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State lawmakers are discussing today what to do about a plan to cut Medicaid reimbursement rates for groups that provide therapy to young children with developmental issues.

Stefano Corso/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Editor's note: This story uses first names only because of an ongoing case with Child Protective Services.

Since at least the 1970s, researchers in Texas have been calling substance use a "family affair." A study by the Texas Research Institute's Drug Abuse Clinic compared two groups of families similar to each other in every aspect – from socio-economic status to ethnic background. The only difference was that one group had at least one family member who was an addict. The study found fathers dealing with drugs were critical and arrogant, mothers were disenfranchised and children were bitter and resentful.

That was in the '70s, but the story is not so different today.


SimonQ/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Concerns are growing over something that's being called the "kill pill" – drugs laced with fentanyl, one of the most powerful prescription painkillers in the world.

Pills laced with fentanyl were linked to Prince's death earlier this year. According to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, incidents of law-enforcement officers finding drugs containing fentanyl have jumped 426 percent from 2013-2014, the latest figures available.

 


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From Texas Standard:

Marla Torrado and Felipa Puente are taking a tour of a Texaco station in the Dove Springs community of Austin. The predominantly low-income neighborhood is a far cry from downtown’s flagship Whole Foods Market and the city’s most Instagrammed restaurants. Dove Springs is situated in the southeast part of the city. To social scientists it’s a well-known food desert. There are few restaurants – mostly fast food – and just one large grocery store on the neighborhood’s edge, that’s difficult to reach without a car.

But residents like Torrado and Puente are leading a movement to bring healthy food to every corner – or corner store. The store owner is showing them some of the healthier food items that need restocking: bags of brown rice, dried beans, and whole grain cereal.

Torrado is the local food retail organizer for the Healthy Corner Store Initiative. Go Austin Vamos Austin, or GAVA, is spearheading the effort – it’s a grassroots coalition of nonprofits and community members.

 


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.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

For years, residents of Del Valle have been asking city leaders to bring a grocery store to their neighborhood. But it hasn’t happened. So why is it so hard to do?

Can Bats Conquer Zika?

Jul 12, 2016
Flickr/mzmo (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

You've probably heard bats by the hundreds, flying out of a cave or from under a bridge. But have you heard a bat solo, squeaking to be fed?

"She can chew and talk all at the same time," Dianne Odegard says, talking to the female bat she's feeding. "It’s the middle of the day, you’re not that hungry."


Pexels (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

When it comes to kids and their well-being, Texas isn't doing a very good job. In fact, the state ranks very close to the bottom of the list – at 43.

That ranking comes from the latest "Kids Count" study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Texas-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, which looked at areas like education rankings and the number of children without health insurance.

 


Intropin/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

This morning, while most of us were sleeping, something happened in the state that might mean the difference between life and death for you or someone you love.

Much has been said and written about the opioid epidemic in the U.S. Of the 25 cities with the highest rate of opioid abuse, four are in Texas –Texarkana, Amarillo, Odessa and Longview. And over the past 15 years, opioid overdoses have risen 80 percent.

A drug called naloxone can help prevent many, if not most, deaths from overdoses in the event of an emergency, but the drug is highly regulated and available only with a doctor’s prescription.

 


Beth Cortez-Neavel/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, most low-income, black and Hispanic people were segregated to the east side of what is now IH-35 in Austin. Now, the same people who’ve lived in the area for decades are being pushed out. Old houses are torn down to make way for new ones and property taxes are rising rapidly.


Pixabay (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

These days clean water from the tap is often a privilege that is taken for granted. We're accustomed to running to the sink whenever we're thirsty. But as the brown tap water in Flint and Crystal City show, we cannot always trust that clean water will be available.

But water contamination isn't always something that is easy to sniff out because of its color or smell. For some, especially those living in rural agricultural areas, water may have substances that put pregnant women in danger without their knowledge.


Joy Diaz/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard: 

I'm the child of an addict. However, it is a life I only know anecdotally. My father was cured before I was born. But the man in front of me is in the thick of it.

"It is a horrible life – look at me – I'm homeless, I squeegee windows at the red light. I spend between $80 to $150 a day (on heroin)," the man tells me.

He says he’s ashamed, and that's why he won't tell me his name. He says he's in his 30s but his parched skin and sunken cheeks make him look decades older.

 


Image via Flickr/Donnie Ray Jones (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Every two weeks in Bexar County, a baby dies.

That number is the highest in the state. The majority of deaths are attributed to unsafe sleep patterns or "co-sleeping," when the baby sleeps with parents or a sibling. Babies can suffocate or be smothered while sleeping with bigger people.

A San Antonio hospital is taking a cue from Finland and offering "baby boxes" to new mothers. But what are they and how do they help keep babies safe?

 


Why Texas is a Hotbed for Tropical Diseases

Jan 6, 2016
Image via Flickr/US Department of Agriculture (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Heavy rains capped by periods of hot muggy weather, spare tires holding standing water, mosquitoes and fleas carrying dangerous strains of diseases that threaten the local populace. You’re probably picturing the Philippines or maybe Haiti, but what if I told you this scene is right here in Texas?

flickr/mydailymorsel

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 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.

From Texas Standard

Rehabilitation after a health issue or accident can be a long and painful process. For people recovering from a stroke or spinal cord injury, the challenges are unique. One side of the body can be affected more than the other, and damage to the brain can also cause roadblocks to regaining movement. But some Texas researchers have developed a new way to help stroke and spinal cord injury patients move again.

Megan Jo Olson for Texas Standard.

This story comes from Texas Standard.

At the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon, Texas Standard volunteer Megan Jo Olson approached a handful of women and asked them an uncomfortable question: “Have you experienced stress urinary incontinence?”

The answer from a lot of the women was, “Yes.”

The new year is expected to bring yet another round of state laws to restrict abortion — and 2015 could also be the year a challenge to at least one of these laws could reach the Supreme Court.

The ongoing spike in abortion laws started after 2010, when Republicans won big in the midterms. Since then, state lawmakers have passed more than 200 abortion regulations — more than in the entire decade before. And with more statehouse gains in the fall elections, abortion opponents expect another good year.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

The task force put together by Texas Governor Rick Perry to evaluate the state’s response to Ebola has come out with a list of recommendations for how to handle health care workers exposed to the virus.

The Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response has outlined four categories of exposure – from no identifiable risk to high risk. Those at a lower risk would just take their temperatures twice a day while high risk people would be restricted in their movement for the 21-day incubation period.

The task force says it "does not support mandatory government-imposed strict quarantine" for those who are cooperative and not showing symptoms – unless they meet the high risk description.

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