Health

Health
11:48 am
Wed February 11, 2015

Panel Says Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Is A Disease, And Renames It

Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 8:14 am

The mysterious and complicated illness that has been called chronic fatigue syndrome has a new definition and a new name: systemic exertion intolerance disease, or SEID for short.

The name change is big news because many patients and experts in the field hate the name chronic fatigue syndrome; they feel that it trivializes the condition. Another name, myalgic encephalomyelitis, has been used in Canada, the United Kingdom and elsewhere, but it doesn't accurately describe the illness, either.

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Health
4:54 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

Pregnant With Cancer: One Woman's Journey

Mary Harris was relieved when Stella was born with a mop of thick black hair, as if she had been protected from the chemo somehow.
Courtesy of Howard Harris

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 2:25 pm

After years of debating whether to have a second child, my husband, Mark, and I decided to give it a try. Two weeks later, we found a lump. I was 35.

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Health
8:59 am
Tue February 10, 2015

Senegal's Pharmacies Are Much, Much Better Than Your Local Drugstore

A sampling of the 1,000-plus pharmacies in Senegal.
Courtesy of Donna Patterson

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 9:25 am

Senegal is full of tourist attractions: sandy beaches, historic buildings, religious sites. But when historian Donna Patterson visits, she heads to the drugstore.

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Health
8:22 am
Tue February 10, 2015

Is Now The Time To Fix Rather Than Scrap Obamacare?

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, leaves the chamber Feb. 3 after another House vote to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 10:32 am

Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, "repeal and replace" has been the rallying cry for Republicans who opposed it. But now that most of the law's provisions have taken effect, some health experts are pitching ways to tweak it, rather than eliminate it.

An ideologically diverse panel at the National Health Policy Conference on Monday presented different ideas to make the law work better. But the panelists agreed on one thing: The Affordable Care Act is too complicated.

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Health
3:35 am
Tue February 10, 2015

Insurers And Austin Mayor Promote Obamacare To Texas Latinos

Blue Cross Blue Shield takes aim at Target — or, rather, at Target shoppers in San Antonio who might be interested in buying health insurance.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 11:39 am

More than 900,000 Texans have signed up for health insurance so far this year – about 200,000 more than last year. The deadline for signing up for a health plan on HealthCare.gov is Sunday, and some groups in south Texas are making a big push to get Latinos to enroll.

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Health
5:26 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Better Bath Rituals Is One Way Bangladesh Is Saving Its Newborns

Rong Mala, 30, holds her 6-day-old child, Rakhal, as she waits to see the paramedic at a government clinic in Bangladesh.
CJ Clarke Save the Children

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 7:36 pm

Across the world, a child's survival is a lot like drawing a lottery ticket. Factors based purely on chance — where a child is born, how much money his or her family has and what their ethnic background is — can determine if a child lives past age 5.

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Health
4:05 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Son's Rare Cancer Leads Family On Quest For Cure

Kathy Liu and her son Joey Xu talk to friends back home in Gainesville, Fla., from his hospital room in Cincinnati.
Amanda Aronczyk/WNYC

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 6:50 pm

Treating cancer is a race against time.

Every once in a while, there's an experimental drug that's so promising it makes the race even more urgent. Patients and their families plead with pharmaceutical companies to get it before the Food and Drug Administration's approval.

The demand has been particularly high for a new class of drugs that harnesses the immune system to fight cancer.

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Health
10:56 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Measles Vaccination Rates: Tanzania Does Better Than U.S.

This World Health Organization map shows the percent of the population vaccinated for measles in each country in 2013. Dark green is at least 90 percent. Light green is 80 to 89 percent. Orange is 50 to 79 percent. Red is less than 50 percent.
Courtesy of WHO

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 2:51 pm

As debate mounts in the U.S. over whether or not to require measles vaccinations, global immunization rates show something interesting: Many poor countries have far higher vaccination rates than rich ones.

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Health
8:54 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Officials Predict More Measles Cases After 5 Babies Are Diagnosed In Illinois

The KinderCare Learning Center in Palatine, Ill., where five infants have been diagnosed with measles. Officials are trying to track down the source of the infection.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 10:42 am

Health officials in Illinois are trying to find the source of a measles infection, after five babies were diagnosed with the contagious respiratory disease in a Chicago suburb. Saying that more cases are likely, a health official warns, "The cat is out of the bag."

Because the Illinois patients are all under a year old, they can't be vaccinated. The new cluster of cases joins more than 100 other reports of measles in 14 states this year; most of them have been traced to an outbreak at Disneyland in California in December.

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Health
3:55 am
Fri February 6, 2015

An Unlikely Alliance Fights HIV In The Bronx's Afro-Honduran Diaspora

A December celebration launching a partnership between members of the Garifuna community and a doctor in New York. The collaboration is aimed at reducing the HIV infection rate among the Garifuna.
Alexandra Starr NPR

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 11:25 am

On a recent winter evening in the Bronx, a group of men and women in red-checkered shirts and dresses encircled Dr. Julie Hoffman during a ceremony. They pounded wooden drums crisscrossed with thick rope and shook maracas as they danced and sang.

The event took on a somber tone when Hoffman talked about the crisis that had brought them all together.

"Too many members of this community continue dying," she said in Spanish. "That's why I'm here. I want to work with you."

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Health
6:13 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Marathon Mania In American History

Marathon Dance contestants, 1923.
Library of Congress

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 12:10 pm

Odd that Americans, long known for their short attention spans and — oh, look, a sparkly thing ... are at the same time manic for marathonic undertakings.

Running, for example. A century ago, scores of marathoners competed before huge wintertime crowds in the 1909 Brooklyn Marathon. Flash forward, and this past November, more than 50,000 participants finished the 2014 New York City Marathon. (Applications for nonguaranteed entry in the 2015 race must be in by Feb. 15.)

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Health
4:59 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Why Is Nearsightedness Skyrocketing Among Chinese Youth?

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 3:24 pm

If you walk the streets of China today, you'll quickly notice that most young people wear glasses. In Shanghai, for instance, 86 percent of high school students suffer from myopia, or nearsightedness, according to the government's Xinhua News Agency.

Myopia has risen quickly in much of East Asia and Southeast Asia. And researchers are still trying to pin down exactly what's driving the epidemic.

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Health
3:10 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Most People Getting Measles Are Adults. Time For A Shot?

Jackie Carnegie immunizes Mabel Haywood in a Colorado Health Department immunization van in 1972. Shots for measles and other infectious diseases were offered.
Ira Gay Sealy Denver Post Archive/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 7:27 pm

Most of the 92 cases of measles confirmed in California are among adults — more than 62 percent. Maybe they or their parents chose not to vaccinate, or maybe those people are allergic to one of the ingredients in the measles vaccine.

But it's also possible that a few of those adults happened to slip through the cracks when the measles vaccine first came to the public.

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Health
11:09 am
Wed February 4, 2015

New Clues To Mysterious Kidney Disease Afflicting Sugar Cane Workers

A new study finds that strenuous labor in the sugar cane fields of Central America is contributing to a mysterious form of kidney failure. Above: Workers harvest sugar cane in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 11:48 am

Something is destroying the kidneys of farm workers along the Pacific coast of Central America. Over the past two decades, more than 20,000 people in western Nicaragua and El Salvador — mostly men and many of them in their 20s and 30s — have died of a mysterious form of kidney failure. Researchers have been able to say definitively that it's not diabetes or other common causes of kidney failure.

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Health
1:51 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

Fingertips To Hair Follicles: Why 'Touch' Triggers Pleasure And Pain

David Linden is a professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and is a former chief editor of the Journal of Neurophysiology. He also wrote The Compass of Pleasure.
Jacob Linden Courtesy of Viking

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 4:39 pm

The rate at which someone strokes your hair can cause feelings of pleasure or annoyance — too slow is repulsive, too fast is annoying, and just right soothes.

There's a scientific explanation for this: People have special nerve endings (wrapped around the base of hair follicles) that detect the deflection of the hairs.

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Health
11:42 am
Mon February 2, 2015

As America Grays, A Call For Dignity In Aging And Elder Care

The baby boomers are getting older: This year, 4 million people in America will turn 65.

In her new book, The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America, author Ai-jen Poo says that means the country is on the cusp of a major shift.

"The baby boom generation is reaching retirement age at a rate of 10,000 people per day," she tells NPR's Arun Rath. "What that means is that by 2050, 27 million Americans will need some form of long-term care or assistance, and that's the basis for this book."

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Health
9:13 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Rise In Measles Cases Marks A 'Wake-Up Call' For U.S.

Aly Hurt/NPR

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 1:26 pm

After a few cases here and there, measles is making a big push back into the national consciousness.

An outbreak linked to visitors to the Disneyland Resort Theme Parks in Orange County, Calif., has sickened 67 people in California and six other states according to the latest count from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Health
2:42 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Why Teens Are Impulsive, Addiction-Prone And Should Protect Their Brains

Dr. Frances Jensen is a professor and chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.
Courtesy of Harper Collins

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 1:26 pm

Teens can't control impulses and make rapid, smart decisions like adults can — but why?

Research into how the human brain develops helps explain. In a teenager, the frontal lobe of the brain, which controls decision-making, is built but not fully insulated — so signals move slowly.

"Teenagers are not as readily able to access their frontal lobe to say, 'Oh, I better not do this,' " Dr. Frances Jensen tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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Health
5:04 am
Mon January 26, 2015

High Schools Seek A Safer Path Back From Concussion

High school athlete Graham Hill, number 50, suffered a concussion in 2013 while playing football at Trinity Christian Academy in Addison, Texas.
Courtesy of Jeffrey McWhorter

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 10:53 am

Nearly half of all reported sports concussions occur during a high school football game or practice. And even when injured bodies are ready to get back on the field, injured brains might not be ready to return to class.

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Health
3:03 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Scientists Give Genetically Modified Organisms A Safety Switch

Scientists reprogrammed the common bacterium E. coli so it requires a synthetic amino acid to live.
BSIP UIG via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 7:37 pm

Researchers at Harvard and Yale have used some extreme gene-manipulation tools to engineer safety features into designer organisms.

This work goes far beyond traditional genetic engineering, which involves moving a gene from one organism to another. In this case, they're actually rewriting the language of genetics.

The goal is to make modified organisms safer to use, and also to protect them against viruses that can wreak havoc on pharmaceutical production.

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