Biologist Ethan Bier runs a laboratory at the University of California, San Diego where fruit flies are used to help unravel the processes that lead to some human diseases. One day recently, a graduate student in the lab called him over to take a look at the results of the latest experiment.

Bier was stunned by what he saw. "It was one of the most astounding days in my personal scientific career," Bier says. "When he first showed me, I could not believe it."

Starchild Abraham Cherrix, 16, pictured with his parents, fought to be able to obtain alternative treatment to cancer.
AP Photo/Steve Helber, File

Teens as young as 12 can make their own medical decisions in certain states.

That’s because of the mature minor doctrine. The doctrine allows teens to get abortions, mental health care and drug treatment without their parents’ permission.

Dennis Lindberg was 14 when he was diagnosed with leukemia. He refused to received blood transfusions, which ultimately led to his death three weeks after he was diagnosed.Dennis Lindberg was 14 when he was diagnosed with leukemia. He refused to received
Skagit Valley Herald/Scott Terrell

The first time I interviewed Dennis Lindberg, he was alone on a weekday evening. He had just turned 12, and he had set out Saltine crackers on a paper towel and poured me a glass of tap water.

He sat up straight on the couch and folded his hands in his lap. “What questions may I answer?” he asked. He was polite, tall for his age, with light blue eyes and acne scattered across his nose.

Jeff Lahti, microbiologist at the Department of Health tests samples for E. coli.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

There are now 25 confirmed cases of E. coli in Washington state, 12 more in Oregon. Most of the cases are linked to Chipotle Restaurants.

Officials have identified the strain that’s responsible for the outbreak: E. coli 026. Washington state health officer Dr. Kathy Lofy said this strain produces Shiga toxins, which can cause serious illness, including sever abdominal cramps, diarrhea which is often bloody, vomiting, kidney damage and other issues.

Prescription drug use is rising across the United States. More people are taking medications and they're taking more of them.

A study published Tuesday by researchers at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health shows that 59 percent of adults used a prescription drug in a 30-day period. That's up from just 50 percent when the survey was last conducted a decade earlier.

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of Escherichia coli, grown in culture and adhered to a cover slip.
Flickr Photo/NIAID (CC BY 2.0)/

The sleuthing is under way to figure out what has sickened at least 22 people in an E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle restaurants.

Health officials said Monday that they’re still unsure which food is responsible, but the number of cases is expected to rise beyond the 19 in Washington and three in Oregon reported so far. Seven people have been hospitalized in Washington, one in Oregon.

A decades-long decline in the death rate of middle-aged white Americans has reversed in recent years, according to a surprising new analysis released Monday.

The cause of the reversal remains unclear. Researchers speculate it might be the result of the bad economy fueling a rise in suicides, plus overdoses from prescription painkillers and illegal drugs like heroin, and alcohol abuse.

It’s that time of year again: open enrollment period, when consumers choose a health plan for medical coverage.

Customers can browse for insurance at Washington Healthplanfinder, now in its third year.  

Chipotle Mexican Grill is temporarily closing more than 40 restaurants in and around Seattle and Portland, Ore., as health officials investigate an E. coli outbreak that has gotten at least 22 people sick.

USA Today reports:

Each year, nearly three times as many Americans die from suicide as from homicide. More Americans kill themselves than die from breast cancer.

As Dr.Thomas Insel, longtime head of the National Institute of Mental Health, prepared to step down from his job in October, he cited the lack of progress in reducing the number of suicides as his biggest disappointment. While the homicide rate in the U.S. has dropped 50 percent since the early 1990s, the suicide rate is higher than it was a decade ago.

The definition of postpartum depression is broad. The symptoms can range anywhere from feeling exhausted and disconnected from your baby to paranoia that someone else might hurt your child or, even worse, that you yourself might do your baby harm.

While this wide-ranging spectrum makes it hard to diagnose, the CDC says between 8 percent and 19 percent of women suffer from postpartum depression.

Corin Mochnick

Elementary students in Seattle Public Schools get far less time to eat lunch than district policy requires, according to a study by University of Washington graduate students. That confirms what parent activists have long reported.

Jason Margolis

P.J. Goodwin has always loved Volkswagens, I mean really loved them. He flashes his lights and waves at other VW owners on the road.

“I definitely felt a magnetism towards vintage VW’s. My first car was a VW 1972 camper. I still have it,” says Goodwin. “I was a kid when I bought it, I didn’t even have my driver’s license.”

He bought it used for $300. He’s rebuilt the engine three times and is returning it to its original color: sierra yellow. “It’s very 70’s," he says. 

A teenage girl is believed to have contracted bubonic plague from a flea on a hunting trip, according to Oregon health officials. The Crook County girl got sick five days after the trip started on Oct. 16; she's been hospitalized in Bend, Ore., since Oct. 24.

Ten million people still don't have health insurance two years after the Affordable Care Act went into effect.

Some never bought a policy. But 20 percent went to the trouble of signing up on, or one of the state insurance exchanges, and even made payments. Then, those 2 million people let their insurance lapse.

NPR asked visitors to our Facebook page to tell us why.