Health/Science/Tech | KERA News


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

University of North Texas Ph.D candidate Ethan McBride prepares the precursor to the illegal drug PCP in a trailer.
Credit Lauren Silverman / 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.


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. 

Abortions in the United States are safe and have few complications, according to a landmark new study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

The report, called "The Safety and Quality of Abortion Care in the United States," examined the four major methods used for abortions — medication, aspiration, dilation and evacuation, and induction — and examined women's care from before they had the procedure through their follow-up care.

The women’s health care program in Texas still has a long way to go.

According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Healthy Texas Women, the state’s family-planning program and the breast exam and cervical cancer screening program served about 250,000 women last year. In 2010, the year before Planned Parenthood was removed from the programs, the state served more than 350,000 women.

Stephanie Kuo / KERA News

Everything from a long commute and local food options to the number of physicians on call and people in poverty affects a community’s overall health.

That’s why the quality of health varies so widely across North Texas.


Minecraft is a popular video game that's sort of like virtual Lego. Players find and build stuff by themselves, or online with friends.

It's a simple formula that's attracted millions of fans — and Southern Methodist University professors.


More than 130 people in North Texas and thousands more across the state have died from the flu this season.

One person in Parker County, 12 people in Denton County, 14 in Collin County, 33 in Tarrant County and 78 in Dallas County have died from the virus.


Some blame their weight gain on slow metabolism, which can affect the ability to keep off extra pounds, but other factors play a role.

Eventually it happens to everyone. As we age, even if we're healthy, the heart becomes less flexible, more stiff and just isn't as efficient in processing oxygen as it used to be. In most people the first signs show up in the 50s or early 60s. And among people who don't exercise, the underlying changes can start even sooner.


Texas health officials are warning athletes and their parents who attended a cheerleading competition in Dallas last month of possible exposure to the mumps.


The debate over government access to personal and private information dates back decades. But it took center stage after the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, when Apple refused to open a backdoor into an assailant's encrypted cell phone for FBI investigators.

The agency ultimately paid a hacker to unlock the phone instead.

There's more bad news about the nation's devastating opioid epidemic.

In just one year, overdoses from opioids jumped by about 30 percent, according to a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A major medical association today suggested that doctors who treat people with Type 2 diabetes can set less aggressive blood sugar targets. But medical groups that specialize in diabetes sharply disagree.

Half a dozen medical groups have looked carefully at the best treatment guidelines for the 29 million Americans who have Type 2 diabetes and have come up with somewhat differing guidelines.


Ovarian cancer affects about 1 percent of women, but it has a high mortality rate — about 14,000 deaths each year. Still, new guidelines recommend women who are not at high risk for the disease should avoid screening for it.

Courtesy of UNT Health Science Center

Advancements in medicine have helped improve the overall health of Americans over the past several decades, but they haven’t benefited everyone.


One option for treating an enlarged prostate in men involves an invasive form of surgery known to have serious side effects. A urologist in North Texas has been certified for a newer, minimally invasive form of treatment called UroLift.

Annie Spratt

On KERA's Think, noted food writer Michael Pollan came to the table to talk about how the things we eat have played a role in the evolution of our societies, economies, and our brains.

Part 3 of a three-part series.

As Texas looks to reduce its maternal mortality rate, there is one aspect of the crisis that is going to be harder to solve: Black women are more likely to die while pregnant or after giving birth than women from other racial or ethnic groups.

Part 2 of a three-part series.

Texas officials have been slow to respond to the state's maternal mortality crisis.

In the last year, lawmakers have passed legislation aimed at improving death certificate data, and they extended the life of a task force investigating why mothers are dying. But advocates are pushing state health officials to do more.

Library of Congress

This flu season is making regular headlines, especially in North Texas, where more than 100 people have died. It doesn't compare to the flu crisis the world endured a century ago, but we can still learn from it. 

Part 1 of a three-part series.

An alarming number of women die while pregnant or shortly after giving birth in Texas. According to national researchers who say the U.S. as a whole has a serious problem, Texas is an “outlier” when it comes to its high rate of maternal deaths.


A new study has found more stroke victims may be saved from disability or death if doctors can remove blood clots that block circulation to the brain. It also found doctors may have more time than originally thought to perform the treatment.


A team at the University of Texas at Dallas is developing a new method to treat pain by disrupting how the body processes it. 

Zachary Campbell researches pain on the molecular level at UT Dallas. His team's work describes a new method of reducing pain with RNA-based medicine. RNA stands for ribonucleic acid, which carries out genetic information from DNA to proteins.


A sedentary lifestyle can lead to problems with heart health, but people with active lifestyles aren’t immune, according to a new study of longtime endurance runners.


In Texas, mothers are dying — and lawmakers and public health officials are trying to figure out why.


Some things will decline as we get older — that’s inevitable.

Physical strength, balance and endurance erode, our eyesight worsens, women quickly lose bone mass after menopause, and male testosterone levels drop.


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. 


Addiction to opioids often begins in the doctor’s office. These drugs are typically the only option to manage pain after an operation or in patients with serious injuries. They’re also frequently prescribed to patients with chronic pain, and it’s these patients who are most at risk for opioid addiction.

UT Southwestern Medical Center

Autism affects about one in 68 children, and the condition poses social challenges, including difficulty processing social interactions, such as facial expressions and physical gestures.

New research out of UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas shows those social behaviors could be restored through a process called "neuromodulation," or brain stimulation.


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.

The flu doesn't just make you feel lousy. A study published Wednesday finds it can increase your risk of having a heart attack, too.

"We found that you're six times more likely to have a heart attack during the week after being diagnosed with influenza, compared to the year before or after the infection," says study author Dr. Jeff Kwong, an epidemiologist and family physician with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and Public Health Ontario in Canada.

Stephanie Kuo / KERA News

Flu season has been especially severe this year in North Texas. Earlier this month, the Walgreens flu index ranked Dallas-Fort Worth the seventh most active metropolitan area in the country, prompting area hospitals to push flu prevention more than usual.

But those reminders can often miss the most vulnerable in the community – so a roving flu clinic in Fort Worth is closing the gap.