of evidence has been hinting that nuts - nuts - are good for us. The popular Mediterranean diet emphasizes nuts but, you know, most Americans only eat nuts on occasion. And I'm talking about, oh, that's less than once a week, except for me. I eat them every day, but that's another story.

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Shots - Health News
10:57 am
Fri November 22, 2013

Insomnia Could Raise Risk Of Heart Disease And Death In Men

There's more than one reason to aim for a good night's sleep.
Charles Taylor iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 1:49 pm

There are lots of reasons to aim for a good night's sleep. Sleep helps us retain our memories. It helps our brains get rid of harmful toxins. But sleep might also play a role in heart disease.

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Health Care
4:05 am
Fri November 22, 2013

California Will Not Extend Canceled Health Policies

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 4:45 am

California has rejected President Obama's offer to extend canceled health insurance policies. The board that oversees the state's health insurance marketplace voted unanimously Thursday to let canceled policies expire. The board said it didn't want to confuse consumers and disrupt the state's surge in enrollment.

The Salt
5:11 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Nuts For Longevity: Daily Handful Is Linked To Longer Life

Regular nut consumers had about a 20 percent reduction in all-cause mortality, including lower death rates from heart disease and cancer, a study found.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 2:02 pm

Americans have not always been in love with nuts.

Think about it: They're loaded with calories and fat. Plus, they can be expensive.

But Americans' views — and eating habits — when it comes to nuts are changing. Fast.

There's a growing body of scientific evidence that's putting a health halo over supermarkets' expanding nut aisles.

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The Salt
3:15 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Food Stamp Program Doesn't Guarantee Food Security, Study Finds

A sign in a New York City market window advertises the acceptance of food stamps.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Just as the food stamp program has been hit with funding cuts, a small study out of Harvard has found that the program isn't doing enough to ensure that its participants get a complete and nutritious diet.

The researchers wanted to find out how much the benefits provided through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a critical source of food aid for 47 million needy Americans, improved individuals' food security.

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Shots - Health News
1:13 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Babies Seem To Know Themselves Soon After Birth

Researchers stroked babies' faces with a paintbrush while they watched the same thing happening to a baby in a video. How long the babies in the experiment watched the screen gave clues to what they were thinking.
Courtesy of Maria Laura Filippetti

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 2:20 pm

Understanding you exist as a person happens a lot sooner than you might think.

A study involving 40 cute, pudgy babies found that they were aware of their bodies — and even displayed a sense of ownership of them — less than two days after being born.

Both of those qualities are key ingredients in realizing your own existence, says the study's lead author, Maria Laura Filippetti, a doctoral candidate specializing in cognitive development at Birkbeck College, University of London.

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Shots - Health News
1:04 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Reinventing The Condom With Easy-On Tabs And Beef Tendon

One experimental condom has tabs on either side so it's easier to put on in the dark.
Courtesy of California Family Health Council

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 11:42 am

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On Disabilities
11:49 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Autistic Kids At Risk Of Wandering: How To Keep Them Safe

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
9:42 am
Thu November 21, 2013

A Son's Death Reveals Chasms In Emergency Mental Health Care

A hearse leaves the Deeds family home in Millboro, Va., on Tuesday, after 24-year-old Austin "Gus" Deeds died in an apparent suicide.
Don Petersen AP

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 12:49 pm

Parents who have a child struggling with serious mental illness live in fear that the worst will happen.

The apparent suicide of a young man in Virginia after he allegedly attacked his father, a state senator, shows how difficult it can be for families to get help in the midst of a mental health crisis.

The recession brought deep cuts in states' spending on mental health. The reductions made it harder for people to get help before they're in crisis, mental health advocates say, and even harder to find a hospital bed in an emergency.

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The Salt
9:15 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Remember 'French Fries Cause Cancer'? Here's The Acrylamide Update

French fries: There are probably other reasons besides acrylamide to avoid these tasty snacks.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 2:02 pm

Back in 2002, french fry lovers around the world received a nasty bit of news: Those crunchy, fried strips of potato contained a known carcinogen. Now, all these years later, a new warning from the Food and Drug Administration has consumers once again puzzling over whether to fear the chemical acrylamide.

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Business
5:37 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Obama, State Insurance Commissioners Talk Policy Extensions

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 5:55 am

President Obama met with state insurance commissioners to discuss changes to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Some commissioners are in a difficult spot because their states passed laws that prohibit policies that don't comply with the law. Now, the president says companies can keep offering non-compliant policies for another year if they want to.

NPR Story
4:04 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Medicare Project May Provide Better Care Less Expensively

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 5:55 am

Fort Dodge, Iowa, is not exactly what you'd think of as a hotbed of health care innovation. But the small town in the western part of the state is part of a Medicare pilot project that economists say could be a pathway to the holy grail of health care: providing better care at a lower cost.

Shots - Health News
4:53 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Medicaid Enrollment Is Brisk Despite HealthCare.gov Troubles

Low-income adults formerly had few options for free health care. Leah Sessor had her blood pressure taken on April 14, 2012, during a free clinic at a racetrack in Bristol, Tenn.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 10:16 pm

Buried in the paltry enrollment numbers for the Affordable Care Act that were released last week was something that came as a surprise to many — the success states are having signing people up for the Medicaid program, which provides health care to low-income people.

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All Tech Considered
4:53 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Video Game Creators Are Using Apps To Teach Empathy

A screenshot of the iPad game If, which aims to teach kids how to navigate interpersonal challenges and failures.
NPR

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 8:06 am

Much of the modern education reform movement has centered around the drive for data. Standardized tests now gauge whether children are at grade level seemingly every few months. Kids are observed, measured and sorted almost constantly.

In Silicon Valley, a $20 billion industry does much the same thing — but for a different purpose.

Video game design has become a data-driven industry where games evolve depending on how they are played.

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The Salt
4:17 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Moms-To-Be Are Eating Fish, But Choosing Low-Mercury Options

Based on new research, the EPA concludes that women of childbearing age are making more informed choices and opting for low-mercury seafood choices such as shrimp, canned light tuna and salmon.
JackF iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 7:07 pm

It's been a conundrum for pregnant women: Forgo fish out of fears of mercury? Or eat it up to get the benefits of all the vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids found in many types of fish and shellfish?

Increasingly, it seems women of childbearing age are opting for a smarter option: They're eating fish, but avoiding the species that are high in mercury.

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Shots - Health News
11:19 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Kids Are Less Fit Today Than You Were Back Then

There's a reason she's out there all alone. Children worldwide are spending less time on sports and active play and more time with TVs and video games.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 11:44 am

Children around the world are less aerobically fit than their parents were as kids, a decline that researchers say could be setting them up for serious health problems once they're grown up.

Children today take 90 seconds longer to run a mile than kids did 30 years ago, according to data from 28 countries. Children's aerobic fitness has declined by 5 percent since 1975.

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Politics
11:09 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Obamacare Crashes President's Polls, Does It Matter?

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 12:34 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, it's been nearly 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was murdered in Dallas. Many people still remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news. We asked Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights icon, for his memories of the day. And we'll also look at the bigger picture of John F. Kennedy's role in The Civil Rights Movement. That's coming up.

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Health Desk
7:03 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Illinois Regulators Looking For Health Scams

(AP) Illinois regulators are on guard for con artists trying to profit from the nation's new health care law, and they've already shut down one suspicious operation and a lookalike website.  

The state Department of Insurance reported on its fraud prevention efforts Tuesday to a governor's task force on the law's rollout in Illinois.

Legitimate trained counselors are helping people sign up for health insurance. They must pass a background check to be certified to do the work.  

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Politics
3:44 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Obama Concedes Botched Insurance Website Rollout Cost Time

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 6:34 am

The Obama administration is asking for people who've been turned off by the government's problem-plagued insurance website to come back. Officials say the website is working better now, though it's still far from fixed.

Around the Nation
3:40 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

New York City Raises Smoking Age From 18 To 21

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 4:54 pm

New York City raised the smoking age, officially, from 18 to 21 Tuesday, making it the first large U.S. city to do so.

Health Care
3:40 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Mixed Messages On Cancelled Health Plans Leave Consumers Confused

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 4:54 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This week, millions of Americans in the private insurance market are scratching their heads, trying to figure out where they stand. Last week, President Obama reversed course and said insurance companies could continue to sell policies that don't comply with the Affordable Care Act for another year.

NPR's John Ydstie talked to several people whose policies were cancelled, but now could be re-instated.

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Parenting
11:17 am
Tue November 19, 2013

China Eases One Child Policy, What's Next?

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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All Tech Considered
11:12 am
Tue November 19, 2013

This Slide Shows Why HealthCare.gov Wouldn't Work At Launch

A slide from McKinsey & Co.'s outside review of HealthCare.gov, in the spring.
House Energy and Commerce Committee

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 8:07 am

This is a story of contrast between two popular methods of software development. One is called "waterfall," the other, "agile."

Waterfall development favors listing a huge set of requirements for a system up front, letting developers go away for months (if not longer) and expecting a huge software product in the end.

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Shots - Health News
9:21 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Spiritual Healers Keep Watch For Plague In Uganda

Yoset, a spiritual healer near Arua, Uganda, works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to detect the plague in his village.
Courtesy of Mary Hayden

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 8:28 am

When medical anthropologist Mary Hayden visits her colleague Yofet, he tells her, "Mary, you don't need to call before you arrive because I already know you're coming."

Yoset, you see, is a traditional healer in northern Uganda. "The spirit comes over him and tells him how to treat people," Hayden tells Shots.

But recently, Yoset's practice has expanded beyond the ethereal. He and about 40 other healers and herbalists are helping to track down the plague in Uganda for scientists here in the U.S.

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Shots - Health News
1:56 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Wisconsin Chooses Its Own Path To Overhaul Medicaid

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March.
Pete Marovich Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 11:28 am

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is one of 25 Republican governors who are rejecting the health law's expansion of Medicaid. But Wisconsin's own Medicaid program, known as BadgerCare, is more generous than that of many states, and now Walker wants to transfer many people out of BadgerCare and into the insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.

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The Two-Way
4:13 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Princeton To Distribute Meningitis B Vaccine

Princeton University's Nassau Hall. The New Jersey university has seen seven cases of bacterial meningitis since March.
Daniel Hulshizer AP

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 5:06 pm

Princeton University has decided to distribute a vaccine for meningitis B that has not been approved for use in the United States.

As we've reported, the New Jersey university has seen seven cases of bacterial meningitis since March.

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