NPR Health

Nearly a quarter of the residents of Baltimore lack adequate access to healthy food. For many, the nearest grocery stores are minimarts with limited produce. And lower incomes affect the ability of people to afford healthier food, according to a study by Johns Hopkins that looked at the regions of the city where the need for more healthy food options is the greatest.

When journalist Maya Dusenbery was in her 20s, she started experiencing progressive pain in her joints, which she learned was caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

As she began to research her own condition, Dusenbery realized how lucky she was to have been diagnosed relatively easily. Other women with similar symptoms, she says, "experienced very long diagnostic delays and felt ... that their symptoms were not taken seriously."

It's 3 a.m. You wake up abruptly with a bad case of dry mouth. You drag yourself out of bed and begin fumbling in the dark to get a glass of water.

You flip on the light switch, and there it is — a brown flash. A cockroach skitters across the counter.

Did reading this disgust you?

It may seem instinctive to recoil in horror after seeing a roach in your kitchen. But psychologist Rachel Herz argues that it's not.

New research finds that fentanyl is far more common than heroin in overdose deaths in Indianapolis and that blacks are particularly affected.

In 2017, nearly half of the people who died from an overdose in Marion County, where Indianapolis is located, had fentanyl in their system. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 100 times stronger than morphine.

When Allison Matthews was pregnant with her first child four years ago, her obstetrics clinic scheduled frequent appointments to make sure everything was proceeding normally.

"I was taking time off work and it wasn't doing a lot for me," says Matthews, who was considered at low risk for complications like pregnancy-related high blood pressure, also known as preeclampsia. "I kind of felt like I was almost doing it more for the clinic's benefit than for myself."

Abraham Haileamlak is a professor of pediatric cardiology at Jimma University in Ethiopia. He's also the editor-in-chief of the Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences, a peer-reviewed journal.

Dr. Haileamlak does research on children's health and rheumatic heart disease. But when he shares his studies with journals based in high-income countries, he's often greeted with surprise.

"They say they do not expect such quality research from a low-income country," he says.

The development of antibiotics in the middle of the 20th century was one of the greatest achievements of modern medicine. Penicillin and its pharmaceutical cousins saved millions of lives. But like a magic potion given to the world by a stern fairy, antibiotics come with a catch — If you abuse them, you lose them.

For decades, scientists have been warning that antibiotic resistance is on the rise globally because of misuse of the drugs.

But a new report makes it clear that the world is not listening.

Adam Frank is a co-founder of the 13.7 blog, an astrophysics professor at the University of Rochester and author of the upcoming book Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth. His scientific studies are funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA and the Department of Education.

It's a blustery day in the border town of Mexicali in Baja California, Mexico, and five men are huddled inside a makeshift encampment covered with protest signs outside the city's government offices. The intense wind makes the tarps serving as walls flap loudly, like Batman's cape as he propels down a building. And just like Batman, they say they're there for justice.

Rachel Ralph works long hours at an accounting firm in Oakland, Calif., and coordinates much of her life via the apps on her phone.

So when she first heard several months ago that she could order her usual brand of birth control pills via an app and have them delivered to her doorstep in a day or two, it seemed perfect. She was working 12-hour days.

"Food was delivered; dinner was often delivered," Ralph says. "Anything I could get sent to my house with little effort — the better."

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How Fast Can An Outbreak Be Detected?

Mar 23, 2018

How do you stop an outbreak from becoming an epidemic?

You catch it early, of course – a task that requires rapid response and coordination. That's a tough mission in any country, especially a nation lacking in resources.

Uganda is proving that it's absolutely doable, even in a low-income country.

Iron has always struck me as the nutritional equivalent of Stanley Tucci: It's frequently popping up in unexpected places, and experts say that's a good thing.

Government health agencies have spent more than two decades shying away from gun violence research, but some say the new spending bill, signed by President Trump on Friday, will change that.

That is because, in agency instructions that accompany the bill, there is a sentence noting that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the authority to conduct research on the causes of gun violence.

When Allison Ruddick was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer in October 2014, she turned to the world of hashtags.

After her initial diagnosis it wasn't clear if the cancer had metastasized, so she was in for a nerve-wracking wait, she says. She wanted outside advice. "But they don't really give you a handbook, so you search kind of anywhere for answers," Ruddick says. "Social media was one of the first places I went."

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

To reach the Martinez home in Puerto Rico's central mountains, social worker Eileen Calderon steers around piles of dirt, treacherous potholes and power company trucks that block the road. Finally, we pull up to a sagging cement home, the roof done in by Hurricane Maria. Laundry hangs under a tarp, and a cat is tied to a leash outside the door.

Forget all your preconceptions about how the world has changed over the past several decades. Here's all the data you need in a shiny new tool that tracks the planet's progress toward becoming a better place for everyone.

Welcome to a new season of Invisibilia! The NPR program and podcast explores the invisible forces that shape human behavior. Episode 3 involves two brothers who are happy about the polite, helpful tenant who moves into their mother's house, until they start to suspect he has sinister motives.

A federal regulator has cited a Baltimore hospital for breaches of federal regulatory requirements, after a passerby shot a video of a confused patient in a hospital gown being taken by guards to a bus stop on a cold night in January.

The disturbing video prompted broader questions about the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus's treatment of emergency room patients.

Scratch another Guinea worm hot spot off the list.

One of the countries hardest hit with the parasite — South Sudan — has finally stopped transmission, the Carter Center announced Wednesday.

The country reported zero cases in 2017 and hasn't had a case in 15 months. There are also no signs Guinea worm is circulating in dogs in South Sudan, as it is in Chad and Mali.

When Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler announced that scientists had discovered the virus that caused AIDS at a press conference in 1984, the disease was still mysterious and invariably fatal.

The Affordable Care Act very nearly failed to become law back in 2010 because of a dispute among Democrats over how to handle abortion in the bill.

Now a similar argument between Democrats and Republicans is slowing progress on a bill that could help cut soaring premiums and help stabilize the ACA.

At issue is the extent to which the Hyde Amendment — language commonly used by Congress to prohibit most federal abortion funding — should be incorporated into any new legislation affecting the health law.

Talking About Periods in Public

Mar 20, 2018

"Shark week," "Aunt Flo," "Carrie at the prom" — these are a few common nicknames for periods, according to Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, author of Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity. But the list is far from exhaustive: "There are something like 5,000 euphemisms for periods," she says.

When Roger Severino tells his story, discrimination is at its heart.

"I did experience discrimination as a child. And that leaves a lasting impression," he tells me.

Severino directs the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. When I meet with him at his office in the shadow of the Capitol, he talks about his childhood as the son of Colombian immigrants growing up in Los Angeles.

It was November 2014, and I was working on a feature story about a hot new blood-testing company in Silicon Valley that promised to "disrupt" the lab industry with new technology.

The company, Theranos, claimed its new finger-prick test would be a cheap and less painful way to run tests with just a few drops of blood. Old-fashioned venous blood draws, where the patient watches as vial after vial of blood is collected, would quickly become obsolete, Theranos promised.

In Robin Dando's lab, several mice chowed down on a specialized diet designed to make them as fat as possible. "I can say the mice are happy. They love this unhealthy diet, and pretty fast they get pretty overweight," says Dando, an assistant professor of food science at Cornell University.

But the mice were not long for this world. Eight weeks after they started their delicious nosh, they were euthanized and their tongues were excised for direct comparison against their skinnier brethren.

This year's World Happiness Report doesn't have too many surprises — Scandinavian countries occupy many of the smiliest slots. But there's a West African country that's getting rave reviews for its happiness. Togo, which ranked at the very bottom of the 2015 World Happiness Report, comes in this year as the "biggest gainer," the report says. That means Togo is the country with the most-improved level of happiness in the world.

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