Health Desk

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

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

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Monkeys are clever and cute — or so the conventional wisdom in China has it. And therefore people see the Year of the Monkey, which begins on Feb. 8, as an auspicious time for making babies.

The Year of the Goat, however, which is now coming to an end, has the opposite reputation. "Nine out of 10 babies born in the Year of the Goat are unlucky," goes an old Chinese saying. (While some translations have it as "goat," others render it as "sheep" or "ram.")

Editor's note: A version of this post first appeared in January 2015.

Many people will see the snow currently blanketing much of the U.S. Eastern Seaboard as a nuisance coating sidewalks and roads. Others are celebrating it as an excuse to spend the day swooshing down a hill.

As for me, I like to think of snow as food.

Something new — and quite frightening — appears to be happening with the Zika virus.

For decades Zika was a virus that turned up in monkeys and occasionally in humans in Africa and Southeast Asia. Its symptoms were mild and the number of confirmed human cases was low.

The first big outbreak was on the island of Yap in Micronesia. Three quarters of the island's population were infected — about 5,000 people. But few of them reported any symptoms.

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

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A first-of-its-kind Kansas law that bans a common method of performing second-trimester abortions has been blocked, as judges on the state's Court of Appeals conclude that the procedure is protected by rights of due process and equal protection.

The law was blocked after the court's full roster of judges split evenly, 7-7 — an outcome that by law affirms a lower court's injunction. The case is expected to be reviewed by the Kansas Supreme Court.

On the surface, Flint, Mich., and Kabwe, Zambia, don't seem to have a lot in common.

They're half a world away from each other. One is a city of 99,000 in one of the richest countries in the world. The other is a city of 203,000 in a lower-middle-income country.

Health care has emerged as one of the flash points in the Democratic presidential race.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has been a longtime supporter of a concept he calls "Medicare for All," a health system that falls under the heading of single- payer health care.

For many immigrants, coming to America is full of the unfamiliar — from the language to the food. In Philadelphia, a program aims to help these arrivals settle into their new country by folding English lessons into a cooking class.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, 20 recent immigrants and refugees to the United States streamed into a shiny commercial-size kitchen on the fourth floor of the Free Library of Philadelphia's central branch. They were here to partake in the library's take on teaching English as a second language.

As researchers have searched for ways to explain the childhood obesity epidemic in the U.S., many have posited that a child's race or ethnicity alone can put them at greater risk of becoming overweight or obese.

Kim Eagle, a professor of internal medicine and health management and policy at the University of Michigan, was skeptical of this thinking. His hunch was that poverty was a much more important part of the equation.

Stillbirth remains largely hidden from society, and the tragic loss of a fetus late in pregnancy remains far too common.

A collection of research published Monday in The Lancet pulls back the curtain on the often-ignored subject and gives a global snapshot of the countries making the most progress to lower death rates.

Meeting girls at the bar didn't come as easily for Adrial Dale as it did for his friends. Standing on the sidelines, Dale watched his pals saunter up to women, cool and confident, perfect for the pickup scene.

But Dale could never bring himself to do it. He was terrified about having to reveal a secret, one that had brought him shame for years.

Lead Poisoning Dates Back To Roman Times

Jan 22, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Maybe El Niño isn't as bad as its reputation.

El Niño is an ocean-warming phenomenon in the Pacific that crops up every few years and alters world weather patterns. And the world is in the middle of a big El Niño that roughly began in May 2015 and will continue for at least several more months this year.

This El Niño has already been linked to a series of weather-related disasters: Massive flooding in Paraguay. Drought in Ethiopia. Another looming food crisis in Madagascar and Zimbabwe.

UPDATE January 26, 11:52 a.m.: This live Q&A has ended. Watch a recorded version in the player above.

When Netflix announced its expansion to 130 countries, including Kenya, Nairobi-based IT specialist Mark Irungu says he was thrilled.

He had never failed to find ways to stream Netflix, even when it was blocked in Kenya.

But, he says, touching his heart, "that morning, when I saw that Netflix is global? I can't compare it to anything else."

If you're a chili head, you may have more in common with Hillary Clinton than you knew.

The presidential hopeful has a serious jalapeño habit. She told All Things Considered host Ari Shapiro it started back in 1992, when it was her husband, Bill Clinton, who was running for the White House.

Here at Goats and Soda headquarters, we were discussing the huge snowstorm expected to hit D.C. this weekend when we remembered the one thing you won't find in much of the developing world (or the "Global South," as some call it): snow.

Editors' note, Feb. 1, 2016: On Jan. 20, we reported on a statement from the American Psychological Association that a research paper, "Chronic Adolescent Marijuana Use as a Risk Factor for Physical and Mental Health Problems in Young Adult Men," had a statistical error. The APA now says that statement, which was titled "APA Corrects Article Regarding Teen Marijuana Use," should not have said there was an error in the paper. Jim Sliwa, a spokesman for the APA, told NPR: "There was no error.

You've never seen a sports team like this one.

Dotted across a dusty rectangle of dirt in the Kenyan savanna, bare-chested Maasai men in traditional clothing — plaid red fabrics and colorful accessories made of feathers and beads — are playing a sport known for its stiff whites: cricket.

But winning isn't the team's No. 1 goal. It's putting the practice of female genital mutilation, which has affected girls as young as six in the community, into a permanent time-out.

Maybe it was last January's big measles outbreak at Disneyland that scared more California parents into getting their kids vaccinated. Or maybe health campaigns have become more persuasive. Or maybe schools getting stricter about requiring shots for entry made a difference.

Whatever the reasons, childhood vaccination rates last fall went up in 49 of 58 counties in California, according to data released Tuesday by state health officials.

Kevin Schiller had no idea what hit him.

With 21 years on the job, the building engineer for Macy's department stores had been in and out of every nook and cranny of many of the retail giant's Texas stores, including the storage room in the Macy's in Denton, Texas.

One minute, the stocky, 6-foot-2 Schiller was searching there for a floor drain. The next, he was sprawled on the floor, stunned, confused and bleeding slightly.

What is it like to starve to death?

For years, Americans cycled through one brand-name diet after another, each promising a sure method to lose weight. Along the way, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and Lean Cuisine made fortunes off their low-calorie, low-fat diet programs and products.

The Senate Agriculture Committee has voted in support of a compromise plan that will preserve key school nutrition standards enacted after the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010.

Yep, that's the law that requires schools to serve up more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It also paved the way for major reductions in salt.

Was Dr. Asperger A Nazi? The Question Still Haunts Autism

Jan 20, 2016

The publication of a new history of autism called In a Different Key, by John Donvan and Caren Zucker, has reopened an unsettling question about the pioneering Viennese pediatrician Hans Asperger: Was he a Nazi sympathizer, or a man who paid lip service to his bosses' murderous ideology in order to save the lives of as many of his young patients as possible?

Three decades ago, the treatment Michele Zumwalt received for severe headaches involved a shot of the opioid Demerol. Very quickly, Zumwalt says, she would get headaches if she didn't get her shot. Then she began having seizures, and her doctor considered stopping the medication.

"I didn't know I was addicted, but I just knew that it was like you were going to ask me to live in a world without oxygen," she says. "It was that scary."

"We are alone. We have been abandoned by the state," says Marilia Lima, cradling her 2 1/2-month-old son, Arthur, against her chest.

Arthur is one of some 3,500 babies born with microcephaly, a birth defect that has been linked to Zika virus, since the virus was identified in Brazil in May. Although a definitive cause-and-effect relationship has not been proven, both Brazilian and international doctors believe there is indeed a connection.

In their book published this month, In a Different Key: The Story of Autism, journalists John Donvan and Caren Zucker delve into the history of the good and bad intentions, sometimes wrongheaded science and shifting definitions that can cloud our understanding of what has come to be called the autism spectrum.

Pages