NPR Blogs

Shots - Health News
5:29 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Blood Test Provides More Accurate Prenatal Testing For Down Syndrome

The new test scans a mother's blood for bits of a fetus's DNA.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 11:24 am

A new blood test offers pregnant women a safe and much more accurate way to screen for Down syndrome.

A study that evaluated the test in 1,914 pregnancies found that the test, which checks DNA, produces far fewer false alarms than the current screening techniques.

Read more
The Salt
5:28 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Maybe That BPA In Your Canned Food Isn't So Bad After All

Should you fear a chemical inside metal food containers like the ones that hold beans? Government scientists say no.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 12:39 pm

Maybe BPA isn't so bad after all.

The plastic additive has been vilified by environmental advocacy groups. But the chemical had no effect on rats fed thousands of times the amount a typical person ingests, government scientists are reporting in the journal Toxicological Sciences.

Read more
Shots - Health News
4:48 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Scientists Question Safety Of Genetically Altering Human Eggs

Up till now, all babies have had two genetic parents. That could soon change.
Klöpper & Eisenschmidt GbR iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 12:08 pm

A panel of government advisers has expressed serious concerns about a controversial proposal to allow scientists to try to make babies using eggs that have been genetically altered to include DNA from another woman.

Members of the Food and Drug Administration panel said they were worried that not enough research has been done to know whether the experiments would be safe.

Read more
Shots - Health News
4:47 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

You Got What In The Mail? Home Test Boosts Colon Cancer Screening

Instructions for the colon screening test were devised so they can be understood in any language.
Courtesy of Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 8:57 am

Everybody's supposed to get screened for colon cancer starting at age 50, but many of us haven't gotten around to it. That's especially true in the Latino community, where about half of people are up to date on screening, compared to 66 percent of non-Latino whites.

Read more
Europe
4:20 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

British Diplomat Weighs In On Ukraine, Russia And Syria

The U.K. supports stability and democracy in Ukraine, says British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who visited NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., Wednesday.
Jim Tuttle NPR

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 12:08 pm

The complicated situation in Ukraine is headed toward an important moment, as a vote on an interim government has been scheduled for Thursday. But tensions are running high in the region, with Russia ordering military exercises along its border.

Read more
Shots - Health News
4:03 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Massachusetts Launches Health Care Shopping Experiment

Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts signed the law enacting the state's latest phase of health care on August 6, 2012.
Eric Haynes/Governor Deval Patrick's Office

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 12:08 pm

To shop for health care, it would help to know what childbirth or a CT scan will cost ahead of time. But is it possible to actually list prices for medical procedures? And will patients armed with the information look for bargains when they seek care?

Massachusetts is trying to find out. Since Jan. 1, hospitals and doctors there have been required to tell patients how much things cost, if they ask. It's part of the state's health care cost control law. We set out to run a test.

Read more
13.7: Cosmos And Culture
3:23 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Is Freedom Just An Illusion? Maybe We Don't Want To Know

A computer designed by hobbyists to look like a brain on display at a Berlin fair in 2012. What happens when we go from crude models to complete working simulations of this all-important organ?
Britta Pedersen DPA/AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 4:25 pm

The possibility that machines will be able to simulate the human brain is all over the news these days. In the United States, President Obama's Brain Initiative promises $100 million to fund research into "how we think, learn, and remember." In Europe, the Blue Brain Project, headed by Henry Markram, will attempt to recreate the human brain in all of its minute detail so as to engender an artificial mind.

Read more
The Two-Way
3:19 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Federal Judge Voids Texas Gay Marriage Ban

Couples Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman and Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss speak with reporters outside the U.S. Federal Courthouse in San Antonio earlier this month. The judge in their case ruled Texas' ban on gay marriage unconstitutional Wednesday.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 7:01 am

Saying that a Texas law barring same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and demeans the dignity of homosexuals, a federal judge struck down the law Wednesday. The ruling from U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia doesn't mean gay marriages can be held in Texas, however; he placed a stay on the decision, anticipating an appeal by the state.

Read more
The Two-Way
3:03 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

'Planet Bonanza' Indeed: NASA Unveils 715 New Worlds

This artist rendering provided by NASA, shows Kepler-11, a sunlike star around which six planets orbit.
AP

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 4:47 pm

The job of NASA's Kepler mission is to peek at the far reaches of space in the hopes of finding potentially habitable planets. The space agency announced a stunning success, saying that Kepler had identified 715 new planets that orbit 305 stars. The discovery boosts the number of verified planets by around 70 percent.

"Four of the planets are about twice the size of Earth and orbit in their star's so-called habitable zone," NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce reports for our Newscast unit, "where temperatures might be suitable for liquid water."

Read more
The Two-Way
2:05 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Ukraine Zeroes In On Leader For Interim Government

With Ukraine in a political limbo following the flight of its president Saturday, the name of Arseniy Yatsenyuk is being put forth as the country's next leader until new elections are held in May. Yatsenyuk is a member of the Batkyvshchina party, whose leaders include former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

On Wednesday, a web page dedicated to Yatsenyuk announced, "Began collecting signatures under the agreement on forming a coalition. The government will be voted on Thursday," according to a web-based translation service.

Read more
The Two-Way
2:03 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Killers Sentenced In Hacking Death Of British Soldier

The victim: Fusilier Lee Rigby.
U.K. Ministry of Defense

One of the two men who hacked to death a British soldier on a London street in May 2013 was sentenced Wednesday to spend the rest of his life in prison. The other was given a minimum term of 45 years.

Read more
The Salt
12:28 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Nutrition Labels To Get Long-Overdue Tweaks

Nutrition labels will be getting a makeover this week to make it easier for consumers to understand the information.
Larry Crowne AP

If you're perplexed about how to make healthy choices when you're shopping for food, you're not alone. We've all puzzled over a food label that was confusing and hard to follow.

But some help may be on the way, as I reported on All Things Considered Tuesday.

Read more
The Two-Way
12:16 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Killers Were Tiny, Victims Were Huge At Chile's Whale Graveyard

The fossilized remains of a whale that washed up on a shore in what's now Chile more than 5 million years ago.
Vince Rossi Smithsonian Institution

Since construction workers discovered dozens of fossils along a highway in Chile in 2011, one question has preoccupied researchers:

What killed the whales, seals and other creatures that ended up there more than 5 million years ago?

Writing in Proceedings of The Royal Society B, scientists from the Smithsonian Institution and universities in the U.S. and Chile say the culprits were among the smallest possible killers: "Algal toxins."

Read more
Shots - Health News
11:58 am
Wed February 26, 2014

One Last Journey For Organ Donors Speeds Transplants

Now Dr. Majilla Doyle's organ donors come to her.
Robert J. Boston Washington University School Of Medicine

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 8:26 am

If Dr. Majella Doyle is your surgeon, it means that something very bad or very good has just happened to you.

Doyle is a liver transplant specialist. For years that meant she had her bag packed, ready to fly or drive to wherever an organ donor lay on life support. That could easily mean eight hours of travel. And that was just the start.

Read more
The Two-Way
9:54 am
Wed February 26, 2014

North Korea's Still In The Dark, As Photos From Space Show

This image was taken Jan. 30 by astronauts aboard the International Space Station. North Korea is the large dark patch in the middle. The only significant light is from its capital, Pyongyang. The next photo adds reference points.
NASA.gov

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 11:55 am

Pictures really do tell the story about how far behind economically North Korea is compared with its neighbors.

In 2002, as Eyder has said, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld used a satellite photo to illustrate how in-the-dark the communist nation was.

Read more

Pages