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Smoke rises from a wildfire approaching Twisp, Wash., on Aug. 19. Smoke can damage the health of people hundreds of miles downwind.
Ted S. Warren/AP
August 25, 2015 Cities and towns across the West are warning residents that high levels of smoke from forest fires threaten their health, with no sign of abating. That means indoor recess and no vacuuming.
Workers for the Safe Streets violence interruption project including Gardnel Carter, center, talk with Baltimore residents in 2010.
Kenneth K. Lam/MCT via Getty Images
August 7, 2015 Dr. Leana Wen came to Baltimore as health commissioner to combat the city's longstanding problems with violence, drug addiction and health disparities. She finds that solutions don't come easy.
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Leana Wen hands out awards to business owners for their efforts to support breastfeeding at the Baltimore City Health Department on Tuesday.
August 6, 2015 Leana Wen, Baltimore's new health commissioner, is trying to apply public health approaches to ameliorate the city's deep-seated problems with poverty, violence and disease.
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Maybe she goes to school in Wyoming, where no schools start after 8:30 a.m.
August 6, 2015 Last year the nation's pediatricians said middle and high schoolers shouldn't start school before 8:30 a.m., so they can get much-needed sleep. But almost all schools start before that, the CDC finds.
Louis Arevalo holds his Truvada pills at his home in Los Angeles. The drug can be over 90 percent effective at preventing spread of HIV.
Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health News
August 5, 2015 Lack of knowledge about the drug, and stigmas attached to sleeping with men and to perceived promiscuity, are major barriers to PrEP treatment. The costs and side effects are also concerns for many.
Frustration with a crying baby can lead some parents and caregivers to shake a baby.
July 29, 2015 Doubters have said that merely shaking a baby can't cause brain damage or death. Listing six injuries associated with the syndrome will make it easier to identify child abuse, a study says.
E-cigarettes are marketed as a safer way to inhale nicotine, but the evidence remains unclear on benefits and harms.
Nam Y. Huh/AP
June 25, 2015 It's easy to think that hardcore smokers will never quit, and thus e-cigarettes without the smoke is a better alternative. The changing demographics of smoking suggests otherwise, a study finds.
Young people say they're most likely to have serious drinking problems.
June 3, 2015 Lots of people say they're having trouble with alcohol. Native Americans and young, college-educated white men are most apt to be at risk. And most people don't get any help cutting back.
The question of how to communicate with parents about vaccines is getting increasing interest from academia.
June 1, 2015 An effort to get doctors to improve their communication skills didn't reduce the number of new mothers hesitant about vaccines. But researchers say this is just a first try at a worthy concept.
May 31, 2015 People living just a few miles from each other in American cities can have radically different chances of living a long healthy life.
Competitive swimmers often practice breath holding to increase endurance.
May 29, 2015 When you hold your breath underwater, you might pass out before you realize you need oxygen right now. Experienced swimmers have drowned as a result, and most people aren't aware of the risk.
Controversy over childhood vaccines may make it too easy to embrace what appear to be new vaccine benefits.
May 27, 2015 It seemed to make sense that the childhood Hib vaccine could cut leukemia risk by keeping the immune system in check. But proving there's cause and effect at work turns out to be a challenge.
May 21, 2015 In some counties in the South, almost 20 percent of adults have severe vision loss. And those communities are also likely to be among the nation's poorest. Lack of regular eye care is just one issue.
Dense breast tissue shows up as white on X-rays, making it harder to spot cancers, which are also white.
May 19, 2015 Women with dense breasts are more likely to get cancer and less likely to catch it early on a mammogram. But degree of density matters too, a study finds, as do other factors like family history.
Cough? Check. Fever? Check. But bet you didn't think that this common fungus, Histoplasma capsulatum, could be making you sick.
May 14, 2015 The infectious disease world is not short on surprises. Take the people in Montana and Idaho who looked like they had pneumonia. It turned out they had a fungal disease never before seen there.
In a FIT zone at Bell Street Park in East Palo Alto, Calif., friends from the neighborhood now gather regularly to play volleyball.
May 10, 2015 A California city with a crime problem — shootings, drug dealing and gang activity — finds that getting more kids and cops playing sports together regularly in the park can make a big difference.
Volunteer Patrick Pezzati searches yards in Turners Falls, Mass., for discarded heroin needles.
April 28, 2015 The rise in heroin use in the town of Turners Falls, Mass., has led to another problem: a proliferation of discarded hypodermic needles. Police can't keep up, so they've asked residents to help.
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March 11, 2015 A dentist unearths documents detailing the sugar industry's influence over the National Institutes of Health's research agenda in the 1960s and 1970s. At issue: setting limits for sugar intake.
March 3, 2015 People say many things affect health, from personal behavior and childhood abuse to God's will, according to a new poll. The people behind the numbers explain what it means for people and communities.
Uzuri Pease-Greene, right, leads a walk through the public housing complex in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco where her family lives. She is working to have the old buildings replaced.
Talia Herman for NPR
March 3, 2015 Living in substandard housing can make health problems like asthma much worse. Two mothers tell of their families' struggles to stay healthy in poor housing and their efforts to improve their lot.
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Closing loopholes in background checks for gun purchases would reduce the risk of death and injury, doctors' and attorneys' groups say.
Alexa Miller/Getty Images
February 26, 2015 More than 32,000 people die each year in the United States in gun-related suicides, violence and accidents. The physicians seek universal background checks and other measures to reduce the toll.
The bacteria in the soap are usually less of a problem than the bacteria on your hands.
February 23, 2015 Everyone presumes that soap is clean, but manufacturers know it's always got a few random germs in it. Most of the time that's not a problem, but every now and then things can get out of control.
The Pseudomonas stutzeri bacterium, commonly found in soil, was the most prevalent subway microbe. Lower Manhattan was its prime hangout.
Mason/Cell Systems 2015
February 6, 2015 Think expedition to the rain forest, but one where you'll need a MetroCard to get around. The microbial life of the New York subways turns out to be as rich, odd and confounding as the city itself.
January 27, 2015 Almost 680,000 children in the United States were victims of abuse in 2013. And state and local governments aren't doing enough to report abuse and investigate it, according to an independent study.
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