Health Desk

If you think trade deals are just about business, think again. They can also have a sweeping effect on how people eat. Take all those avocados, watermelon and cervezas from Mexico we now consume, and the meat and feed corn for livestock we send there in exchange.

Monday marks a different kind of Mother's Day in South Korea. It's Single Mother's Day, an effort by civic groups to raise awareness of Korean society's unwed moms.

Despite Korea's rapid economic advancement, the country has yet to catch up to the notion of nontraditional families. Single moms are still forced into the shadows of society — ostracized by family members, discriminated against at work and all the while, trying to raise children without a network of support.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Terri Bradford has suffered debilitating headaches all her life. Some days the pain is so bad, she says, "By 11 o'clock in the morning, I'm on the couch in a darkened room with my head packed in ice."

Over the years, Bradford, who is 50 years old and lives in Bedford, Mass., has searched desperately for pain relief. She's been to the doctor countless times for countless tests. "Everything I've had, I've had twice," she says. "I've had two spinal taps; I've had so many nerve blocks I've lost count."

Since October of last year, four teenagers in California's Palo Alto school district have taken their own lives. Tragically, it's not the first cluster of teen suicides this area has seen: In 2009 and 2010, five local teenagers killed themselves by stepping in front of trains, and more suicides followed the next year.

In the past academic year, four students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have taken their own lives.

And in the days that followed two of her freshmen classmates' deaths by suicide, 18-year-old Isabel "Izzy" Lloyd noticed something.

"Things just sort of stopped for a week or two and there were people posting on Facebook and sending out emails and Twitter and Instagram and people were saying, 'I care, you can come see me,' " she says.

"Remember the last time you had sex? Were you drinking? Alcohol use during pregnancy can cause lifelong problems for the child."

That's part of the warning on a poster in the women's bathroom at the Peanut Farm bar in Anchorage. It depicts the silhouette of a pregnant woman guzzling straight from a bottle. And it's affixed to a pregnancy test dispenser hanging on the wall.

Sia Kailahi is a tough-looking amateur boxer with dark eyeliner and tattoo-covered arms, but today her boxing gloves are off. She tosses up a volleyball and smacks a serve over a net.

A dozen people, laughing, keep the ball airborne at Bell Street Park in East Palo Alto, Calif. The park sits right next to a freeway exit in a city that has significant crime, despite being surrounded by affluent communities and technology companies. This park has a history as an easy stop-off point for buying and selling drugs.

The Harlem Children's Zone is a nonprofit known for its innovative, multifaceted approach to ending the cycle to poverty. It's garnered kudos from President Obama and philanthropists like William Louis-Dreyfus, who recently announced he would donate up to $50 million to the organization.

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

Pregnant mothers are often reminded that they're eating for two. But 17-year-old Gladys barely has enough food for one.

They were the ones who went door to door to stop the spread of Ebola. They were accused of passing on the virus and had water hurled at them. They were the community health workers — the unsung heroes of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia.

On the northern side of Monrovia, a team of nurses is vaccinating children on the veranda of the AfroMed clinic. Tables with boxes of rubber gloves and vaccine coolers are arranged in the shade out of the intense, tropical sun.

A mother rocks her crying baby, who has just been jabbed with a measles shot. Martina Seyah, who brought her 2-year-old daughter, Irena, to get the shot, says parents in the neighborhood are very worried their children could get measles or other diseases.

Sophia's time as the most popular name for little girls born in the U.S. is reportedly over; it was replaced by Emma in the government's 2014 data that were released Friday. Repeating as the top boy's name is Noah, followed by Liam.

That's the news from the Social Security Administration, which says, "There are a few new names in the top 10 this year — James (a former No. 1 from the '40s and '50s) on the blue side and Charlotte on the pink side, her first time ever in the top 10."

It's not hard to connect the dots between what kids see on TV and what they eat. Advertising works.

And researchers have documented that marketing practices that push items like sugary cereals, salted snacks and fast food put children's long-term health at risk, by promoting unhealthy eating habits.

How do you help a former captive reclaim her life?

That's the question mental health professionals face as they treat more than 200 women and children freed from the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram last Saturday in Nigeria.

According to reports, the majority of those rescued are children and a number of the teens and women are pregnant.

A measles outbreak linked to Disneyland has exposed gaps in immunization against the highly infectious disease.

All told this year, 169 people in 20 states and the District of Columbia were reported sick with measles through May 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Childhood vaccination remains a potent public health weapon against the spread of many illnesses, including measles. But objections and worries about vaccination remain, too.

Most people think a miscarriage is rare, and many believe that if a woman loses a pregnancy that she brought it upon herself. Neither of those things is true, but the enduring beliefs cause great pain to women and their partners.

In fact, almost half of people who have experienced a miscarriage or whose partner has had one feel guilty, according to a survey to be published Monday in Obstetrics & Gynecology. More than a quarter of them felt shame. Many felt they'd lost a child.

It's difficult to imagine that a seven-story glass building will soon take the place of what's now a vast hole near the corner of Carnegie Avenue and 105th Street in Cleveland. But Cliff Kazmierczak, who is with Turner Construction and overseeing the transformation, points to the gray sky, tracing a silhouette with his fingertips. In two years, he says, the Cleveland Clinic's nearly $300 million cancer center is slated to open here.

Upscale grocery store chain Whole Foods (often referred to as "Whole Paycheck" because of its high prices) announced this week that it's launching a new offshoot brand — with lower prices — to appeal to younger, millennial shoppers.

Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods, says it will be a "uniquely branded store concept unlike anything that currently exists in the marketplace" with "value prices ... a modern, streamlined design, innovative technology and a curated selection."

Back in the 1960s, the U.S. started vaccinating kids for measles. As expected, children stopped getting measles.

But something else happened.

Childhood deaths from all infectious diseases plummeted. Even deaths from diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea were cut by half.

Scientists saw the same phenomenon when the vaccine came to England and parts of Europe. And they see it today when developing countries introduce the vaccine.

Let's Talk About Death Over Dinner

May 7, 2015

On a recent evening in San Francisco, five guests gather at the home of Eric Weinstein and his wife, Pia Malaney, for a tasty dinner of seared salmon and a deep discussion of a topic that many people might find unpalatable: death.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Here's something that might sound strange: There are companies now that print and sell DNA.

This trend — which uses the term "print" in the sense of making a bunch of copies speedily — is making particular stretches of DNA much cheaper and easier to obtain than ever before. That excites many scientists who are keen to use these tailored strings of genetic instructions to do all sorts of things, ranging from finding new medical treatments to genetically engineering better crops.

When a friend or loved one gets sick — really, seriously sick — it's hard to know what to say. So some of us say nothing. Which seems better than saying the wrong thing, though people do that too.

Los Angeles graphic designer Emily McDowell's solution to this dilemma are what she calls Empathy Cards. When someone is seriously ill, she says, the usual "Get Well Soon" won't do. Because you might not, she says. At least not soon.

Ebola virus has once again figured out how to surprise and confound humans. It attacked the eyes of a doctor weeks after he had been deemed cured and virus-free.

The doctor, 43-year-old Ian Crozier, had contracted Ebola while working in Sierra Leone and was flown back to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta last September, desperately ill.

When it comes to cancer, the right screening test at the right time can go a long way toward catching the disease while it can be stopped.

But many Americans aren't getting recommended screening tests for colorectal, breast and cervical cancer. In fact, there's been a notable lack of progress in reaching national screening goals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In just two days, Liberia will celebrate what seemed an impossible dream last summer: the end of its Ebola outbreak.

Saturday, May 9 will mark the 42nd day of no new Ebola cases in the country. A person with Ebola typically shows symptoms within 21 days of exposure. But the World Health Organization adds an extra 21 days for extra caution before declaring that an outbreak has ended. So on Saturday, WHO officials and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will announce that Liberia is Ebola-free.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

In a leafy suburb of Cleveland, 108-year-old Lakewood Hospital is expected to close in the next two years, for economic reasons. Mike Summers points to the fourth-floor windows on the far left side of the historic brick building. He recalls spending three weeks in one of those rooms. It was Christmas 1965 and Summers had a broken hip.

"I remember hearing Christmas bells from the church across the street," he says.

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