Fitness, well-being, disease, medical research and issues related to Seton and St. David's Healthcare, Austin Regional Clinic and other health care providers in Austin and Central Texas

Callie Richmond/Texas Tribune

The rate of infant mortality in Texas is almost six per 1,000 people, but the infant mortality rate for the black population statewide and in Travis County is twice as high, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

But, health officials in Texas are trying to reduce the rates with a new statewide partnership to close that gap.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Hundreds of thousands of Texas women may have attempted to self-induce abortions, according to a “first of its kind” study released Tuesday by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP). The study, which estimates between 100,000 and 240,000 women have attempted self-induction, also indicates that these rates of self-induction may be higher in Texas than in other U.S. states. 

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Setting up what could be a landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to take up a legal challenge to Texas’ 2013 abortion law, which could shut down about half of the state’s 19 remaining abortion clinics.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

There's a simple way to protect against severe spinal cord birth defects: You can eat a bowl of cereal. If the cereal was processed in the U.S., it's been fortified with folic acid, and getting about 400 micrograms of folic acid everyday can help prevent those birth defects.

Most U.S. cereals have 100 percent of the daily value, but products made from corn masa flour are not fortified, because the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t allow it.

Some groups are trying to change this and get corn flour masa included.

Sarah Jasmine Montgomery/KUT

Most cancer survivors disclose their health history in job interviews, according to researchers at Rice and Penn State Universities. And, researchers have found that if cancer survivors talk about their cancer history when seeking a retail job, they’re less likely to get a callback from the store manager.

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman/TexasTribune

Doctors in Austin are trying to urgently match five-year-old Leland with a new kidney. He’s on dialysis, and in the highest and most urgent category of patients needing a new organ.

His situation is an example of the pressing need for organ donors in Texas and across the U.S.

Pu Ying Huang/KUT

The recent news from the World Health Organization about processed meats and red meats – and associated cancer risks – might have you thinking about your diet. One group that’s probably not affected: vegans.

Vegans don’t eat anything that involves animals. No meat. No dairy or eggs. Many even avoid honey, too.

For a long time, they were considered extremist vegetarians living on the fringe, but that’s begun to change. In Austin, some vegan products are so popular, chain grocery stores can’t even keep them in stock. 


Researchers are in Austin this week for the International Conference on Neural Tube Defects. It coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act — a law that led to the U.S. government acknowledging a link between folic acid deficiency during pregnancy and neural tube defects, like spina bifida.

The law also led to mandatory enrichment of certain foods with folic acid, but not all foods — particularly, tortillas. 

Image credit Sarah Montgomery/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Earlier this week, as the state of Texas moved to kick Planned Parenthood out of the Medicaid program, Gov. Greg Abbott hinted there might be more to come.

Tamir Khalifa/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Days after Texas health officials announced they want to kick Planned Parenthood out of the state Medicaid program, state investigators on Thursday visited Planned Parenthood facilities in San Antonio, Houston and Dallas.

Image via Sarah Montgomery/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Earlier this year, a three-person group calling itself the Center for Medical Progress started releasing surreptitious videos of Planned Parenthood officials from across the country – including Houston.

Tamir Khalifa/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Texas health officials say they are kicking Planned Parenthood out of the state Medicaid program entirely over what they called "acts of misconduct" revealed in undercover videos filmed earlier this year.

Image courtesy Dr. Edward Wozniak/DSHS

You know how some bugs – like mosquitos – can transmit illnesses, like the West Nile virus or malaria, through a bite?

If you're struck by a macaw, sucked into a jet engine or are having relationship problems with your in-laws, fear not: Your doctor now has a medical diagnosis code for that.

On Thursday, doctors, hospitals and health insurers must start using the ICD-10, a vast new set of alphanumeric codes for describing diseases and injuries in unprecedented detail.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

People struggling with alcoholism can trace their addiction to a population of neurons in the brain that, when stimulated, influence whether one drink leads to two.

Image via flickr/Cayusa (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Since the televised murder of two reporters last week in Virginia, a 17-year-old was killed in a shooting near an elementary school in southwest Houston, a police officer was shot and killed in Sunset, Louisiana, when he tried to intervene in a violent domestic dispute, and an on-campus shooting at Texas Southern University injured one person.

Terrence Henry/KUT News

Many of us will experience trauma at some point in our lives, and some of us will get Post-Traumatic Stress Order, or PTSD.

It’s not unique to military veterans. It affects 8 million adults in the U.S. every year. Recent research by Mark Powers, an associate professor at the Institute for Mental Health Research at the University of Texas at Austin, shows how running could make PTSD treatment more efficient and tolerable for patients.  

KUT News

Vaccines have been in the news yet again lately. On June 30, 2015, California’s Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that requires almost all school children to be fully vaccinated in order to go to school, allowing only some medical exemptions.

Meantime, a health care company in Central Texas says it will no longer treat children who don’t get fully immunized. The company cites a measles outbreak that started in Disneyland last year as a chief reason for the policy change. Texas does allow parents to opt out of vaccinations if they use religious or personal beliefs. 

US Army Corps of Engineers/flickr

The Austin Regional Clinic will stop accepting new unvaccinated pediatric patients — that is, children whose parents have opted them out of routine vaccinations. The ARC announced its new policy this morning.

The regional health system, which has locations in Austin plus six surrounding cities, cites patient safety as the reason for the new regulation, set to take effect Wednesday.

“Parents who are unwilling to commit to a vaccination schedule will need to find another physician outside of ARC,” clinic officials said in the release.

State Health Tests Prodded Blue Bell Recall

Apr 24, 2015
John Jordan/Texas Tribune

Via the Texas Tribune:

It’s the phone call no company in Texas wants to receive.

Shortly after lab tests on two Blue Bell ice cream flavors — Mint Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough — came back “presumptive positive” for the deadly bacteria Listeria monocytogenes , Kathy Perkins reached for the phone and contacted the Brenham-based company with the unfavorable news.