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

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A University of Texas study funded by the Texas Department of State Health Services says expanding sexual health education in public schools could help reduce teen births in Texas, a state with one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country.  Texas dropped a health education requirement for high school students in 2009, making it one of the only states in the country not to require it.

Traditionally, it was thought that the best way to prevent teen pregnancy was to encourage kids to wait until they finish school and get a job before having kids. The report found that teens and parents of all ethnic groups tend to agree. Yet teenage girls are still getting pregnant and having babies.

Time to reconsider your post-workout sports drink. When it comes to exercise recovery, chocolate milk may be your new best friend.

According to researchers at the University of Texas in Austin, the sweet dairy beverage many of us remember as an elementary school essential is now considered the ideal drink to consume after a workout.

Photo by Stephen Yeh

When family doctor Bruce Malone was in the intensive care unit at Austin’s Brackenridge Hospital about ten years ago, he saw something that disturbed him to his core: an 11-year-old child who was brain dead after he crashed his bicycle into a culvert. The boy was unharmed from the neck down.

“I know that he would have been okay had he worn his helmet,” Malone told KUT News. “It just makes you angry.”

Photo by DucDigital

San Marcos could hold a referendum this November on whether to ban indoor smoking in public places. The City Council moved a step closer to putting the question on the ballot at its last meeting on Tuesday. But not everyone is sold on the idea.

San Marcos deputy mayor Chris Jones says he’s concerned the measure could harm local business at a time when the city is still recovering from an economic downturn.

Photo by Jessica Lucia

Have you been sneezing more this summer? A victim to itchy, watery eyes? Well, you’re not alone. Dr. Dana Sprute, the Program Director at the UT Southwestern Austin Family Medicine Residency Program, notes allergies in Austin are running higher than usual.

Photo by Nathan Bernier/KUT News

The health reform bill House lawmakers will consider today has drawn an unexpected band of supporters: abortion opponents. The measure — designed to improve health care delivery and cut waste in a system where costs are spiraling — contains a single provision aimed at doing what GOP lawmakers have fought to do all year: restrict funding to Planned Parenthood.

Graphic courtesy USDA

Texas school districts are responding to the newest innovation in nutrition guidelines from the The U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA today unveiled MyPlate. It's a graphic rendition of suggested proportional portion sizes for fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy.

Melanie Konarik, director of child nutrition services for Spring Independent School District, called the design "excellent," saying that teachers and parents can use it to educate young people about the importance of balanced meals.

Photo courtesy of US Senator Christopher Coons on Flickr

Doctors at Seton Medical Center in Austin say they expect to discharge Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad today.

Fayyad was hospitalized Sunday, after complaining of chest pains. He was in Austin to attend his son’s graduation at UT-Austin.

Photo courtesy The Texas Tribune

 The Women’s Health Program could be on its way out.

Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, said this morning that he doesn’t have the votes in the Senate to bring up a bill to renew the family planning and preventative care program — a measure many Democrats oppose because it would formally ban Planned Parenthood from participating.

Photo by KUT News

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a legal brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit today, urging it to strike down the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It was part of a legal action taken by a coalition of 26 states.

Photo by BrittneyBush

Armadillos aren't known for being particularly cuddly. But a new study may offer a better reason never to pick up one of the armor-plated critters: they can spread leprosy.

Photo courtesy of Brian Zaccheo

Scientists at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a biosensor that costs as little as a  dollar to help test for acute pancreatitis. The materials include a 12-cent LED light, aluminum foil, gelatin, milk protein, and a few other inexpensive items. Brian Zaccheo, a graduate research assistant at UT’s chemistry department, says that the development saves time, money, and lives by using this low-tech approach.

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Two Texas infants died in bathtubs within a 12 hour period yesterday, prompting state officials to remind parents never to leave small children alone around any container of water.

Photo by pixajen

Williamson County is the healthiest county in the state, according to a ranking released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin.  Travis County ranked sixth in the survey. The least healthy county was Marion, an area about half-an-hour northeast of San Antonio.

Researchers say they used these criteria to rank counties:

1.  Overall Health Outcomes

Photo by KUT News

O.K.  We're actually a couple of days early, since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010.  But advocacy groups have been celebrating/commiserating the anniversary for the last week…so we thought we'd give you a sampling of what's already out there.

Political parties are saying pretty much what each has been saying over the last year.  Democtrats seem to be keeping quite so far... but those on the "Right" are vocal about their displeasure.

African-Americans in Texas are more likely than whites to die from a host of diseases including diabetes, cancer, and HIV. But efforts to educate minorities about health risks through social media have largely fallen flat. Broadband access is limited in minority communities, government red tape restricts state agencies, and public health groups often fail to engage effectively with their social media followers.

Got Flu Shot?

Mar 1, 2011
Photo by KUT News

Warmer weather...bright sunshine...trees starting to's beginning to look a lot like spring!  But that doesn't mean that flu season's over.

Image courtesy D. Clow-Maryland

The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office is investigating five infant deaths that have occurred in the past two weeks. Three of those deaths occurred while the child was sleeping with their parents in an adult bed. The other two deaths happened on what investigators call "unconventional sleep surfaces," like large pillow, couches or air mattresses.

Officials want to make sure parents know the ABC's of creating a safe sleeping environment for a child.

Photo courtesy of Chris Martino

Two Democratic lawmakers from Austin have filed bills they say would reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies in Texas.  The legislation would extend the state’s Medicaid Women’s Health Program, which provides low-income women with  family planning exams , health screenings, and birth control. 

The program is set to expire this December, and in a press conference this morning, Senator Kirk Watson and Representative Mark Strama said it saves the state $21 million a year by preventing pregnancies.  

Photo by Matt Largey/KUT.

Hundreds of people flocked to Murchison Middle School this morning for the chance to sled on fresh powder.  Cardboard boxes, Tupperware tops and even a Big Wheels tricycle with cardboard duct taped to the wheels passed for sleds.

Meantime, in Butler Park near the Palmer Events Center...