Let's Talk Kids

Shots - Health News
9:03 am
Sat December 7, 2013

Gene Therapy Keeps 'Bubble Boy' Disease At Bay In 8 Children

David Vetter was born without a functioning immune system and spent his life in a bubble that protected him from germs. He died at age 12 in 1984. Scientists are using gene therapy to treat the disorder so that children can live normally.
Science Source

Researchers say they are achieving success in curing the genetic defect that causes some children to be born without immune defenses, a rare condition made famous in the 1970s by a Texas boy who lived most of his short life in a sterile "bubble."

Scientists now report that 8 out of 9 young children given gene therapy for a type of severe combined immunodeficiency disease, called SCID-X1, are alive and living amid the everyday microbial threats that would otherwise have killed them. The oldest is just over 3 years old.

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The Two-Way
1:46 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Shanghai's Choking Smog Registers 'Beyond Index'

A building under construction is covered with haze in Shanghai on Friday. The city's pollution index is at its highest ever, officials say.
Eugene Hoshiko AP

In the latest smog-related health scare in China, officials in Shanghai on Friday ordered schoolchildren to stay indoors, halted all construction and even delayed flights in and out of the city, which has been enveloped in a thick blanket of haze, reducing visibility in places to less than 150 feet.

NPR's Frank Langfitt reports from Shanghai that the commercial capital's Air Quality Index soared above 500 for the first time ever, according to government sensors. He says officials described the readings as "beyond index" — in layman's terms, off-the-charts awful.

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The Salt
1:10 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

What Separates A Healthy And Unhealthy Diet? Just $1.50 Per Day

A Safeway customer browses in the fruit and vegetable section at Safeway in Livermore, Calif.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 8:09 am

If you want to eat a more healthful diet, you're going to have to shell out more cash, right? (After all, Whole Foods didn't get the nickname "Whole Paycheck" for nothing.)

But until recently, that widely held bit of conventional wisdom hadn't really been assessed in a rigorous, systematic way, says Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health.

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Shots - Health News
2:14 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Teens Who Feel Supported At Home And School Sleep Better

Solid friendships can help buffer life's stress.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 5:31 am

A teen's relationship — or lack of good relationship — with parents, pals or teachers may have a lot to do with why most kids aren't getting the nine to 10 hours of sleep that doctors recommend. The hormonal disruptions of puberty likely also play a role.

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Shots - Health News
4:17 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Fertility Drugs, Not IVF, Are Top Cause Of Multiple Births

Nurses tend newborns at Sloane Hospital for Women in New York City.
Pat Carroll Getty

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 8:29 am

Drugs that help women become pregnant have replaced in vitro fertilization as the main culprit behind high-risk multiple births, according to a study looking at births of triplets and higher-order multiples.

"IVF, which is usually the one we tend to point fingers at, was not the leading culprit," says Eli Adashi, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Brown University who was senior author of the study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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The Salt
4:05 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

These Days, School Lunch Hours Are More Like 15 Minutes

Students at Lowell High School in Michigan sit down for lunch. Shorter lunch breaks mean that many kids don't get enough time to eat and socialize.
Emily Zoladz Landov

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 8:09 am

It's lunchtime at Oakland High School in Oakland, Calif., and that means fence hoppers. Several kids wear mischievous grins as they speedily scale a 12-foot-high metal perimeter.

In theory, anyway, Oakland High is a "closed campus." That's done in the interest of safety and security and to cut down on school-skipping. It means kids can't leave during school hours without parental consent, especially at lunchtime. But it doesn't stop several students from breaking out.

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Shots - Health News
1:54 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Parents Of Sleep-Deprived Teens Push For Later School Start Times

Maggie Starbard / NPR

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 4:32 pm

Cristina Sevin knows the drill. Her 15-year-old son Isaac's first alarm goes off at 6:05 a.m.

When he sleeps right through it, Mom starts the nudging. But she also has to wake up 16-year-old Lily. She flips on the bedroom lights. "Lily, you gotta get up!"

They have to be out the door before 6:35 a.m. in their Annapolis, Md., neighborhood in order to catch the bus for a 7:17 school start. "I wish I didn't have to be awake right now," says Lily.

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Shots - Health News
1:53 am
Mon December 2, 2013

School Stress Takes A Toll On Health, Teens And Parents Say

Colleen Frainey, 16, of Tualatin, Ore., cut back on advanced placement classes in her junior year because the stress was making her physically ill.
Toni Greaves for NPR

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 4:35 pm

When high school junior Nora Huynh got her report card, she was devastated to see that she didn't get a perfect 4.0.

Nora "had a total meltdown, cried for hours," her mother, Jennie Huynh of Alameda, Calif., says. "I couldn't believe her reaction."

Nora is doing college-level work, her mother says, but many of her friends are taking enough advanced classes to boost their grade-point averages above 4.0. "It breaks my heart to see her upset when she's doing so awesome and going above and beyond."

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Shots - Health News
5:07 pm
Fri November 29, 2013

Popping A Baby Out Like A Cork, And Other Birth Innovations

The Odon Device was inspired by a YouTube video about how to remove a cork from the inside of a wine bottle.
The Odon Device

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 3:59 pm

An invention to help with obstructed labor has turned some heads — and not just because the idea came from a party trick on YouTube.

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Shots - Health News
5:01 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Yes, Your Toddler Really Is Smarter Than A 5-Year-Old

Children under age 2 can reason abstractly, researchers say.
Jandrie Lombard iStock

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 12:42 pm

Parents, does your 18-month-old seem wise beyond her years? Science says you're not fooling yourself.

Very small children can reason abstractly, researchers say, and are able to infer the relationships between objects that elude older children who get caught up on the concreteness of things.

In experiments at the University of California, Berkeley, children as young as 18 months were able to figure out the relationship between colored blocks.

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Parallels
9:04 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Can Child Marriages Be Stopped?

Christina Asima says she had no choice but to marry last year at age 12 to help care for younger siblings after her mother abandoned the family. But she says her husband was abusive, so she left him, and now must look after her 8-month-old son, Praise, alone.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 5:05 pm

Christina Asima seems tired for a 13-year-old. I meet the shy-mannered girl in the remote farming village of Chitera, in the southern African nation of Malawi. She wears a bright pink zip-up shirt and a blue print cloth wrapped up to her chest. Snuggled in that, hugging her side, is a chubby-cheeked baby boy.

My gut assumption is that the infant must be Christina's little brother. I know 8-month-old Praise is actually her son. Still, it's startling when, as we speak, she shifts him around front to nurse.

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Shots - Health News
1:54 am
Mon November 25, 2013

In Pregnancy, What's Worse? Cigarettes Or The Nicotine Patch?

Illustration by Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 12:41 pm

Lots of studies have shown that cigarette smoke isn't good for a fetus. So many pregnant women use nicotine gum or skin patches or inhalers to help them stay away from cigarettes.

A few years ago, Megan Stern became one of those women. "I smoked heavily for the first seven weeks of my pregnancy because I didn't know I was pregnant," she says. "It was an accidental pregnancy, and I found out while I was in the emergency room for another issue."

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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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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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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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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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Parenting
11:17 am
Tue November 19, 2013

China Eases One Child Policy, What's Next?

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Technology
5:10 pm
Sun November 17, 2013

Laboring In The Shadows To Keep The Web Free Of Child Porn

On Thursday, authorities in Canada announced the bust of an enormous international child pornography operation. It was the end of a three-year investigation into a website that trafficked in illicit videos of young boys. More than 300 people have been arrested in connection with the videos, 76 of them in the United States.

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The Salt
10:29 am
Sun November 17, 2013

See How Food Stamp Cuts Are Hitting Across The U.S.

Screen grab of a map that shows hard numbers about who's getting hit by food stamp cuts.
Stateline

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 3:20 pm

When you think of Oregon and food, you probably think organic chicken, kale chips and other signs of a strong local food movement. What probably doesn't come to mind? Food stamps.

And yet, 21 percent of Oregon's population – that's one out of every five residents – relies on food stamps to get by. And like many people across the country, these Oregon families who have come to rely on federal food assistance program for meals are learning to make do with less as of this month.

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NPR Story
11:14 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Young Maasai Activist Challenges Circumcision Tradition

The African Maasai ethnic group is known for its deep roots in tradition and culture, including rights of passage for men and female circumcision. Now, young Maasai woman Nice Nailantei Leng'ete is crusading for alternative rites of passage and empowering young girls to continue their education in Kenya. She tells Michel Martin how she stood her ground to promote the dangers of female genital cutting.Note: This conversation may not be comfortable for all listeners.

NPR's Backseat Book Club
4:15 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Roald Dahl Wanted His Magical 'Matilda' To Keep Books Alive

Author Roald Dahl stands with his wife, American actress Patricia Neal, and their newborn daughter, Lucy, outside their home in Buckinghamshire, England, in August 1965. Roald Dahl died in 1990.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 9:26 pm

Every night, author Roald Dahl told his children a story: "Most of them [were] pretty bad," he admitted in a 1972 BBC4 interview, "but now and again you'd tell one and you see a little spark of interest. And if they ever said the next night, 'Tell us some more about that one,' you knew you had something. This went on for quite a long time with a story about a peach that got bigger and bigger and I thought, 'Well heck, why don't I write it.' "

That bedtime story became Dahl's first children's book, James and the Giant Peach.

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The Salt
1:41 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Philadelphia Children's Hospital Bars Herbs And Supplements

Dietary supplements are generally defined as vitamins, minerals, herbs and extracts. They're regulated as a unique category of food by the Food and Drug Administration.
iStockphoto.com

One of the nation's largest and oldest children's hospitals is cracking down on parents who bring their kids herbs, extracts or other dietary supplements.

In what it describes as a break from other hospitals, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, or CHOP, last month removed most dietary supplements from its list of approved medicines, and established new policies for administering them.

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Let's Talk Kids
1:00 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

A Firm Foundation

Each morning my little dog and I venture out in our neighborhood for a brisk walk.  She employs her excellent nose to read messages from other dogs, and I try to notice things a little higher up.

Yesterday for the first time I noticed each home’s foundation.  These foundations are primarily concrete of a non-descript color, so as not to take anything away from the lovely paint and siding colors and architectural details of the homes. 

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Shots - Health News
12:33 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Movies Rated PG-13 Feature The Most Gun Violence

Gun violence has become increasingly common in PG-13 movies like The Avengers, released in 2012.
Zade Rosenthal AP

Parents who rely on movie ratings to decide what their children can watch may think that PG-13 films have fewer villains flashing guns than R-rated movies.

But they're wrong.

The PG-13 movies actually show more gun violence, a study finds.

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Shots - Health News
2:36 pm
Sat November 9, 2013

How A California Law To Encourage Vaccination Could Backfire

Public school student Julio Valenzuela, 11, grimaces as he gets a vaccination before the start of the school in Lynnwood, Calif., on Aug. 27. Vaccines are required for school attendance.
ROBYN BECK AFP/Getty Images

California has a new law that's supposed to get more of the state's children vaccinated against measles, whooping cough and other infectious diseases.

But the law has taken a strange turn on its way to being put into action, one that may instead make it easier for parents to exempt their children from required vaccinations.

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