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. 

From Texas Standard:

In the 1950s and '60s, the U.S. battled the Soviet Union in the race to conquer space. American presidents told the nation that beating Russia was a both a scientific and a national security imperative. Today, there’s a new kind of technology race underway that most people have never even heard about. And the stakes are high.

When Kirstin Herbst found out she was pregnant last winter, she and her fiancé were overjoyed. But when she went to the doctor for her first ultrasound, she found out she was having a miscarriage.

Her doctor prescribed a medication called misoprostol, which helps the miscarriage to pass. But the misoprostol didn't work right away, and Herbst needed to take another dose.

Herbst was optimistic when she became pregnant again this past summer. When she went in for an ultrasound, she learned she was miscarrying again.

From Texas Standard:

Life on earth requires certain elements. Humans need oxygen, for example, among many other things. But as we increasingly explore other parts of our universe, researchers are trying to determine whether the signs of life we take for granted here on our planet might be different elsewhere.

If you’re a new parent trying to communicate with your infant, you may have tried baby sign language: specialized gestures babies can learn to communicate words like “hungry,” “thirsty” and “more.”

There’s a huge market for books, classes and smartphone apps that teach baby sign language and claim that it can speed up spoken language development — and even boost a baby’s IQ. But there’s not very much research to support those claims.

Texas has reported the most cases nationwide of a mysterious polio-like illness in 2018.

The Department of State Health Services said there were 27 cases of acute flaccid myelitis throughout the state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Ohio had the next highest number of cases with 12.


Losing weight one to two pounds a week allows your body to adjust easier to the change.
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For many, a list of New Year’s resolutions tends to include losing weight. Before considering diets, gyms, expensive equipment and tech gadgets, a local dietitian offers some sensible ideas to help with weight reduction.

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When it's cold outside, alcohol might feel like a way to fend off the winter chill, but health care experts warn alcohol and cold weather can be a bad combination if you’re not careful.

How The Federal Shutdown Is Affecting Health Programs

Jan 3, 2019

There seems to be no end in sight for the current partial government shutdown, the third since the beginning of the Trump administration.

For the vast majority of the federal government's public health efforts, though, it's business as usual.

When Toni and Jim Hoy adopted their son Daniel through the foster care system, he was an affectionate toddler. They did not plan to give him back to the state of Illinois, ever.

"Danny was this cute, lovable little blond-haired, blue-eyed baby," Jim says.

Toni recalls times Daniel would reach over, put his hands on her face and squish her cheeks. "And he would go, 'You pretty, Mom,' " Toni says. "Oh my gosh, he just melted my heart when he would say these very loving, endearing things to me."

Andrea Hernandez ended up in a McAllen hospital after a drunken driver hit the car she was in.

“I basically got amnesia because of how hard I hit my head,” the 22-year-old says.

Like many families in Texas, Hernandez’s family is from Mexico. Her father speaks only Spanish, so she says it was valuable that her doctor was from Mexico and spoke Spanish, too.

The holiday season is all about cute. You've got those ads with adorable children and those movies about baby animals with big eyes.

But when people encounter too much cuteness, the result can be something scientists call "cute aggression."

The Health Of The World In 2018, By The Numbers

Dec 28, 2018

At year's end, global health numbers offer reason for both hope and despair.

There is one strong positive note. An overriding public health finding is that people are living longer. "If that's not a bottom line reason for optimism," says Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute and the T.H. Chan School of Public Health, "I don't know what is."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than a quarter of all Hispanic children are obese, and a San Antonio researcher has received a $3 million grant to figure out why.

 


Which Goats and Soda stories were most popular this year?

You loved the stories that looked to the developing world that offered insights into the way we live our lives: how to sit without hurting your back; whether it's OK to sleep with your baby.

KERA / Miguel Perez

A six-person team at Texas Woman's University in Denton designed a special type of shirt that targets lower back pain in astronauts. The students created the garment for NASA's Design Challenge Showcase, a competition that pushes students to solve issues related to space travel. 

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It’s supposed to be a time of joy, but the holiday season can be stressful for some people. However, food, of all things, can help manage that stress.

Like many a cockamamie idea, this one was so crazy, it just might work.

But then again, the Bassler microbiology lab at Princeton University was built on crazy ideas that proved right, like that bacteria talk to one another, says Bonnie Bassler, director of the lab, chair of the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton and investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Dr. Zhijian "James" Chen
UT Southwestern Medical Center

A UT Southwestern Medical Center biochemist was recently named the winner of the 2019 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for his discovery of an enzyme that helps defend against infections and cancers.

UNT Health Science Center

UNT Health Science Center is conducting the first study of a blood test to detect Alzheimer’s disease in a primary care setting.

Jodi Roberts of Plano incorporates gongs into the sound therapy she offers clients.
Courtesy Jodi Roberts

Kris Sands struggled with fibromylagia for seven years. Doctors prescribed medication that treated the symptoms but not the problem. She looked into Pilates and yoga, but those weren’t the right fit either. Then she turned to something called sound therapy.

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Obesity, high blood pressure and a sedentary lifestyle are traditional risk factors for type 2 diabetes, but a new study suggests stress may contribute to the disease in older women.

MRI of a brain with Alzheimer's disease
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A radical new vaccine that reduces the two proteins linked to Alzheimer's disease should give the public hope, says the founding director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Shereese Hickson's multiple sclerosis was flaring again. Spasms in her legs and other symptoms were getting worse.

She could still walk and take care of her son six years after doctors diagnosed the disease, which attacks the central nervous system. Earlier symptoms such as slurred speech and vision problems had resolved with treatment, but others lingered: She was tired and sometimes fell.

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A well-balanced diet touching on all the food groups is considered essential to good health. But it’s possible to boost nutrients if you combine foods with certain vitamins and minerals.

I was having a tough summer.

I was working a day job while writing a book, sometimes pulling 14-hour days. I felt overcome with guilt when I wasn't working toward my deadline. I hardly had time to see friends. Most of my down time was spent in an unhealthy way: scrolling through social media.

I was irritated, isolated and anxious. For the first time in my life, I started going to therapy, which was difficult for me to admit to myself that I needed.

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A flu shot's important for people in general, but it's more important for people with weakened immune systems. That includes women who are pregnant.

When Kathy Klute-Nelson heads out on a neighborhood walk, she often takes her two dogs — Kona, a boxer, and Max, a small white dog of questionable pedigree who barrels out the front door with barks of enthusiasm.

The 64-year-old resident of Costa Mesa, Calif., says she was never one to engage in regular exercise — especially after a long day of work. But about three years ago, her employer, the Auto Club of Southern California, made her and her colleagues an offer she couldn't refuse: Wear a Fitbit, walk every day and get up to $300 off your yearly health insurance premiums.

Child receiving a vaccination in the arm
via Texas Tribune

The next vaccine fight could be coming to a day care near you. Texans for Vaccine Choice, a group focused on anti-vaccine policy, says it has received hundreds of calls and emails from parents of children without vaccines who were rejected by private child care facilities. 

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Flu season began last month and continues through March. If you haven't received your flu shot, here's why you should do so as soon as possible.

From Texas Standard:

You've heard of probiotics. They're the live microorganisms that live in your gut and in foods such as yogurt and dietary supplements. In recent years, they've been touted as beneficial to health, especially to ease digestive disorders. But it turns out probiotics – these so-called "good bacteria" – may not actually be good for all people in all cases. As part of our "Spotlight on Health" project, we're highlighting this new finding published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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