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

Laura Rice, KUT News

It’s becoming more common for kids at school to share a classroom – or a lunchroom – with a student with food allergies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says as many as one in 15 kids in the U.S. have food allergies – and those numbers appear to be on the rise.

The issue is a serious one because kids can become very sick or die from exposure to certain foods. But kids also may feel isolated or be bullied because of the precautions they have to take.

Some local schools and parents are taking a unique route towards promoting awareness and acceptance.

Whooping cough made a comeback in California last year, which researchers have linked to vaccine refusals. And with new measles outbreaks in Southern California, New York and British Columbia, the debate over vaccination is also spreading.

Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

Update: South Texas spa owner Elva Navarro pleaded guilty at her trial on June 9, 2014 in a federal court in McAllen to injecting a liquid silicone substance into her clients. This allegedly took place at the Bella Face and Body Spa, also in McAllen.

Navarro could face up to three years in prison at her sentencing, expected to take place in August.

Original Story (April 7, 2014): A few weeks ago officials arrested a spa owner in the Rio Grande Valley for allegedly giving clients injections of liquid silicone – a procedure which is not approved by the FDA.

The injections were allegedly sold as sort of quick plastic surgery: buttocks enhancements. 

No one knows yet how many women in the Rio Grande Valley have gotten the illegal silicone injections. Investigators say the procedures have led to lengthy hospitalizations.

This post was updated at 4:40 p.m. ET. with Obama's comments.

President Obama emerged from the White House on Tuesday to rousing applause. He announced that 7.1 million Americans had signed up for health care through the federal exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act.

"This law is doing what it's supposed to do," Obama said at the Rose Garden. "It's working. It's helping people from coast to coast."

The last day of sign-ups for health insurance on the website is turning out to have a lot in common with the first: lots of computer problems.

But there are some big differences, too. Back in October the not-ready-for-prime-time website was only able to enroll six people on its first day.

KUT News

Austin nonprofits are trying to sign up as many people as possible before tonight’s deadline to apply for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Insure Central Texas has four enrollment centers in the Austin area. Program director Elizabeth Colvin says the demand for their services is exceeding their capacity; this morning they had 100 people lined up by the time they opened at 6 a.m.

The deadline to begin signing up is 11 p.m. tonight. Colvin advises people to at least start the application this evening, as those who do start then can finish the process at a later time.

With this year's deadline to register for individual health insurance just a weekend away, much attention is being lavished on two numbers — the 6 million Americans who have signed up so far, and the percentage of those folks who are (or aren't) young.

But experts say the national numbers actually don't mean very much.

Games like Flappy Bird and Candy Crush have helped many of us de-stress during long waits at the doctor's office and crowded Metro rides. But what if an app could actually help with mental health?

Researchers from Hunter College and the City University of New York say they've developed an app that can reduce anxiety.

Next week is the last chance for most people without insurance to sign up for individual health coverage for the remainder of 2014.

Yet according to the latest monthly tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 60 percent of those without coverage still don't know that.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in the latest challenge to the Obama health care overhaul.

This time the issue is whether for-profit corporations, citing religious objections, may refuse to provide some, or potentially all, contraceptive services in health plans offered to employees. It is a case that touches lots of hot-button issues.

In enacting the ACA, Congress required large employers to provide basic preventive care for employees. That turned out to include all 20 contraceptive methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Seniors in the Rio Grande Valley’s Hidalgo County have dozens of day care centers to choose from – places that help keep seniors from spending the day home alone.

Centers like Mi Casa Adult Day Care in Mission, Texas – not far from McAllen – dot many street corners here in this part of the Rio Grande Valley. They offer rides to see the doctor, to pay bills or to pick up a social security check.

At lunchtime on the North Harris campus of Houston's Lone Star Community College, students stream through the lobby of the student services center, plugged into their headphones or rushing to class.

Many walk right past a small information table about the Affordable Care Act.

Count Los Angeles as the latest big city to say no to electronic cigarettes.

The City Council there voted unanimously on Tuesday to ban use of the devices, which release vaporized nicotine, in almost all public places, including bars, workplaces and beaches.

If you want to teach kids to adopt healthier eating habits, it's probably unwise to give them coupons for fast food chains at school.

And those advertisements for sugary sodas on the gymnasium scoreboard? Seems like another mixed message schools are sending kids.

Seton Healthcare Family Archives Division

The Daughters of Charity came to Austin in 1902, in response to a letter writing campaign by a group of local women. Their mission: to build and operate a first-class medical facility.

At the time, Austin’s existing hospital was decidedly less than first-class.

Lynn Romero for KUT News

The future is a little clearer for Central Texas students who need glasses.

Today, the Kids Vision for Life mobile vision clinic was unveiled at Perez Elementary School, an Austin ISD school that serves the Dove Springs neighborhood hit by devastating floods last October.

If you're looking to go out for dinner, see a movie or plunk down big bucks on a new TV, chances are you'll look online for help with the decision.

Lots of people are now checking out potential doctors that way, too. Online ratings are becoming part of how many Americans shop for a physician, according to a study in the latest issue of JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association.

In the first six weeks of 2014, the Travis County Medical Examiner's Office has had five cases of infants dying while on the same sleep surface as one or more adults. Forensic Nurse Leanne Courtney says that's more than in all of each of the previous two years.

"There were four, both for 2013 and 2012; however, the total amount of infant deaths last year were eight, but so far this year, we're creeping up towards that number, so we really want to emphasize to parents and caretakers about the risks of unsafe sleeping environments," Courtney said.

In an age when consumers want transparency in how their food is produced, meat producers are under the microscope.

And the meat industry is responding: Antibiotic-free chicken is showing up everywhere you look.

Spencer Selvidge/KUT

Houston doctor Theodore Herring Jr. had his license temporarily suspended last week, after he was found to have violated a new state law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

That provision is among the ones under review by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. While the law is tied up in that court, abortion doctors in Texas are still required to follow it – meaning they need admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic.