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Health

It's hard for Zachary Lane to wake up in time for school every day.

"I have four alarms set and it still takes me a long time to wake me up," says Lane, a 17-year-old high school junior in Zionsville, Ind.

He says he regularly gets detention for being tardy. "I get to school and I'm talked to like I'm attempting to skip school — like I'm attempting to be truant," he says. "I feel terrible. It's awful."

And when Lane does make it to class on time, he has a hard time focusing.

"I feel kind of like lagging behind myself," he says. "I don't feel totally there."

Public health authorities and infectious disease specialists now say we may not be able to rid the U.S. of the Zika virus. Despite months of intense work — including house to house inspections and aggressive mosquito control — federal, state and local officials have not been able to stop the spread of Zika in Miami.

Yana Shapiro is a partner at a Philadelphia law firm with an exhausting travel schedule and two boys, ages 9 and 4. When she feels run-down from juggling everything and feels a cold coming on, she books an appointment for an intravenous infusion of water, vitamins and minerals.

"Anything to avoid antibiotics or being out of commission," the 37-year-old says.

American lives have been getting steadily longer, and since the 1960s that trend has been driven mostly by a remarkable reduction in heart disease. But those improvements have slowed dramatically. Scientists are now wondering whether we're approaching the end of the trend of longer, healthier lives.

That's because the steady decline in heart disease is fading.

Human viruses are like a fine chocolate truffle: It takes only one to get the full experience.

At least, that's what scientists thought a few days ago. Now a new study published Thursday is making researchers rethink how some viruses could infect animals.

A team at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases has found a mosquito virus that's broken up into pieces. And the mosquito needs to catch several of the pieces to get an infection.

A series of medical images published Tuesday offer the most complete picture, so far, of how the Zika virus can damage the brain of a fetus.

"The images show the worst brain infections that doctors will ever see," says Dr. Deborah Levine, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, who contributed to the study. "Zika is such a severe infection [in fetuses]. Most doctors will have never seen brains like this before."

Editor's note: This is an excerpt from the latest episode of the Invisibilia podcast and program, which is broadcast on participating public radio stations.

Until she was 54 years old, Kim was totally unaware that there were things in the world she couldn't see.

"This was the whole problem," Kim says. "I had no clue what the problem was."

The Obama administration is making a push to get young adults covered on the health insurance marketplaces, both for their own good and that of the marketplaces. The insurance exchanges need healthy people to balance sicker ones in the risk pool.

Despite beefed-up outreach planned for the coming months, several factors may throw a wrench into enrollment plans for young people.

Episiotomy, a once-routine surgical incision made in a woman's vaginal opening during childbirth to speed the baby's passage, has been officially discouraged for at least a decade by the leading association of obstetrician-gynecologists in the United States.

Nonetheless, despite evidence that the procedure is only rarely necessary, and in some cases leads to serious pain and injuries to the mother, it is still being performed at much higher than recommended rates by certain doctors and in certain hospitals.

The latest episode of the podcast Invisibilia explores the idea that personality — something a lot of us think of as immutable — can change over time.

Most children in the United States do not drink enough water, and when it's hot outside, they may need to drink even more.

But getting children to drink water can be a challenge. We spoke with medical experts, coaches, camp counselors and parents to find out how much water kids should drink in the summer, and how adults can help make sure they're getting enough.

How much water should kids drink on a hot day?

The Challenge Of Taking Health Apps Beyond The Well-Heeled

Jun 23, 2016

When you hear the phrase "digital health," you might think about a Fitbit, the healthy eating app on your smartphone, or maybe a new way to email the doctor.

But Fitbits aren't particularly useful if you're homeless, and the nutrition app won't mean much to someone who struggles to pay for groceries. Same for emailing your doctor if you don't have a doctor or reliable Internet access.

Guinea worm is going down. Way down.

From more than 3 million cases of Guinea worm disease a year in the 1980s, the world tally in 2016 stands at just two confirmed cases.

Both are in Chad and are believed to have been contained before they had a chance to spread. (There are also two suspected cases, one in Chad and one in Ethiopia.)

If Guinea worm is pushed into extinction, then Guinea worm disease would be just the second human disease to be eradicated after smallpox.

When you hold a tiny infant in your arms, it's easy to be struck by the fragility of a new human life.

I remember feeling both exhilarated and, at moments, terrified when my oldest son was born. It was such uncharted terrain.

One of the greatest comforts in those early months was watching him thrive and gain weight. I hadn't anticipated the compulsion – the singular focus — on feeding my babe. It was an overwhelming, primal impulse that must be universal among new mothers, right?

An elderly woman died and more than two dozen people were treated for possible rabies exposure after her family failed to realize that a nighttime encounter with a bat put her at risk of rabies.

Last August, the woman awoke in her Wyoming home and felt a bat on her neck. She swatted it away and washed her hands. Her husband captured the bat with gloved hands and released it outside.

Amid a raging opioid epidemic, many doctors and families in the U.S. have been pleading for better treatment alternatives. One option now under consideration by the Food and Drug Administration is a system of implanted rods that offer controlled release of buprenorphine — a drug already used in other forms to treat opioid addiction.

Because it's implanted in the skin, this version of the drug can't easily be sold on the illegal market, proponents say — a key treatment advantage. The FDA is expected to decide whether to approve the device — called Probuphine — within a week.

Single mothers, untenured professors, young reporters and on-call doctors might have a thin silver lining for their hurried days and response for the people who insist on slowing down: All that hustling may translate into superior brain power as you get older, as a study finds that the busiest people perform best on cognitive tests.

It's 2:00 p.m. and you have a few more hours until the end of your workday.

Your eyes sting, your vision is getting blurry and your head hurts. The computer screen that you've been staring at for the past six hours seems so bright that you want to shut your eyes.

Sound familiar? We'd bet yes.

Piotr Le, a Georgetown University grad student, thinks so, too. He used to work in consulting — and that meant staring at a computer screen for 12 or more hours every workday.

Scientists say they have made an atlas of where words' meanings are located in the brain. The map shows that words are represented in different regions throughout the brain's outer layer.

Erika Stallings' mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 28. When it came back in her early 40s, her physicians started looking for clues.

"That's when the doctors realized there may be something genetic going on, and that's when she was tested, and found out she was a carrier for BRCA2," says Stallings.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes. Carrying a mutated BRCA gene increases a person's risk for developing certain cancers, including breast and ovarian cancer.

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