Health & Science

As the news broke of a school shooting in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, hundreds of Twitter accounts believed to be under Russian sway pivoted.

Many had been tweeting about places like Syria and Ukraine — countries where Russia is seeking to strengthen its influence. Suddenly the accounts shifted to hashtags like #guncontrol, #guncontrolnow and #gunreformnow. Tweets mentioning Nikolas Cruz, the name of the shooting suspect, spiked.

Next month, several chain supermarkets in the U.K. will stop selling energy drinks to customers under 16. Anyone looking to buy a soft drink with more than 150 mg of caffeine per liter — a limit targeting drinks like Monster and Red Bull — will need to present an ID.

After Elizabeth Moreno had back surgery in late 2015, her surgeon prescribed an opioid painkiller and a follow-up drug test that seemed routine — until the lab slapped her with a bill for $17,850.

A Houston lab had tested her urine sample for a constellation of legal and illicit drugs, many of which Moreno says she had never heard of, let alone taken.

"I was totally confused. I didn't know how I was going to pay this," said Moreno, 30, who is finishing a degree in education at Texas State University in San Marcos, and is pregnant with twins.

Intervening Early To Stop Killers

Feb 16, 2018

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Investigators are trying to piece together what led a 19-year-old to open fire in a Florida high school this week. They're asking questions about the shooter's mental health, and that is something President Trump alluded to yesterday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

In her late 20s and attending college in Texas, Elizabeth Moreno suffered from debilitating back pain caused by a spinal abnormality. "I just could not live with the pain," she says. "I couldn't get dressed by myself, I couldn't walk across my house, let alone to class, and nothing, no drug that had been prescribed to me, even dulled the pain."

NPR and Kaiser Health News are undertaking a project to investigate and dissect real-life medical bills.

We expect that examining the bills will shed light on the often surprising prices for health care in the U.S.

Along the way, we're hoping to help people learn how to be more active and successful in managing the costs of their care.

Do you have a medical bill or explanation of benefits that you'd like us to see and scrutinize? Submit it here and tell us the story behind it.

We may use it, with your permission, in one of our monthly features.

On Christmas Day last year, a 68-year-old woman in southern China came down with the flu. A week later she was hospitalized.

The woman eventually recovered, but she spent three weeks in the hospital.

The culprit? H7N4, a new type of bird flu.

"This is the first case of human infection with avian influenza A (H7N4) in the world," the Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection said Wednesday in a statement.

Federal health officials say that, as they anticipated, the flu vaccine isn't very effective this year — but they say it has still prevented thousands of serious illnesses and deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures that, overall, the flu vaccine is 36 percent effective at preventing disease. One bright point for parents of young kids: Children ages 6 months to 8 years responded significantly better to the vaccine than older Americans.

It's barely been two weeks since Idaho regulators said they would allow the sale of health insurance that doesn't meet all of the Affordable Care Act's requirements — a controversial step some experts said would likely draw legal scrutiny and, potentially, federal fines for any insurer that jumped in.

And on Wednesday, Blue Cross of Idaho unveiled a menu of new health plans that break with federal health law rules in several ways, including setting premiums based on applicants' health.

The world's largest species of orangutans is rapidly disappearing.

Borneo has lost more than 100,000 orangutans in the last 16 years – that's more than the number of the critically endangered species remaining.

This species — the Bornean orangutan — is only found on the island, which is divided between Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. It has seen dramatic deforestation, as lush jungle is converted into palm oil and paper pulp plantations.

It was Julie Liles' 17-year-old daughter, Emily, who suggested that they attend a sex education program together.

Julie was eager to go. She was just 14 when she gave birth to Emily.

"So always in the back of my mind was a worry that she would get hurt," says Julie, her voice cracking. "I worried in the back of my mind that she would find herself in the same situation."

Editor's note: This story was originally published in October and has been republished with updates following the shooting Wednesday in Florida.

It was the deadliest school shooting since a gunman took 26 lives at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Conn. On Wednesday, a shooter killed at least 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

As the fox told the prince in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's wonderful fable The Little Prince: "What is essential is invisible to the eye."

If the fox had not been talking about love, she could have been referring to the elementary particles of matter, the building blocks of everything that exists. The poetry here is in knowing that the world is made of tiny, invisible bits of stuff that carry, in them, the story of creation itself.

Back in 1983, it seemed like a good idea.

Tired of annoying online ads? There could be some relief starting Thursday, if you're one of the vast majority of people who use Google Chrome as your default browser.

Google is launching a built-in blocker in Chrome that is designed to filter out ads it says repeatedly violate standards put out by the Coalition of Better Ads. Pop-up ads? Check. Auto-playing video ads? Yep. Large sticky ads? You know, the ones that stay on your screen even as you try to scroll past them. Those are on the blacklist, too.

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