Health | Connecticut Public Radio


Idaho National Laboratory on Flickr Creative Commons

Stem cells are the Wild West of biomedicine.

  The commercially run SpaceX Dragon capsule just delivered mouse stem cells to the International Space Station, part of an experiment to see how long periods in space affect living organisms.

  In Scotland, researchers are attempting to make blobs of stem cells in a three-d printer.

  And in Italy, terminally ill patients are being given an untested, unproven and theoretically risky stem cell treatment over the protests of scientists.

Flickr The Commons

Studies show that poor oral health can make young people suffer in ways adults would never tolerate. "For some kids, they are scared forever. I know people who will not talk. They will not open their mouth. They will cover their mouth," said Dr. Tryfon Beazoglou, who recently co-authored a report with Joanna Douglass, also from the University of Connecticut's School of Dental Medicine. "Often many of these children have had pain for so long that they act out in other ways and it's picked up as behavioral problems in the class room," Douglass said.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Mar 29, 2013
Patrick Dencker on Flickr Creative Commons

Traumatic brain injury has become a household term thanks largely to football players and veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The Center for Disease Control estimates at least 1.7 million TBIs occur every year. More than half of those come from either falls or motor-vehicle accidents.

With so many TBI victims, it's likely that you or someone you know has been affected by this.

Regaining Balance

Mar 28, 2013
Ethan Sherbondy/flickr creative commons

Everybody gets knocked off course. How do you rebalance in an unpredictable world? Bruce Clements joins Faith to talk about the art of restoring balance. Are there go-to tactics that work for most people? Or is the answer different depending on what happens to you? What can we learn from others? How do you get perspective when the clear mind you need is clouded and confused?

The High Cost of Health Care

Mar 15, 2013 on Flickr Creative Commons

When we need to go to the hospital, we usually don’t care what it costs to make us better. We just want to get better.

And when you think about it, you shouldn't have to worry about how much it costs when you’re sick or hurt.

But in America, where we’re likely to spend $2.8 trillion dollars on health care this year, the care we receive doesn’t cost the same for everyone.

VA Offers Free Gun Locks To Help Prevent Vet Suicides

Mar 7, 2013

Every day an estimated 22 veterans kill themselves in the U.S. and most of them use a gun to do so, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. This trend mirrors the general population where more people kill themselves with guns than by all other methods combined.

The VA is trying to help with a program that offers gun locks to veterans for free. The thinking is that if they lock their guns up they might not reach for them in the spur of the moment.

Lucy Nalpathanchil

Every day an estimated twenty-two veterans kill themselves in the U.S. and most of them will use a gun to do so according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs. This trend mirrors the general population where more people kill themselves with guns than with all other methods combined. The VA is trying to help with a program that offers gun locks to veterans for free. The thinking is that if they lock their guns up they might not reach for them in the spur of the moment. 

Salt Could Be Behind Rise In Autoimmune Diseases

Mar 7, 2013

Dr. David Hafler is chairman of Yale's Department of Neurology. He's been studying multiple sclerosis for several decades. His lab looks at T-cells known as "helper cells," which are meant to assist the immune system, but do the opposite in diseases like Type 1 diabetes. He says the cells went wild when they removed them from blood and added salt: "The surprise of the study was the degree to which salt could induce as much inflammation both in the mouse and in vitro."

Population Demographics: Have More Babies?

Mar 7, 2013
Parker Knight, Creative Commons

So, if there are now 7 billion people in the world, how can we possibly need to have MORE babies?

Well, the truth is, today, deaths outnumber births in more than a dozen countries, and another 24 will see population decline by mid century.

Courtesy of Flickr CC by Nils Geylen

The Food and Drug Administration is warning health care professionals to not prescribe pain medicine containing codeine to children post-surgery. As WNPRs Lucy Nalpathanchil reports some hospitals like Connecticut Children's Medical Center are going further.

Hyper-Local Aid To Africa

Feb 20, 2013
Chion Wolf

The idea ‘For what you pay to feed your cat, you can save lives in my country.’ That...set a fire under Quinnipiac Professor Dennis Richardson.

He works in remote villages in Cameroon to aid a community of about 1,000 people.

On the opposite side of Africa, student and faculty of the University of Hartford are helping remote farmers create sustainable agriculture businesses in rural Kenya.

Chickadeeacres on Flickr Creative Commons

In the first studies to examine what the public thinks about people with an addiction to food, researchers at Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, found that while those with food addiction are viewed more favorably than those with other addictive behaviors, labeling obese persons as addicts further stigmatizes them.

Courtesy of Clifford Beers Clinic

A New Haven mental health clinic has received a federal grant to help the children of military families. The clinic aims to use the funding to fill a gap that exists in the VA health care system.

Assisted Outpatient Treatment Laws

Jan 28, 2013 on Flickr Creative Commons

The Sandy Hook shootings have resulted in a special bipartisan task force of the Connecticut legislature.  Last week’s public hearing dealt with recommendations to enhance school safety.  Today’s lengthy hearing is about reducing gun violence, and tomorrow they’ll talk about increasing access to mental health care.

Real Life Survival Guide Episode 69

Jan 27, 2013
Cindy Papish Gerber

As we rounded the corner in to 2013, my thoughts turned from the food I had been eating during the holidays to the food I’ve been eating during the football playoffs, and I figured it was a good time to talk about what we put in our bodies on a daily basis.

For this conversation, I invited Yale Professor Kelly Brownell, writers Mary Elliott and Susan Campbell, Weatherman Matt Scott, home chef Rob Oliver and the formerly huge Duo Dickinson - to join me for a conversation about healthy eating.

BLW Photography / Creative Commons

A study by University of Connecticut researchers has found that some children diagnosed with autism at a young age improved to a point where they no longer had symptoms of the disorder.

Treating Trauma Before It Hurts

Jan 16, 2013
Kortunov on Flickr Creative Commons

After Newtown, school nurses and teachers have been asking for training to identify the early signs of trauma in children. The Child Health and Development Institute held two training sessions last week for school personnel in Connecticut with several more planned in the following weeks. 

Joining us this morning is Dr. Robert Franks, a trauma expert and Vice-President of The Child Health and Development Institute.

Providing Healthcare in Rural Communities

Jan 7, 2013
Chion Wolf

There are plenty of roadblocks to healthcare, especially if you’re without insurance and money. But for many Americans, just finding a doctor can be difficult.

Although nearly a quarter of the U.S. population lives in rural communities, only a one in ten physicians practice there....they have only a third as many specialists as cities. The population’s smokes more...and suffers from more accidental deaths.

Feeding Our Children

Jan 3, 2013
TJ Hanton (Flickr Creative Commons)

According to Children’s HealthWatch, in 2010, there were 48.8 million Americans who lived in households that were food insecure, including 16.2 million children.

But in a nation suffering from an obesity epidemic, is hunger really the problem? Experts tell us that yes, while obese kids are not all hungry, many of the most malnourished are obese.

But, as the richest state in the nation, how can Connecticut really have that many hungry kids?

Wikimedia Commons

After a bill to require labeling for genetically modified foods failed to make it out of the Connecticut legislature’s Environment Committee this past February, a bi-partisan legislative task force met last month to consider their next move.

Photo by Lucy Nalpathanchil

It's been five months since 16 homeless veterans moved into permanent supportive housing thanks to the American Legion Post in southeastern Connecticut. The Jewett City Post renovated its own building to create the apartments. The project was funding by the federal VA with help from private donations, Second district Congressman Joe Courtney, and the state of Connecticut.

This past summer, WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil introduced us to one of the new tenants, an Army veteran. She visited him recently as he prepares for his first Christmas inside his own place.

Chion Wolf

I'm not a big fan of getting ready to fight the previous war. Our next crisis will not be Adam Lanza. It will not be an exact replica of the facts of his life, not that we know those for sure yet. (I would say, parenthetically, that the worldwide rush to diagnose Lanza makes me massively uncomfortable.)

Photo courtesy of

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has called on military leaders to explore a "epidemic" of suicide among active duty servicemembers and veterans. Each day, 18 veterans kill themselves according to the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. In Connecticut, 30 veterans have died this way since 2009, but those are only the suicides that the VA knows about.

Today was the launch of something called the Connecticut Health Council. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, the council's ultimate goal is to attract new healthcare industry jobs to the state.

The council will have meetings every six weeks or so to talk about topics in health care, and representatives from various areas within the industry are planning to take part. It's part education, part networking, and part Connecticut sell job.

Courtesy of Flickr CC by themohers

A new report on asthma finds the rate among Connecticut children rose more than seven percent between 2005 and 2010. The state health department says no one really knows what causes asthma. But WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil reports that a  common virus called RSV or respiratory syncytial virus may be a contributing factor.  


On December 31, doctors will experience a 30% decrease in reimbursements through Medicare and Tricare,  the federal programs that provide care for people over 65 years of age and active and retired members of the military, unless Congress acts to stop it.

In 1997, Congress created a formula that tied increases in physician payments from  Medicare and Tricare to economic growth, a formula that leaves a shortfall in payments to doctors when health care costs rise faster than the nation's economic growth. 

United States Army Corps Of Engineers

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say this year's flu season is off to it's earliest start in nearly a decade. Many hospitals nationwide, including 19 in Connecticut, have implemented mandatory flu shots for it's workers. 

But, there has been some pushback from unions representing hospital workers, and at least a few workers have been fired for refusing to get the flu shot. 

Dr. Mary Reich Cooper, Vice-President and Chief Quality Officer at the Connecticut Hospital Association talks about it.

Living With The Mystery Of Our Death

Dec 10, 2012
Rebecca Dubell

Religious leaders get to oversee some of life’s happiest moments, but they’ve also seen enough death to last a lifetime.

They officiate funerals, bless graves, and provide comfort to those who are suffering loss.  So it makes sense that we expect them to have some kind of wisdom about death.  

But how do their experiences influence their views of their own mortality?

Today we’ll talk with philosopher Shelly Kagan and pastoral care professor Kristen Leslie about the mystery of death.  

Cheers To Living To 100! Or... Forever?

Dec 5, 2012
dark_ghetto28, creative commons

Are there places where people just live longer?

We’ve been hearing about this phenomenon for years, but our guest today has proof.

Jeff Cohen/WNPR

A study of Hartford pre-school students shows that many of the city's young are obese by the time they are four or five years old. The study by UConn's Center for Public Health and Health Policy shows that Hartford has roughly the same rates of preschool obesity as other U.S. cities. Seventeen percent of the children measured classified as overweight; 20 percent of them qualified as obese. Both rates, though, are significantly higher than national averages.