Health Desk

The Salt
2:09 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

For Lower-Income Students, Snow Days Can Be Hungry Days

When schools close for bad weather, some kids miss out on much-needed nutritious meals. "It's hard to be a hungry person, and it gets harder when the weather is like this," Nancy Roman, president of the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C., says of severe cold and snow.
Jessica Glazer NPR

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 8:32 pm

For many Americans it's been a harsh, disruptive winter, from the country's Northern edges to the Deep South.

When cold snaps and blizzards shutter schools, kids miss more than their daily lessons. Some miss out on the day's nutritious meal as well.

This recently became apparent to school administrators in rural Iowa, where extreme cold delayed openings two days in a row at Laurens-Marathon Community School, where 59 percent of students who eat school lunch qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

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Shots - Health News
12:16 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Judge Dismisses Assisted Suicide Case Against Pennsylvania Nurse

Barbara Mancini with her father, Joseph Yourshaw.
Barbara Mancini via Compassion & Choices

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 2:39 pm

A Pennsylvania county judge has thrown out an assisted suicide case against a 58-year-old nurse named Barbara Mancini, who was accused of homicide last year for allegedly handing her 93-year-old father a bottle of morphine.

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Shots - Health News
9:25 am
Wed February 12, 2014

The High Cost Of Treating People Hospitalized With West Nile Virus

Small but costly: Dozens of mosquito species carry West Nile virus in the U.S.
Darren McCollester Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 4:11 pm

Fifteen years ago an unwelcome viral visitor entered the U.S., and we've been paying for it ever since.

The U.S recorded its first case of West Nile virus back in 1999. Since then, the disease has spread across the lower 48 states and cost the country around $800 million, scientists reported this week in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

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Parallels
8:41 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Belgian Proposal: Terminally Ill Kids Could Choose Euthanasia

Protesters in Brussels, Belgium, march on Feb. 2 against a proposed law that would allow terminally ill kids to choose euthanasia.
Virginia Mayo AP

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 8:00 pm

This week Belgium is expected to become the first country in the world to allow terminally ill children to choose euthanasia.

Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002 for those 18 and over, and the number of adults choosing a doctor-assisted death has been rising annually, reaching 1,432 in 2012.

But a bill before Parliament would lift age restrictions and allow terminally ill children to ask to be euthanized if they are in unbearable pain and treatment options are exhausted. In addition, their parents and medical team would have to agree.

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Around the Nation
5:05 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Why Is Tobacco Still The Leading Preventable Cause Of Death?

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 6:57 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

Fifty years after the landmark surgeon general's report that smoking causes cancer, former U.S. surgeons general are emphasizing that the key in the fight against tobacco is kids. They gathered for a youth tobacco summit in New Orleans yesterday.

NPR's Debbie Elliott reports.

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The Salt
2:38 am
Wed February 12, 2014

The Full-Fat Paradox: Whole Milk May Keep Us Lean

A customer shops for milk at a Safeway in Livermore, Calif. Although it may seem counterintuitive, there's growing evidence that full-fat dairy is linked to reduced body weight.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 10:52 am

I have to admit, I melt at the creaminess of full-fat yogurt.

It's an indulgence that we're told to resist. And I try to abide. (Stealing a bite of my daughter's YoBaby doesn't count, does it?)

The reason we're told to limit dairy fat seems pretty straightforward. The extra calories packed into the fat are bad for our waistlines — that's the assumption.

But what if dairy fat isn't the dietary demon we've been led to believe it is? New research suggests we may want to look anew.

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Shots - Health News
3:31 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Cervical Cancer Vaccine Also Helps Prevent Genital Warts

University of Miami pediatrician Judith Schaechter gives a girl an HPV vaccination in 2011.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

The HPV vaccine was created to protect women against the virus that causes cervical cancer. But it also helps prevent genital warts, a common sexually transmitted disease caused by the same virus, a study finds.

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Shots - Health News
2:33 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

In Illinois Deal, The Onion Will Promote Health Insurance (Really)

Would you buy health insurance from this man?
Get Covered Illinois

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 7:58 am

In a story that you'd think was ripped straight from the headlines of America's foremost made-up-news website, The Onion said it's coming up with ads to promote health insurance for young people in Illinois.

But it's true.

Get Covered Illinois, the state's health insurance exchange, has hired Onion Labs, The Onion's in-house ad team, to develop banner ads, a video and other online material to persuade people to sign up for insurance coverage.

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Parenting
10:57 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Children And Anorexia: Noticing The Warning Signs

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 12:38 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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U.S.
10:57 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Coping With The Cold Is About Survival For The Homeless

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 12:38 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
10:15 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Despite Federal Rules, Some States Deny Family Policies For Same-Sex Couples

Even after marriage, some same-sex couple can't get family health insurance policies.
Diana Lundin iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 4:11 pm

Carl Bechdel and Dan Miller started looking for a family plan on the Pennsylvania health insurance marketplace last fall.

After submitting their application for a bronze-level plan to Highmark Blue Shield in early December, the couple became concerned when the end of the month approached and they hadn't heard from the insurer.

Bechdel called customer service and finally learned the reason: The company doesn't offer family coverage to same-sex couples.

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The Salt
7:34 am
Tue February 11, 2014

How Caffeinated Are Our Kids? Coffee Consumption Jumps

According to the pediatrics study, about three-fourths of children in the U.S. consume caffeine on a given day.
iStockphoto

Energy drinks tend to get a bad rap. The Food and Drug Administration has investigated reports of deaths and sicknesses linked to them. Hospitals have reported increased ER visits.

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Health Care
3:57 am
Tue February 11, 2014

U.S. Delays Obamacare Deadline For Some Businesses

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 12:28 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The Obama Administration is delaying the part of the Affordable Care Act that affects businesses and the insurance they offer - again. As NPR's Julie Rovner reports, this time, the administration is calling its changes to the new law a phase-in.

JULIE ROVNER, BYLINE: OK, first off, the very smallest employers, those with fewer than 50 workers? They never had to do anything, and still don't.

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The Two-Way
5:47 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

U.S. Resets Obamacare Deadline For Some Businesses To 2016

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 7:50 pm

The Obama administration says businesses employing 50-99 people now have until Jan. 1, 2016, to provide health insurance, rolling back part of the requirement known as the employer mandate. Under the Affordable Care Act, larger companies must offer the coverage in 2015.

NPR's Julie Rovner filed this update for our Newscast desk:

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Health Care
4:26 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Health Law's Employer Mandate Hits Another Speed Bump

Still waiting for job-linked health insurance? Check the size of your company.
Vasilyev iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 2:55 pm

The Obama administration is, again, delaying implementation of a part of the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to provide health insurance to their workers (or, potentially, face penalties). But this time it's not the entire "employer mandate" that's being delayed (as it was in 2013) — just part of it.

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Shots - Health News
3:16 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Young And In Love? Thank Mom And Dad, At Least A Little

You learned it all from your folks, right?
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 4:11 pm

If you're happily in love, Mom and Dad may have helped.

Teenagers' relationships with their parents have a small but measurable impact on their romantic relationships up to 15 years later, according to researchers at the University of Alberta.

People who had a tumultuous relationship with Mom and Dad in their teens were more likely to face heartache down the road. And those who felt close to their parents during adolescence tended to feel more emotionally and physically satisfied in their adult romantic relationships.

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The Salt
2:39 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

The Neuroscience Of Munchies: Why The Scent Of A Burger Gives Us A High

Research in mice offers new clues as to why Harold and Kumar were so motivated to get to White Castle.
Todd Plitt/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 5:56 pm

From cinnamon buns in the morning to a burger after a long run, food never smells as good as when you're superhungry.

Now scientists have uncovered a clue as to why that might be — and it lies in the munchies and marijuana.

Receptors in the brains of mice that light up when the animals are high are also activated when the critters are fasting, French scientists reported Sunday in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

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Shots - Health News
11:49 am
Mon February 10, 2014

'Lung In A Box' Keeps Organs Breathing Before Transplants

The Organ Care System keeps lungs warm, breathing and nourished while outside the body.
MediCommConsultants

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 7:57 am

When doctors rush a lung to a hospital for a transplant, the precious cargo arrives in the operating room in a container that seems more appropriate for Bud Light — a cooler filled with ice.

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Behind Closed Doors
11:05 am
Mon February 10, 2014

The Truth About Miscarriage: Being In 'Gestational Limbo'

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 1:06 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now we go behind closed doors. That's the part of the program where we talk about issues that people usually keep private. And today, we are focusing on miscarriage. And if you've ever gone through it or know someone who has, then you know it's devastating and surprisingly common. The National Institutes of Health report that 15 to 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage.

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Health
11:05 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Fifty Years After Major Report, Surgeons General Work To End Smoking

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 11:41 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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The Salt
2:26 am
Mon February 10, 2014

It Takes More Than A Produce Aisle To Refresh A Food Desert

Euclid Market, a corner store in East Los Angeles, recently got a makeover to promote healthier eating. It not only sells more fruits and vegetables, but also offers cooking classes and nutrition education.
Courtesy of Margaret Molloy/UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 5:56 pm

In inner cities and poor rural areas across the country, public health advocates have been working hard to turn around food deserts — neighborhoods where fresh produce is scarce, and greasy fast food abounds. In many cases, they're converting dingy, cramped corner markets into lighter, brighter venues that offer fresh fruits and vegetables.

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Shots - Health News
2:25 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Family Planning Squeezed In California By Health Law

A new electronic system will attempt to cut costs at the Planned Parenthood in Concord.
Courtesy of Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 8:56 am

An unexpected quirk in the Affordable Care Act has left birth control clinics struggling to balance their budgets in California.

Clinics that have long enjoyed state support to run as nonprofits are having to rethink how to stay in business.

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Shots - Health News
2:22 am
Mon February 10, 2014

New Heat Treatment Has Changed Lives For Some With Severe Asthma

Virginia Rady, 28, holds her old nebulizer at her home in Dallas. Rady was diagnosed with chronic persistent asthma at age 2. She underwent a series of three outpatient surgeries between December 2012 and February 2013 for a procedure known as bronchial thermoplasty. She says the procedure has changed her life, allowing her to remove her nebulizer from her bedside.
Brandon Thibodeaux for NPR

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 7:58 am

If you've ever tried to drink something through one of those little red coffee stirrers instead of a full-sized straw, you know what it's like to breathe with asthma.

Twenty-five million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma. And for 10 percent of them, medications like inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta agonists aren't enough to keep them out of the hospital.

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Shots - Health News
8:46 am
Sun February 9, 2014

Birth Control And Blood Clots: Women Still Weighing The Risks

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 3:28 pm

The drug company Merck, maker of the NuvaRing contraceptive, says it will pay out $100 million to settle thousands of liability lawsuits from women who say they were harmed by using the product.

These women say that the birth control method put them at greater risk of life-threatening blood clots, and that they were not adequately warned of that risk.

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Digital Life
4:42 pm
Sat February 8, 2014

Dr. Wikipedia: The 'Double-Edged Sword' Of Crowdsourced Medicine

giulia.forsythe Flickr

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 12:17 pm

Wikipedia has become a go-to source for definitions, celebrity facts, and now, medical information. A study by the IMS Health Institute published in January names Wikipedia as the "single leading source" of health care information for both patients and health care professionals.

Unfortunately, some of that information is wrong.

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Shots - Health News
4:57 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Stomach Bug Closes Landmark New York Resort

Mohonk Mountain House, a resort 90 miles north of New York City, is closed while crews sanitize the facilities after an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness.
Jim Smith AP

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 8:42 am

Norovirus isn't just a problem for cruise ships.

The Mohonk Mountain House, a historic resort on the edge of Catskills in New York, closed Friday afternoon so that cleaning crews from a company that specializes in disaster responses can scour the place after an outbreak of intestinal illness. The cleanup is expected to take a week.

Hundreds of people, both guests and staff, were reportedly sickened in the last week or so.

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Shots - Health News
3:13 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

After A Stroke, Women's Lives Are Worse Than Men's

Women say that after a stroke they're less mobile and more depressed than men.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 10:22 am

It's been a big week for distressing and important news about women and stroke.

Thursday saw the first-ever guidelines for prevention of stroke in women. They pointed out that women are more likely than men to have strokes. Young women are vulnerable because of pregnancy and birth control pills.

And when women do have strokes, they fare less well than men — even a year later, according to a study published Friday in the journal Neurology.

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Barbershop
11:07 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Is George Zimmerman On A Road To Perdition?

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Now it's time for our weekly visit to the Barbershop, where the guys talk about what's in the news and what's on their minds. Sitting in the chairs for a shape-up this week are writer Jimi Izrael, with us from Cleveland, Arsalan Iftikhar, senior editor of The Islamic Monthly, with us from Chicago. Here in Washington D.C., contributing editor for The Root, Corey Dade. Also here in D.C., TELL ME MORE editor Ammad Omar. Take it away, Jimi.

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Shots - Health News
9:52 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Maker Of $1,000 Hepatitis C Pill Looks To Cut Its Cost Overseas

A girl with hepatitis C holds a medical report while being treated at a hospital in Hefei, China, in 2011. China has one of the greatest burdens of hepatitis C, but it's still not clear whether a deal for lower prices for a new drug from Gilead Sciences will apply there.
Barcroft Media/Landov

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 10:25 am

An effective new medicine is developed as a cure for a major disease. The drug company prices the medicine at tens of thousands of dollars for a course of treatment. How can the disease-curing medicine be made accessible to patients who need it, most of whom live in low- and middle-income countries?

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Shots - Health News
4:07 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Start Early To Cut Women's Stroke Risk

Exercise helps lower stroke risk, but birth control pills and pregnancy can be problematic for younger women.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 4:16 pm

Women are at greater risk for strokes than men, and for the first time women and their doctors have evidence-based guidelines on how to reduce that risk.

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