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.

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.

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. 

How Autism Diagnostics Overlook Girls

Mar 24, 2016

One in 68 kids in the U.S. is affected by autism, with boys receiving four times as many diagnoses as girls. New research suggests that that disparity may be the result of girls on the spectrum getting overlooked and misdiagnosed.  

Texas Christian University

Last week, the NFL admitted for the first time that football is linked to brain damage. It’s something researchers have documented for years. Now, a new study conducted at Texas Christian University shows a component of fish oil could help reduce the brain-damaging effects of head trauma.

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Lactose Intolerance is a common problem - about 65 percent of the human population has it. And while it can’t be cured, it’s rarely dangerous and you can manage lactose intolerance.

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Last year, Texas legalized limited medical use of cannabidiol oil, which is derived from marijuana. Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth is undergoing trials to see if that compound can be used to treat children with a severe form of epilepsy.

Elyse Barnard

Meet Hallie: for much of her young life, the 7-year-old Denton 2nd grader, has been looking for something you can’t buy in a store: She’s searching for someone who could save her life. There’s a chance you could help.

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Head lice is a common problem among kids.  The CDC estimates the parasitic insects infest between six and 12-million children, ages three to 11, each year.  But Texas and at least 24 other states have reported cases of so-called super lice, which are harder to eliminate.

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At least two North Texans ended up in the hospital after using a synthetic opioid called U-47700 at a recent party. One is in ICU. Other cases involving the drug across the country led to deaths. 

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Photographing yourself with a smartphone seems harmless. But a man in Washington state died February 28 after accidentally shooting himself in the face while posing with a gun. And at least 49 others here and abroad have died from selfie-related accidents.

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State health officials want to close one of the oldest psychiatric hospitals in Texas. Timberlawn Mental Health System in East Dallas has had a series of violations, including a suicide and fights between patients, dating back to 2009.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Lindsey Davidson says finding heroin is Texas easy; finding the drug to reverse an overdose, that’s hard.

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Doctors at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth are used to treating cases of abuse. But what they’d really like to do is prevent it. So they’re experimenting with “big data” technology that could help predict neighborhoods where kids are most likely to be abused.

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Congenital heart disease is a structural defect in the heart that occurs at birth. Advancements in medicine have made it possible for more people with the disease to survive into adulthood.  But few of those adult survivors get the specialized care they still need.

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Research in Texas shows for the first time that electromagnetic fields from things like cellphone towers and power lines can amplify pain in people.

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Most cases of colon cancer occur in people over 50 - about the time recommended to begin screening for the disease.  But results of research over 15 years found an increase in colon cancer in those younger than 50.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

The Holy Grail in health care is finding a way to cut costs and improve outcomes. Researchers at UT Southwestern and Parkland Hospital say they’ve uncovered a way to do both – so that patients who typically have to stay in the hospital for more than a month can go home and care for themselves. The program could help hospitals save significantly and give patients independence.

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Atrial fibrillation, a irregular heartbeat, affected more than 33-million people globally in 2010.

A new study says atrial fibrillation appears to be a stronger risk factor for heart disease and death in women than in men.

Marcel Oosterwijk, flickr

In June 2014, Julian Pinto kicked the first ball of the World Cup. He isn’t a soccer star or a celebrity, but his kick attracted quite a bit of attention—because it signified a major breakthrough in brain-interface technology. Confused? Well, Pinto is paralyzed from the waist down, and he kicked the ball with his mind, using a robotic exoskeleton. If you think it sounds like something from a science fiction novel, you’re not alone: even Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, who headed the research, once had his doubts.

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The term "broken heart" is usually just a figure of speech. However, the emotional pain or loss involved can contribute to a potentially serious physical condition called Broken Heart Syndrome.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

When children get sick at school, it can be a big disruption. For the kids – they have to miss class –and for mom or dad, who have to leave work, try and schedule a last minute doctor’s appointment, maybe even go to the emergency room. So, what if kids could see a pediatrician without having to leave school? That’s the idea behind a telemedicine initiative run by Children’s Health. The program has gone from reaching several hundred kids to in Texas to thousands.

James Gathany / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

By now many people in North Texas have heard of the Zika virus, but few have firsthand experience. Dr. David Vanderpool does. Vanderpool was raised and educated in Dallas and has seen the toll the disease is taking south of the border, in the poorest country of the Americas – Haiti. He says whether or not the Zika virus spreads to the U.S., we need to be paying close attention.

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Lead contamination caused a crisis with the water supply in Flint, Michigan. But the CDC says at least 4 million households have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead.

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Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas hopes to become one of the first hospitals in the U.S. to transplant a uterus from one woman to another.

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Texas is an epicenter for human trafficking. Recently, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton established a new unit of attorneys and investigators focused on combating human trafficking. Each year, thousands of adults and children are trafficked through the state and many end up living in cities like Dallas and Houston. It turns out some victims are walking into hospitals, and some doctors believe these visits are a window of opportunity to help them escape.

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At some point, many of us will have a case of heartburn that can be easily fixed. However, Dr. Christian Mayorga of Parkland Hospital and UT Southwestern Medical Center explains why heartburn is not always something to take lightly. 

As researchers have searched for ways to explain the childhood obesity epidemic in the U.S., many have posited that a child's race or ethnicity alone can put them at greater risk of becoming overweight or obese.

Kim Eagle, a professor of internal medicine and health management and policy at the University of Michigan, was skeptical of this thinking. His hunch was that poverty was a much more important part of the equation.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

There is no treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. It’s a rare and fatal genetic condition that progressively weakens all muscles, including the heart. But scientists from UT Southwestern Medical Center have successfully used a gene editing tool to halt the disease in young mice.

When most little boys were running up and down stairs, Ben Dupree was using his arms to pull himself up the wood banister in his home in University Park. His mom, Debbie, knew something was wrong.

 

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KERA examines common health issues in our series Vital Signs.

In this edition, a problem common to many – weight gain. A possible solution may lie in how much you sleep. 

Dr. Ryan Hays, Director of Sleep Medicine at Parkland Hospital System and Assistant Professor of Neurology & Neurotherapeutics at UT Southwestern Medical Center, explains how one affects the other.

The Longest Swim

Any day now, Texas swimmer Ben Lecomte will plunge into the Pacific Ocean off a Tokyo beach towards San Francisco. He wants to become the first person to swim across the Pacific. He’s already the first person to free swim across the Atlantic Ocean.

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Although nearly four million people a year sustain concussions, there’s still a lot doctors don't know about them, including Dr. Munro Cullum.  The neuropsychologist is one of the researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center leading a study of several hundred people to eventually come up with better treatment for concussion. 

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The Forest Park Medical Center campuses were supposed to be more like spas than hospitals.  And they were —  from the hand cut stone and sculptures to the lavish trees and fancy menu.

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