Health

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

Miguel Gutierrez, Jr/KUT

Within a two-year period between 2010 and 2012, the rate of pregnant women dying in Texas doubled – and it’s not entirely clear why.


Harris County health officials are reporting the first death related to the Zika virus in Texas.

An infant born with microcephaly, a condition where the child has an abnormally small head, died shortly after birth last month. Zika is a known cause of the birth defect. The child's mother did not know she had contracted Zika while traveling in El Salvador earlier this year. 

This is the second case of Zika-related microcephaly in Harris County.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Last year more people died from drug overdose than from traffic accidents. The majority of these deaths involve opioids, whether that’s prescription medication or street drugs. In Austin, some addicts are replacing opioids with an herbal supplement, which has the potential to save lives. But across the country, opponents of the herb are mounting a drive to get it banned.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

The Zika virus will be front and center as public health officials meet in Austin Monday to discuss infectious disease preparedness in the state. Besides funding issues, though, pockets of high uninsured rates in Texas could make monitoring for the mosquito-transmitted virus more complicated.


Callie Richmond / Texas Tribune

Health care providers, funeral operators and women's rights activists on Thursday are expected to tell Texas health officials that a rule requiring the cremation or burial of fetal remains will do little to improve public health and could be burdensome to women who miscarry and those seeking abortions.  

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

With federal funding to fight Zika stuck in Congress, and amid news that mosquito-to-human transmission of the virus has reached the continental U.S., Texas officials announced on Wednesday they would allow Medicaid to pay for mosquito repellent for women, in the hopes of preventing the disease.

Does Flossing Help Or Not? The Evidence Is Mixed At Best

Aug 3, 2016

Flossing has quietly lost its place among recommendations for daily health, at least as prescribed in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are issued every five years by the U.S. departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture.

That could be because there's scant evidence that flossing does much to keep teeth and gums healthy.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

This Friday is the last day state health officials are taking public comment on an updated informational booklet they put together. It’s given to abortion providers, who are then required to give it to women seeking the procedure. Abortion rights advocates have long criticized the booklet because it contains medically inaccurate information.

Mental illness can be hard to acknowledge or talk about. Two Austinites who are educators and advocates with the National Alliance on Mental Illness want to help people get past that. And they’re focusing on the African American community.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Adult stem cells may skirt the pesky theological issues raised by embryonic stem cell research, but their unregulated marketplace is raising ethical issues of its own.

A study released at the end of last month found hundreds of clinics across the country that are marketing “unapproved” stem-cell therapies directly to patients.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT News

Correction: An earlier version of this story suggested the cuts were imminent and would be going into effect July 15. Due to a Texas Supreme Court ruling, those cuts are temporarily on hold. We regret the error.

Groups who provide therapy to children with developmental issues are slated to receive less money from the state for those services. That’s thanks to a slew of cuts approved by the Texas legislature last year. For now those cuts are temporarily on hold, thanks to a Texas Supreme Court ruling last week.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT News

A number of health care leaders and advocates want Texas to include mosquito repellent in pharmacy benefits for people on Medicaid and other government health programs.  


Gabriel Cristóval Pérez / KUT

Alcohol is so ubiquitous in Austin you’d be hard-pressed to find a place where you can’t a get a drink. We aren’t talking just about restaurants and bars here. Think of coffee shops, taco stands, bakeries, hair salons, festivals, farmers markets – even workspaces, in some instances.  

For most of us, this is just part of living in Austin. It might even be part of what you love about the city — part of Austin's charm, right? This is a place where you can kick back and grab a beer with friends practically anywhere. But what if you are trying to be sober?


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

The Texas Women’s Health Program has been a little rocky for the past few years. Ever since the state kicked out providers like Planned Parenthood, the program has been struggling to provide reproductive health care to all the low-income women it’s supposed to serve. But state health officials have been working on improving the program. And after getting some feedback from around the state, state health officials say they are launching some big changes this Friday.


Dell Medical School via YouTube

The first class of the new Dell Medical School at UT Austin begins its first day of orientation Monday. Students will begin their first official day of class on July 5. It’s a moment that’s been many years in the making, and local health care and education leaders say this is the beginning of an effort to close some of the health care gaps in Austin.


flickr/zolivier

Have you ever wondered why when you are around happy people, you feel happier, and when you're around sad people you feel a little sadder? Emotions can be contagious, just like the flu. However, recent studies show that the way we emit and convey emotion is more complex than we might think.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke talk about emotional contagion.


Anti-Overdose Drug Becoming Easily Available in Texas

Jun 21, 2016
Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Just before his 25th birthday, Miles McEntee died of a heroin overdose last June in the Austin apartment he shared with his younger sister. Kelly McEntee wonders if her son might still be alive if he or his sister, Taylor, had a dose of naloxone in the medicine cabinet.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

It’s been six months since a law went into effect that changes the rules for judicial bypasses – that's when a judge allows a minor to have an abortion without getting consent or notifying an adult. These bypasses are mostly sought by young women who fear abuse or can’t locate a parent or guardian. Advocates say this legal tool is vital to the young women who use it. But, since a law passed last year, it’s been harder than ever to get them.


James Gathany / Centers for Disease Control

Texas is gearing up for Zika. Last week, state Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, asked state health officials to come up with “a clear and concise plan” for dealing with a possible outbreak.

Even though leaders are on high alert, experts warn there are some underlying health care access issues in Texas that could make dealing with Zika difficult.

Laura Buckman for The Texas Tribune

In the last five months, LaNelia Ramette has been to the home of eight Denton County families who had just lost a loved one to suicide. Three of those times, she arrived on the scene before the police tape came down.

Unlike the police officers and medical examiners she encounters on her shifts, Ramette is not a typical first responder. She is a volunteer who appears at the scene of tragedy — with the medical examiner’s permission — to be a voice of compassion in a suicide survivor’s darkest hour.

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