Health/Science/Tech | KERA News

Health/Science/Tech

Every week, KERA explores the latest in health, science and technology in North Texas through two main series, Vital Signs and Breakthroughs.

Charts at UNT Health Science Center's Human Movement Performance Lab.
Credit Stephanie Kuo / KERA News

Vital Signs

In Vital Signs, Sam Baker taps into the expertise of local health care leaders to provide insight into your everyday health and well-being.

Breakthroughs

In Breakthroughs, KERA reporters delve into the latest health-related technologies developed in North Texas and across the state. From the Zika virus to fried chicken, no scientific topic is off limits. 

Learn more in-depth multimedia projects: Surviving Ebola, a look at how Ebola made its way to Dallas and the lessons local hospitals and governments learned; Growing Up After Cancer, the journey of one North Texas boy with cancer; and The Broken Hip, an in-depth look at how a fall can change everything. 

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Public health departments have put together a voluntary national accreditation system to hold themselves accountable to the public. The director of Tarrant County Public Health explains why the designation’s important.

Personal belongings of a homeless person, including an American flag, in Dallas, Sept. 10, 2016
Associated Press

The number of people without a home continues to rise in Dallas and Collin counties. That includes veterans and people sleeping on the street, according findings from the 2019 homeless count.

If you have a bad reaction to a medicine, it might not be the drug itself, but what are called "inactive ingredients" in the pill or capsule.

An article published Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine surveys this field and finds ingredients that are potentially troublesome for some people are ubiquitous.

A group of prominent scientists and bioethicists is calling for a global moratorium on any new attempts to bring gene-edited babies into the world.

"We call for a global moratorium on all clinical uses of human germline editing — that is, changing heritable DNA (in sperm, eggs or embryos) to make genetically modified children," the 18 scientists and bioethicists from seven countries write in an article published Wednesday by the journal Nature.

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A recent study found younger women – 35 to 54 – are having more heart attacks. They accounted for nearly a third of all female heart attack patients in recent years.

From Texas Standard:

A global controversy erupted after a Chinese scientist claimed to have used the gene-editing tool CRISPR to manipulate genes in the embryos of twin girls to try to boost their resistance to HIV. The idea of gene editing goes back to at least the 1960s, and it’s the topic of the new documentary “Human Nature,” which will premiere at the South by Southwest festival in Austin this month.

Instead of eating a typical breakfast every day, Jonah Reeder gulps down a special protein shake.

"The nutrients in it like to sit at the bottom, so I usually have to shake it up and get all the nutrients from the protein and everything," says Reeder, 21, of Farmington, Utah, as he shakes a big plastic bottle.

Steven Senne/Associated Press

Dr. Leana Wen is no stranger to working under pressure. As an emergency physician, she was charged with making life-or-death decisions about her patients' health. Now, as president of Planned Parenthood, she's at the helm of one of the nation's most polarizing health care and advocacy groups. 

Primary care doctors are really good at checking seniors' cholesterol levels and blood pressure but often fail to use tests that could detect dementia.

Fewer than half of primary care doctors surveyed say they routinely test patients 65 and older for problems with memory and thinking, according to a report released Tuesday by the Alzheimer's Association.

There's strong new evidence that a common childhood vaccine is safe.

A large study released Monday finds no evidence that the vaccine that protects against measles, mumps and rubella increases the risk of autism. The study of children born in Denmark is one of the largest ever of the MMR vaccine.

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Energy drinks have been linked to heart, nerve and stomach problems. A recent study suggests consuming even one can might affect how well your blood vessels function, too. 

A measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
Associated Press

Nearly 200 immigrants are suffering from mumps at detention facilities across Texas, according to a state health agency.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings speaking at Dallas City Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019.
Syeda Hasan / KERA

The city of Dallas has joined forces with nonprofit North Texas Alliance to Reduce Unintended Pregnancy in Teens — or Ntarupt — to try to cut down on its staggering teen birth rate. 

Many of the people who care for disabled Texans don’t earn a living wage. Charlotte Stewart is executive director of REACH, a nonprofit that advocates for people with disabilities. She has a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis, and she's helping lead the fight to boost pay for aides funded by Medicaid. They’re known as community attendants.

Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital

You probably thought no one makes house calls anymore. But a select group of paramedics in Arlington are making home visits to chronically-ill patients.

flag-draped coffin - veteran suicide
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A recent report from the Washington Post, titled "The Parking Lot Suicides," looks into the disturbing trend of veterans dying by suicide on the property of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. A North Texas nonprofit has developed a program to combat veteran suicides.

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Rates of sexually transmitted diseases – gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia in particular – are soaring in Dallas County. Cases of those three illnesses surged by more than 20 percent last year.

Researchers in San Antonio are recruiting people with mild cognitive impairment for a nationwide study to see if nicotine improves symptoms.

The study is called the MIND study -- Memory Improvement Through Nicotine Dosing.

Dr. Stacia' Alexander and Lakeita Roberts are licensed professional counselors practicing in Dallas. Both are listed in the Therapy for Black Girls online directory.
Syeda Hasan / KERA News

Directories of therapists of color are becoming increasingly popular, like Therapy for Black Girls and the National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network. This trend seems to signal a growing openness toward mental health care among minority communities. Still, Dallas counselors say the work isn't finished.

Medicaid in Texas
Todd Wiseman

Idaho, Maine, Nebraska and Utah voters approved a Medicaid expansion through ballot initiatives. Now Texas legislators have filed bills for a vote over whether the state should expand coverage for the joint federal-state health insurance program.

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The U.S. Health and Human Services Department has released a new set of exercise guidelines. It reflects the agency’s new way of thinking about exercise.

Bexar County is seeing more babies born with withdrawal symptoms related to their mothers' opioid addictions. One way hospitals help these babies overcome these often painful symptoms during their first weeks is to recruit volunteers to just cuddle them, touch them and love them. But because of the recent opioid epidemic, there are too many babies and not enough baby cuddlers.

Killer whales, Japanese aphids and Homo sapiens they're among the few organisms whose females live on long past the age of reproduction.

Many vaccines and some medicines, such as insulin, have to be delivered by injection. That's a pain, both for patients and for health care providers. But two groups of researchers are trying to put some of these medications in pill form to avoid the needle.

Trump administration health officials are spelling out their ambitious plan to stop the spread of HIV in the U.S. within the next 10 years.

The plan would target 48 counties where the rate of HIV spread is the highest, along with Washington, D.C., and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Seven states with high rates of HIV in rural areas would also be targeted, including Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Alabama, South Carolina and Mississippi.

"Some people dislike diagnoses, disagreeably calling them boxes and labels," writes Esmé Weijun Wang in the first essay of her new book, The Collected Schizophrenias." [B]ut I've always found comfort in preexisting conditions. I like to know that I'm not pioneering an inexplicable condition."

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, left, listens as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, right, gives his State of the State Address in the House Chamber, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, in Austin, Texas.
Associated Press

Texas Governor Greg Abbott made mental health care one of the primary themes of his State of the State address Tuesday, including more student mental health screenings.

In Texas, a growing number of patients are turning to a little-known state mediation program to deal with unexpected hospital bills.

The bills in question often arrive in patients' mailboxes with shocking balances that run into the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

When patients, through no fault of their own, are treated outside their insurers' network of hospitals, the result can be a surprise bill. Other times, insurers won't agree to pay what the hospital charges, and the patient is on the hook for the balance.

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Using artificial sweeteners is supposed to help avoid health problems related to obesity, but the latest study of them doesn’t make clear if non-sugar sweeteners really help you – or maybe even hurt you.

This image from video provided by Michelob shows a frame from their 2019 Super Bowl commercial for Michelob Ultra Pure Gold. The ad features the actress Zoe Kravitz using techniques for autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR.
Michelob via Associated Press

A new Super Bowl commercial aims to calm frenzied football fans with oddly relaxing images of actress Zoe Kravitz whispering into a pair of microphones and softly tapping on a bottle.

The beer ad already has drawn more than 10 million views and stands to expose a vast audience to an internet craze known as ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response.

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