Health Desk

The Two-Way
9:21 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Supreme Court Rules Against Union Fees For Some Home Care Workers

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 10:40 am

Updated at 10:48 a.m. ET

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that some public employees cannot be required to contribute to unions.

In a 5-4 ruling split along ideological lines, the court recognized a category of "partial public employees" who cannot be required to contribute union bargaining fees. The court said the current practice, which permits automatic deductions, violates the First Amendment rights of those nonmembers who disagree with the union's positions.

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Shots - Health News
2:26 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Preschoolers Outsmart College Students In Figuring Out Gadgets

If you've noticed that kids seem to be better at figuring out these things, you're not alone.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 12:32 pm

Ever wonder why children can so easily figure out how to work the TV remote? Or why they "totally get" apps on your smartphone faster than you? It turns out that young children may be more open-minded than adults when it comes to solving problems.

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Shots - Health News
2:25 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Online Psychotherapy Gains Fans And Raises Privacy Concerns

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 12:32 pm

Lauren Kay has never met her therapist in person. The 24-year-old entrepreneur found it difficult to take time off work for appointments.

So she started seeing a psychotherapist online.

"It's definitely been different," she says. Kay, who lives in New York, found her counselor through an online therapy service called Pretty Padded Room. When it's time for an appointment, all she has to do is log in to the website, click a link and start video chatting.

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Krulwich Wonders...
4:18 am
Sun June 29, 2014

Her Baby Is At Risk: Lauren's Story

Courtesy of Lauren R. Weinstein/Nautilus

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 2:55 pm

They're odds. That's all they are. Not fate, just probabilities. Lauren Weinstein, cartoonist, is having a baby, and she's told — out of the blue — that she and her husband are both carriers of the gene that causes cystic fibrosis. They are sent to a genetic counselor. What happens next — told in five beautifully drawn, emotionally eloquent cartoons — tells what it's like to walk the edge for a few weeks. She's so many things (sad, funny, scared, puzzled), and then there's the ender. Take a look.

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Shots - Health News
4:08 am
Sat June 28, 2014

Older Moms Take Heart: You May Be More Likely To Live Longer

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 3:58 pm

Americans are waiting longer to become parents. Whatever the pros and cons of that trend, here's some potentially good news for those older moms: They may be more likely to live longer.

Women who had their last child after the age of 33 had twice the odds of "exceptional longevity" — defined as living to about 95 — as did women who had their last child before age 29, according to a study published this week in the journal Menopause.

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Shots - Health News
2:07 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Federal Panel Backs FluMist For Kids, But The Shot Isn't Dead Yet

An elementary school student Shane Shorter gets a a dose of FluMist in Gainesville, Fla.
Doug Finger Gainesville Sun/Landov

What's worse, a shot in the arm or a spritz up the nose? Children increasingly have a choice when it comes to vaccination for influenza.

On Thursday, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a panel that advises the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on vaccinations, voted for the spritz up the nose. It recommended that healthy children ages 2 through 8 get FluMist, a nasal spray flu vaccine, instead of the traditional flu shot.

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Shots - Health News
1:59 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

When Heat Stroke Strikes, Cool First, Transport Later

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo takes a water break during the 2014 World Cup soccer match between Portugal and the U.S. in Manaus, Brazil, on June 22.
Siphiwe Sibeko Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 4:38 pm

The first-ever World Cup water break (taken during the game between Portugal and the United States this week) is a reminder that we all need to take extra precautions when playing in the heat.

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Shots - Health News
12:08 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

A Doctor Tries To Save A 9-Year-Old Stricken With Ebola

Workers with Doctors Without Borders prepare isolation and treatment areas for Ebola patients in Gueckedou, Guinea.
Kjell Gunnar Beraas AP

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 6:46 am

He was a little boy, 9 years old. He and his mother had both been infected with Ebola. She likely caught the virus while washing a deceased Ebola victim, as is often the custom for burials in Guinea. Then she probably infected her child.

Once she began showing symptoms, she and her son were locked in a house for four days because neighbors were so scared of the virus. Medical workers learned of the case. And the mother and son were driven to a treatment center in the back of a pickup truck, along a dirt road.

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Health
11:13 am
Fri June 27, 2014

Black Men Can Be Emotional Eaters, Too

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 11:25 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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The Salt
2:21 am
Fri June 27, 2014

As Pig Virus Spreads, The Price Of Pork Continues To Rise

Michael Yezzi raises 1,000 pigs a year in Shushan, N.Y. He's worried about how to keep his farm safe from a disease that has no proven cure.
Abbie Fentress Swanson for NPR

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 7:31 am

If you're bringing home the bacon, you may have noticed a price tag inching upward.

Consumers are paying nearly 13 percent more for pork at the supermarket than they were this time last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A deadly pig disease is partially to blame.

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Shots - Health News
4:08 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Clashing Accounts Of Heart Attack Case Spark Reader Debate

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Perhaps we should have expected that the contradictory stories about a middle-aged man's heart attack would lead to a vigorous conversation about whether the doctors and nurses or the patient and his wife were right in their descriptions.

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Shots - Health News
3:44 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

A CRISPR Way To Fix Faulty Genes

The CRISPR enzyme (green and red) binds to a stretch of double-stranded DNA (purple and red), preparing to snip out the faulty part.
Illustration courtesy of Jennifer Doudna/UC Berkeley

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 6:47 am

Scientists from many areas of biology are flocking to a technique that allows them to work inside cells, making changes in specific genes far faster — and for far less money — than ever before.

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The Two-Way
2:53 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Pot Use On The Rise In U.S., Report Says

A U.N. report says the use and potency of cannabis is on the rise in the U.S.
Ted S. Warren AP

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 4:34 pm

Marijuana use in the United States has gone up as the public perception of the drug's risk has gone down, according to a new United Nations report. The potency of the drug has also increased,

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The Salt
2:29 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Did Neanderthals Eat Plants? The Proof May Be In The Poop

A rendering of Neanderthals cooking and eating. The ancient humans inhabited Europe and western Asia between 230,000 and 29,000 years ago.
Mauricio Anton Science Source

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 4:35 pm

Neanderthals clubbed their way to the top of an ancient food chain, slaying caribou and mammoths. But a peek inside their prehistoric poop reveals that the meat-loving early humans may have also enjoyed some salad on the side.

Researchers excavating a site in southern Spain where Neanderthals lived 50,000 years ago were initially looking for remnants of food in fireplaces. Then they stumbled upon tiny bits of poop — which turned out to be the oldest fecal matter from a human relation ever discovered.

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Shots - Health News
12:59 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Excessive Drinking Causes 10 Percent Of Deaths In Working-Age Adults

One in 6 adults binge drinks, and that plays a role in most alcohol-related deaths.
IntangibleArts/Flickr

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 6:47 am

Think about people dying from drinking too much, and you probably think of the classic disease of alcoholics, cirrhosis of the liver. Or perhaps an alcohol-fueled car crash. But there are many more ways to kill yourself with alcohol, unfortunately, and they account for 1 in 10 deaths in working-age adults, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Shots - Health News
12:55 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Ebola's Surge Requires 'Drastic Action' To Stop

Doctors Without Borders workers transport a body at a center for victims of the Ebola virus in Guekedou, Guinea, in April.
Seyllou AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 1:31 pm

The World Health Organization is "gravely concerned" about the "potential international spread" of Ebola beyond the outbreak in West Africa, the agency's regional office said Thursday.

"This is no longer a country specific outbreak but a sub-regional crisis," it added.

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Shots - Health News
10:06 am
Thu June 26, 2014

FDA Warns Of Life-Threatening Reactions With Acne Products

This might help with pimples, but be aware of risky reactions.
iStockphoto

The announcement that popular over-the-counter acne treatments can cause rare but life-threatening reactions sure got our attention. Who among us hasn't slathered that stuff on our face?

The reactions include throat tightness, shortness of breath, wheezing, low blood pressure, fainting and collapse. Hives and swelling of body parts where the products were not applied were also reported. And 44 percent of the people affected were sick enough to be hospitalized.

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Health Desk
5:46 am
Thu June 26, 2014

Governor Signs Measure Letting Psychologists Prescribe

Credit flickr/Ajay Suresh

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed off on a measure that allows psychologists in Illinois to prescribe medication to patients.  

The governor signed the legislation Wednesday in Chicago. It was sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon of Oak Park and Rep. John Bradley of Marion, both Democrats.  
Psychologists have to receive specific training for prescription-writing privileges and be required to work with a coordinating physician.  

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Africa
4:06 am
Thu June 26, 2014

Second Surge Of Ebola Strikes West Africa

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 1:19 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

An Ebola outbreak in West Africa is now the largest and most deadly outbreak of that virus ever recorded. The first cases were confirmed in Guinea in March. Health officials thought they had a handle on this. They did not. A rash of new cases popped up in neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia. So we're going to talk about this with NPR's Jason Beaubien, who's been following the story. Hi, Jason.

JASON BEAUBIEN, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: What's going on?

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Shots - Health News
4:34 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Few Doctors Warn Expectant Mothers About Environmental Hazards

Doctors may be more hesitant to discuss environmental hazards than the risks of smoking and drinking.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 9:14 am

Doctors regularly counsel expectant mothers about the risks associated with smoking, drinking and poor nutrition during pregnancy.

But many obstetricians are reluctant to speak with them about the potential dangers posed by toxic substances in the environment — things like heavy metals, solvents and pesticides.

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Shots - Health News
2:15 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Could The Ebola Outbreak Spread To Europe Or The U.S.?

On the lookout for SARS, an employee checks a baby's temperature at the Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, in 2003. The deadly virus quickly spread around the world once it reached Hong Kong, a central travel hub.
Nir Elias Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 8:41 am

Ebola headlines this past week make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

"Ebola Epidemic In West Africa 'Out Of Control,' " CNN said Monday. "Doctors Aren't Sure How To Stop Africa's Deadliest Ebola Outbreak," Shots reported.

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NPR Ed
1:03 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

What Kids Can Learn From A Water Balloon Fight

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 8:30 pm

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Shots - Health News
10:06 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Heart Of The Matter: Treating The Disease Instead Of The Person

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 8:28 am

A 56-year-old man is having lunch with his wife at a seafood restaurant just outside Boston when he develops crushing chest pain. He refuses an ambulance, so the man's wife drives him to the ER.

What happens next says a lot about the difference that being a doctor or a patient can make in how one feels about the health care system.

First, how did the patient and his wife see the trip to the hospital?

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Shots - Health News
8:56 am
Wed June 25, 2014

How Connecticut's Change In Autism Coverage Could Make Waves

Many families with children who have autism count on their insurance to help pay for expensive, long-term treatment. But a recent bulletin issued by the Connecticut Insurance Department may undermine existing coverage protections, some advocates say, and they are concerned that other states might follow suit.

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Around the Nation
2:25 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Trouble In Paradise: Opiate Use Spikes On Martha's Vineyard

A cache of Percocet and other opiates seized by Oak Bluffs police in an arrest earlier this year.
Courtesy of Oak Bluffs Police

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 11:48 am

Underneath the charm of Martha's Vineyard's picturesque beaches, peaceful woods and luxury homes is a problem: Since August, there have been six overdose deaths on the island.

"That's a phenomenal rate for a community of 16,000 people — and that's not to mention the overdoses that haven't been fatal," says Charles Silberstein, an addiction specialist and psychiatrist at Martha's Vineyard Hospital. "We've had overdoses for years, but I don't think we've ever seen this kind of number or frequency."

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The Salt
4:49 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

'Natural' Food Sounds Good But Doesn't Mean Much

Advocates say consumers may assume that the "natural" label is the same as "organic."
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 8:50 am

Some people have had it with "natural" food.

For fifteen years, Urvashi Rangan, director of consumer safety and sustainability for Consumer Reports, has been pointing out that "natural" is just about the most misleading label that you'll ever see on a food package. Yet consumers still look for that word, food companies still love to use it and the Food and Drug Administration can't or won't define it.

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Shots - Health News
3:35 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

3-D Mammography Finds More Tumors, But Questions Remain

A standard digital mammogram, left, compared to a 3-D tomosynthesis mammogram, right.
Courtesy of Hologic

A form of mammogram that takes multiple images does a slightly better job of finding tumors and reducing women's risk of having to be scanned again, a study finds.

It's the biggest study yet to look at tomosynthesis, also called 3-D mammograms. But it's still unclear if using this kind of mammogram increases a woman's odds of surviving breast cancer, the researchers say.

Rather, it found that the 3-D mammograms reduced the rate of recalls, where women had to have more scanning or a biopsy, by 1.6 percent.

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Shots - Health News
12:29 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Never Too Young: Pediatricians Say Parents Should Read To Infants

Cuddling up to read a story with the very young helps them recognize words and learn vocabulary, researchers say.
Jo Unruh iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 3:29 pm

Children whose parents read to them get a head start on language skills and literacy, as well as lovely cuddle time with Mom or Dad. But many children miss out on that experience, with one-third of children starting kindergarten without the language skills they need to learn to read.

So the nation's pediatricians are upping the ante, asking parents to start reading to their children when they're babies.

And pediatricians are becoming book purveyors, handing out books to families who might not have the resources to buy them.

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Shots - Health News
9:40 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Employer Health Costs Are Expected To Rise In 2015

Increases in health costs will accelerate next year, but changes in how people buy care will help keep the hikes from reaching the speed seen several years ago, PricewaterhouseCoopers says.

The prediction, based on interviews and modeling, splits the difference between hopes that costs will stay tame and fears that they're off to the races after having been slow since the 2008 financial crisis.

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Shots - Health News
2:31 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Measles Outbreak In Ohio Leads Amish To Reconsider Vaccines

Amish show up at a makeshift clinic to get vaccinated against the measles. There's been an outbreak of measles among the Amish in central Ohio.
Sarah Jane Tribble Sarah Jane Tribble

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 8:53 am

The Amish countryside in central Ohio looks as it has for a hundred years. There are picturesque pastures with cows and sheep, and big red barns dot the landscape.

But something changed here, when, on an April afternoon, an Amish woman walked to a communal call box. She picked up the phone to call the Knox County Health Department. She told a county worker she and a family next door had the measles.

That call spurred nurse Jacqueline Fletcher into action.

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