NPR Health

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

In a small, windowless room at Johns Hopkins University, pigtail macaques jump around in cages. The braver ones reach out between the metal bars to accept pieces of apricot with their long fingers.

In one cage, a monkey hangs back in the corner. At first it looks like he's all alone in there, until veterinarian Bob Adams points out, "No, he's got a friend." Another monkey is clinging to his back, almost hidden.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Piece By Piece: The End Of Obamacare

3 hours ago

There’s a better way to offer health insurance to Americans, according to the president.

The Justice Department said Tuesday that it has indicted two Chinese nationals suspected of manufacturing and then distributing in the U.S. a synthetic opioid that officials say kills thousands of Americans every year.

The two suspects, Xiaobing Yan and Jian Zhang, face a raft of charges, including conspiracy to distribute large quantities of fentanyl and drugs with a similar chemical makeup in the U.S. through the mail or international delivery services.

People who have obsessive-compulsive disorder can get trapped inside a thought. It repeats itself, like a stuck song. Did I lock the door? Is that doorknob clean enough to touch? I better wash my hands again — and again.

The biology underpinning this loop remains murky to scientists, but scientists are beginning to sniff out potential genetic factors behind OCD and shed light on how the disorder affects the brain.

Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., has withdrawn his name from consideration as America's drug czar, President Trump said Tuesday. Marino is stepping back days after reports that legislation he sponsored hindered the Drug Enforcement Administration in its fight against the U.S. opioid crisis.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Rob Vos has been tracking global hunger for years, and he says until recently the mood among his fellow hunger experts was almost giddy.

Since 1990 the world had made so much progress curbing hunger that in 2015, leaders met at the United Nations and vowed to eliminate hunger for good by 2030.

India is set to celebrate Diwali this week, but the Indian capital could be in for a different sort of celebration.

Once illuminated with clay lamps, the festival of lights has morphed into a festival of sound and fury.

It's estimated some 50,000 tons of fireworks are exploded during Diwali, which marks the homecoming of the Hindu god Lord Ram from exile. But a public health alarm was sounded in Delhi after Diwali last year, when a toxic haze blanketed the city for days.

The Trump administration has made a number of changes to health policy in the past two weeks, raising questions about how consumers will be affected. Will the new rules for birth control coverage affect access to an intrauterine device? Might an association health plan help bring down costs for workers at small businesses? And if you're healthy, doesn't a short-term health plan that is cheaper than marketplace coverage make sense? Here are some answers to those questions.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

I'm Mary Louise Kelly in Washington where in the Rose Garden today President Trump had to defend his nominee to lead the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. That would be the position known as the drug czar.

Your child doesn't want to go to school. It's a daily struggle that many parents are familiar with.

But what if your child refuses to go to school?

Mental health professionals and educators say what used to be considered run-of-the-mill truancy could actually be something else. Some cases of chronic absenteeism are now being called "school refusal," which is triggered by anxiety, depression, family crises and other traumatic events. It can lead to weeks or even months of missed school days.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends an average of eight hours of sleep per night for adults, but sleep scientist Matthew Walker says that too many people are falling short of the mark.

"Human beings are the only species that deliberately deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent gain," Walker says. "Many people walk through their lives in an underslept state, not realizing it."

Brain imaging studies have a diversity problem.

That's what researchers concluded after they re-analyzed data from a large study that used MRI to measure brain development in children from 3 to 18.

Like most brain imaging studies of children, this one included a disproportionate number of kids who have highly educated parents with relatively high household incomes, the team reported Thursday in the journal Nature Communications.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Floating Away Your Anxiety And Stress

Oct 16, 2017

When I mentioned to a friend that my baseline neurosis has evolved from daily stress into anxiety, her response was – "Go for a float!"

A float?

Yes — spend an hour in a dark, soundproof room floating in a body-temperature warm pool. "The heavy salt concentration does the work for you," my friend told me. "You just lie there and meditate."

As a doctor wary of overprescribing medications, I was intrigued by the idea that floating can combat stress and anxiety, but I wanted to know if there's any science to back up this claim.

From fires and hurricanes, to confrontational politics — with all that's been going on, it's no wonder the American Psychological Association found an increase in Americans' stress levels over the last year.

Our constant checking of smartphones — with the bombardment of news and social media — can amp up our anxiety. So, why not use your device to help you disconnect?

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Julayne Smithson was working an overnight shift in the Intensive Care Unit at the Kaiser Permanente hospital in Santa Rosa, Calif., when massive wildfires started racing through the city late last Sunday.

Smithson had no idea how close they were. She was too busy taking care of her patient. Then, she says, "One of the nurses came up to me and she said, 'Julayne, I'm sorry, but your house is not going to make it.'"

Since the beginning of time, humans have been searching for ways to make ourselves feel better fast. Unfortunately, history has shown that many of those ways — cannibalism, cocaine tooth drops, ingesting heavy metals — left us sick, broke, or both. Yet we keep looking for that fast cure.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Among the many buildings destroyed in Northern California wildfires this week, was a nonprofit private school that serves 125 students who have autism.

Anova school — located in Santa Rosa, Calif., inside the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts — serves students age 5 to 22 who have been diagnosed "with high functioning autism, social and emotional challenges, learning differences, and other neurodevelopmental impairments," according to the school website.

Bacquerette woke up early. She made breakfast for her 2-year-old daughter, left the child with her neighbor and started the long walk to the village of Ambohitsara. Bacquerette wanted to make sure she was one of the first people in line for a one-day-only family planning clinic.

She walked almost two hours on footpaths that snake along the sandy bank of the Canal des Pangalanes in eastern Madagascar. And she managed to arrive at the event just after it started.

The 33-year-old single mother had come to get an IUD.

Ingenuity, inspiration, an elaborate ruse and a touch of madness. That is what it took for Zainabu Hamayaji to protect her family from Boko Haram.

The terror network in northeastern Nigeria has killed 20,000 people, abducted thousands more and driven more than 2 million people from their homes during its eight-year insurgency. The 47-year-old mother of 10 — four biological and six orphaned children ranging from age 5 to 15 — had to feign insanity to keep the insurgents away.

Pages