Health & Science

Julia Brennan grew up in a family of nearsighted people — so nearsighted that they joked they were blind as bats. She, however, had perfect eyesight.

"Julia can see around corners," her mother would say.

A one-paragraph letter, barely a hundred words long, unwittingly became a major contributor to today's opioid crisis, researchers say.

"This has recently been a matter of a lot of angst for me," Dr. Hershel Jick, co-author of that letter, told Morning Edition host David Greene recently. "We have published nearly 400 papers on drug safety, but never before have we had one that got into such a bizarre and unhealthy situation."

Updated at 9:20 a.m. ET on June 19

Amazon is buying Whole Foods, in a merger that values Whole Foods stock at $42 a share — a premium over the price of around $33 at the close of trading on Thursday. The Internet retailer says it's buying the brick-and-mortar fixture in a deal that is valued at $13.7 billion.

Whole Foods, which opened its first store in Austin, Texas, back in 1980, now has 465 stores in North America and the U.K.

Investing In Bitcoin: A Wise Choice?

Jun 16, 2017

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Japanese toilets have come a long way from the early 20th century, when many people in Japan still used "squatters," which were built into the floor.

Western toilets became popular after World War II. And today, signature Japanese toilets offer the world's most futuristic and automated technology when nature calls.

Far below the surface of the ocean, off the coast of eastern Australia, is an area simply known as "the abyss." The largest and deepest habitat on the planet, the abyssal zone stretches well beyond Australia's waters and spans half the world's oceans — but it remains largely unexplored.

Marine biologist Tim O'Hara recently set out change that, on a monthlong expedition with about two dozen scientists from seven countries. The voyage dredged up hundreds of previously unknown species along the way.

About 20 percent of baby food samples tested over a decade-long period had detectable levels of lead, according to a new report from Environmental Defense Fund, a nonprofit group.

The group evaluated data collected by the Food and Drug Administration from 2003 to 2013. This included 2,164 baby food samples. They found 89 percent of grape juice samples, 86 percent of sweet potatoes samples and 47 percent of teething biscuits samples contained detectable levels of lead.

Uber is a mess — the "bad boy" ethos shattered, a nervous breakdown in its place. This week, the CEO announced he is taking a sudden leave of absence. A former U.S. attorney general released a brutal audit of the startup's culture. It's a terrifying moment for many investors who want that $70 billion unicorn to make them rich or richer — not implode.

After surgery to treat her epilepsy severed the connection between the two halves of her brain, Karen's left hand took on a mind of its own, acting against her will to undress or even to slap her. Amazing, to be sure. But what may be even more amazing is that most people who have split-brain surgery don't notice anything different at all.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Five Ikea designers last week were envisioning tiny houses meet Mars.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Esraa Yousria Saleh was walking down El Hussein, a busy street in downtown Cairo famous for its souvenirs and tchotchkes, when a man in his early 20s made eye contact with her. He followed her, circled her, then suddenly — she felt a hot breath in her ear:

"I would like to put it all inside."

Saleh, 28, a feminist and activist based in Egypt, was furious. Why did that man feel like he could look at her? Follow her? Say those lewd words to her?

A study published Thursday shows how a bird flu virus that's sickening and killing people in China could mutate to potentially become more contagious.

Just three changes could be enough to do the trick, scientists report in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

And the news comes just as federal officials are getting ready to lift a moratorium on controversial lab experiments that would deliberately create flu viruses with mutations like these.

Paul Terefenko / The Lavin Agency

When you take your child to the doctor, she or he might be pretty skilled at seeing what’s wrong and figuring out what’s causing the physical symptoms. But when it comes to behavioral issues, we are beginning to learn that the causes might not always be obvious, but could instead have been caused by issues in the past.

People who work with children are starting to take toxic stress into account when it comes to helping them through a technique known as trauma-informed care. 

The use of electronic cigarettes by middle and high school students in the United States has dropped for the first time since the federal government started tracking the use of these products by young people.

The number of teenagers using e-cigarettes fell from 3 million in 2015 to 2.2 million in 2016, according to a report published Thursday in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Goats and Soda is NPR's global health and development blog. We tell stories of life in our changing world, focusing on low- and middle-income countries. And we keep in mind that we're all neighbors in this global village.

Pages