NPR Health

My 8-year-old daughter is a fourth-generation perfectionist. In my family, the trait is matrilineal, so I know from firsthand experience that it has a few advantages. My daughter is likely to pay her bills on time and use semicolons correctly. She will not be intimidated by details. She will have a certain baseline competence that will make her life, in some ways, a great deal easier.

In rural Alaska, providing health care means overcoming a lot of hurdles.

Fickle weather that can leave patients stranded, for one.

Also: complicated geography. Many Alaskan villages have no roads connecting them with hospitals or specialists, so people depend on local clinics and a cadre of devoted primary care doctors.

I followed one young family physician, Dr. Adam McMahan, on his regular weekly visit to the clinic in the village of Klukwan.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Friday News Roundup - Domestic

May 12, 2017

With guest host John Donvan.

The controversial firing of FBI Director James Comey dominated the news this week. Guest host John Donvan and a panel of journalists discuss that and other happenings around the U.S., including the Texas governor’s ban on sanctuary cities and how Shaquille O’Neal might do as a sheriff.

Guests

Susan Davis, congressional correspondent, NPR

David Leonhardt, op-ed columnist, The New York Times; former editor, The Upshot, a New York Times website covering politics and policy

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Inflatable beds can be cheap, which is good news for consumers who want an alternative to pricey traditional mattresses. But their uneven, soft, impermeable surfaces are dangerous for babies, and can increase the risk of sudden infant death.

The dangers may be particularly acute for low-income families, a recent essay in the American Journal of Public Health argues.

#fakenews isn't just a U.S. thing. And it isn't just about politics. In India people are putting their health at risk by following spurious advice dispensed on forwards on Whatsapp, the phone-based messaging app.

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Forgiveness.

About Sue Klebold's TED Talk

Sue Klebold's son Dylan was one of the two shooters at Columbine High School. Nearly 20 years later, she talks about her struggle to understand his actions, and to find forgiveness.

About Sue Klebold

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Forgiveness.

About Elizabeth Lesser's TED Talk

Before donating bone marrow to her sister — Elizabeth Lesser and her sister undertook a process of seeking forgiveness from each other. She says forgiveness is hard but necessary for our well-being.

About Elizabeth Lesser

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Forgiveness.

About Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger's TED Talk

Tom Stranger raped Thordis Elva when they were dating in high school. Years later, they started a painful and painstaking dialogue about accountability and reconciliation.

About Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger

As a neonatal intensive care nurse, Lauren Bloomstein had been taking care of other people's babies for years. Finally, at 33, she was expecting one of her own. The prospect of becoming a mother made her giddy, her husband, Larry, recalled recently— "the happiest and most alive I'd ever seen her."

In March, President Trump called opioid abuse in the U.S. "a total epidemic," and issued an executive order creating a commission focused on combating the opioid crisis.

The number of new Hepatitis C cases leaped nearly 300 percent from 2010 to 2015, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the CDC points to the likely culprit behind the spike in cases of the infectious disease: the use of heroin and other injection drugs.

About 450 million years, animals made one of the most important decisions in Earth's history: They left the wet, nourishing seas and started living on the dry, desolate land.

At that moment, humanity's problems with superbugs probably began.

Scientists at the Broad Institute have found evidence that an important group of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are as old as terrestrial animals themselves.

The White House has nominated Mark Andrew Green to what could be one the toughest jobs in the Trump administration.

The former Republican congressman from Wisconsin has been tapped to run USAID — the U.S. Agency for International Development. If confirmed, the 56-year-old Green will take over USAID at a time when global humanitarian crises are mounting. And he'll have to answer to a president who's been openly hostile to handing out American taxpayer dollars abroad.

Across the development world, Green's nomination has been widely praised.

The battle over alcohol stores in tiny Whiteclay, Neb., has been going on for decades. Home to roughly about a dozen people, the town has been called a "rural skid row." Images of Lakota people openly drinking in town or staggering drunk on its streets are commonplace.

But now, that easy access to alcohol is gone.

At a town hall meeting in Willingboro, N.J., on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur was confronted by angry constituents who demanded to know how the Republican health care bill that he helped write would affect rape victims.

A young man named Joseph said he understood that the bill would allow insurance companies to deem rape a pre-existing condition and deny coverage to people who have been raped.

Smell, the thinking goes, is not our strongest sense. Our lowly noses are eclipsed by our ability to see the world around us, hear the sound of music and feel the touch of a caress. Even animals, we're taught, have a far more acute sense of smell than we do.

But one scientist argues the idea of an inferior sense of smell stems from a 19th-century myth.

Cholera can kill a person in a matter of hours.

It's a severe gastrointestinal disease that can trigger so much diarrhea and vomiting that patients can rapidly become dehydrated. They lose so much fluid that their internal organs shut down.

Arthroscopic Surgery Doesn't Help With Arthritis Knee Pain

May 11, 2017

An international panel of surgeons and patients has challenged the effectiveness of one of the most common orthopedic procedures and recommended strongly against the use of arthroscopic surgery for patients with degenerative knee problems.

If, like many of us, you are reading this article on the toilet — then we've caught you at the perfect time.

When you're done with your business, perhaps you'll do a thorough hand washing. Or maybe just a quick rinse. Or maybe you'll skip it altogether.

Failure to wash is a problem for ordinary folks. Germs on your unwashed hands can get into your body when you touch, say, your eyes or mouth. And into your food, too.

Why Do Children Love Those Fad Toys So?

May 10, 2017

First, it was Pokémon. Then came a special trick yo-yo, Magic: The Gathering cards, and some kind of "thinking putty." Over time, my 9-year-old's obsessions have changed. But one thing has remained consistent: When he wants something, he really, really wants it — often because, in his words, "everyone else has one."

Drug resistant tuberculosis is expected to increase globally over the next two decades.

New research predicts a steady rise in TB cases that can't be cured with conventional, first-line antibiotics in four countries.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention forecast that these complicated — and potentially deadly — cases of TB will become far more common in Russia, India, the Philippines and South Africa by the year 2040.

Town hall meetings got loud for some Republican members of Congress this week, as they defended the passage of the American Health Care Act by the House of Representatives. Constituents have been asking a lot of questions, and we've been fact-checking the answers given by some leading GOP lawmakers.

Tom Reed, R-N.Y., at a town hall meeting in his district

"The pre-existing reform is not repealed by this legislation."

Fact check: That's not the whole truth

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The United States spends a lot of money taking care of the health needs of old people.

In 2010, for example, each person 65 and older received $18,424 in health care services. That's five times more than the $3,628 in spending per child under 18, and three times more than the $6,125 per working-age adult, according to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.

If you hear rock star Rod Stewart's husky voice in a radio spot imploring you to get your thyroid checked for cancer, don't be seduced.

An industry-backed foundation has been putting out that message, with Stewart as a celebrity spokesman, but it's not based on sound science. No major medical organization recommends mass screening for thyroid cancer.

Casey Raub can easily deadlift over 100 pounds — not thanks to the gym, but from his work as a bartender at ever-packed Brooklyn brunch hotspot Five Leaves. Raub, 35, regularly hoists heavy boxes of liquor and massive buckets of ice for an endless stream of gin gimlets and grapefruit margaritas. Two and a half years ago, he was injured in a cycling accident, and his work routine only compounded his back pain.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Almost 100 hospitals reported suspicious data on dangerous infections to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services officials, but the agency did not follow up or examine any of the cases in depth, according to a report by the Health and Human Services inspector general's office.

Most hospitals report how many infections strike patients during treatment, meaning the infections are likely contracted inside the facility. Each year, Medicare is supposed to review up to 200 cases in which hospitals report suspicious infection-tracking results.

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