health

Senator Patty Murray in the KUOW offices, Jan. 2016.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

The U.S. Senate passed a bill which included a provision to help injured veterans conceive children. It would cover the cost of fertility treatment under their VA benefits.    

US. Senator Patty Murray’s amendment would allow veterans with service-connected injuries that prevent them from conceiving naturally to pursue procedures like in vitro fertilization. The procedure combines harvested eggs and sperm outside the body.

Over 150 pregnant women in the United States appear to have been infected with Zika virus. That's in addition to more than 120 women affected by Zika in U.S. territories, mainly Puerto Rico.

Those are the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which has been keeping track of all pregnant women in the U.S. and its territories who have lab tests suggestive of Zika virus infections.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued a cease and desist order Thursday against Bullseye Glass Co. in Portland.

The move comes after the Department of Environmental Quality found toxic levels of lead in air monitors near a daycare facility.

DEQ officials recorded lead levels at three times the 24-hour benchmark. Exposure to lead has been shown to decrease IQ levels in children.

She was a mother in rural Ghana. She only wanted four children. But she had seven.

That's a story that Faustina Fynn-Nyame told at the Women Deliver conference this week in Copenhagen, Denmark. Fynn-Nyame works with the reproductive health care nonprofit Marie Stopes International.

"She was let down by the community, the government and us," Fynn-Nyame told the audience. And there are millions of women like this Ghanaian mom, unable to get access to contraception.

Oklahoma lawmakers have passed a bill that makes performing an abortion a felony.

NPR's Jennifer Ludden told our Newscast unit that the bill is the first of its kind, and an pro-abortion rights group plans to sue if the governor signs the bill into law. Gov. Mary Fallin has not yet indicated what she plans to do. Here's more from Jennifer:

While Congress fidgets over whether and how to pay for the fight against the Zika virus, state and local health departments are scrambling and slimming down.

That's because these front-line public health agencies have already seen their budgets chopped because of the debate.

Homeless families outside a shelter in downtown Seattle
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Bill Radke speaks with Dr. Maralyssa Bann of Harborview Medical Center about the challenges homeless people face managing chronic illnesses. 

A handful of scientists around the United States are trying to do something that some people find disturbing: make embryos that are part human, part animal.

The researchers hope these embryos, known as chimeras, could eventually help save the lives of people with a wide range of diseases.

One way would be to use chimera embryos to create better animal models to study how human diseases happen and how they progress.

Perhaps the boldest hope is to create farm animals that have human organs that could be transplanted into terminally ill patients.

Kim Malcolm speaks with Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer about Fentanyl, an opiate claiming lives in British Columbia. Overdoses from this drug are on the rise and health officials are trying to educate the public. 

As the population of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder keeps growing, so does the number of people with that diagnosis who aren't finding employment.

Though many young adults on the spectrum are considered high functioning, recent research shows 40 percent don't find work — a higher jobless rate than people with other developmental disabilities experience.

The National Academy of Sciences — probably the country's most prestigious scientific group — has reaffirmed its judgment that GMOs are safe to eat. But the group's new report struck a different tone from previous ones, with much more space devoted to concerns about genetically modified foods, including social and economic ones.

Scientists and doctors say the case is clear: The best way to tackle the country's opioid epidemic is to get more people on medications that have been proven in studies to reduce relapses and, ultimately, overdoses.

Yet, only a fraction of the more than 4 million people believed to abuse prescription painkillers or heroin in the U.S. are being given what's called medication-assisted treatment.

When it comes to the issue of religious rights versus no-cost contraception, the only thing the Supreme Court could agree on was not to decide.

In an unsigned opinion issued Monday, the court sent a series of cases back to a raft of federal appeals courts, with instructions for those courts and the parties in the lawsuits to try harder to work things out. "The Court expresses no view on the merits of the cases," the opinion said.

As researchers work to understand the human genome, many questions remain, including, perhaps, the most fundamental: Just how much of the human experience is determined before we are already born, by our genes, and how much is dependent upon external environmental factors?

Oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross the answer to that question is complicated. "Biology is not destiny," Mukherjee explains. "But some aspects of biology — and in fact some aspects of destiny — are commanded very strongly by genes."

Many veterans are still waiting to see a doctor.

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