Health & Science

Jessica Stefonik is grinning. She's got a bounce in her step. Her cheeks are a little puffy and her speech is a bit thick.

"It feels weird right now, but I'll get used to it," she says.

What she's trying to get used to is the feeling of having teeth.

On the day we met, Stefonik, a mom of three from Mosinee, Wis., got a set of dentures to replace all of her upper teeth, which she lost over many years to disease and decay.

Stefonik is just 31 years old.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

For some, there's a a glam factor attached to the vegan lifestyle. And these days, there seems to be a growing chorus singing the praises of the environmental and health benefits of a plant-centric diet.

Eid al-Adha, an important Muslim holiday, starts on Monday in many countries. The Festival of Sacrifice, which marks Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, involves days of feasting and celebration. But the holiday has health officials in some countries — Afghanistan, in particular — wringing their hands about health risks. It's the feasts that are the problem — specifically, the meat.

California Aims To Limit Surprise Medical Bills

Sep 11, 2016

When it comes to navigating the intricacies of health insurance, Cassie Ray considers herself a pro. She actually reads her policy, including the fine print.

So when the 57-year-old from Fairfield, Calif., needed routine follow-up surgery after a mastectomy, she did her homework. "I looked up on my insurer's network and made sure the outpatient facility that I was being referred to was in my network," Ray says.

A month later, she received an unwelcome surprise: a $580 bill for an out-of-network anesthesiologist.

It is tempting to make every fiasco at Facebook about the power (and the abuse of power) of the algorithm. The "napalm girl" controversy does not neatly fit that storyline. A little-known team of humans at Facebook decided to remove the iconic photo from the site this week.

That move revealed, in a klutzy way, just how much the company is struggling internally to exercise the most basic editorial judgment, despite claims by senior leadership that the system is working.

Zuckerberg's Silence

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. Each weekend, we highlight some of the best stories.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Marijuana Pays For Schools In Colorado — Kind Of — But How Will It Help Maine?

Sep 10, 2016

Voters in Maine and a handful of other states are deciding whether to legalize recreational marijuana this November. One thing that could swing the vote is the possibility of millions of dollars in tax revenue from retail marijuana sales. Colorado was the first state in the country to roll out a tax scheme for legal marijuana in 2013, after recreational marijuana was legalized in 2012. So how are voters in Colorado spending the cash, and what should Maine voters expect?

Nobody wants to be attacked by a chigger. These six-legged mite larva — so small they're invisible to the naked eye — have a powerful bite that causes severe itching. They also transmit a disease called scrub typhus, named for the forest undergrowth, or scrub, that is home to the chiggers.

What leads some people to say no — rather than yes — to vaccines? A survey of nearly 66,000 people about attitudes toward immunization has found some surprising results. In France, 41 percent of those surveyed said they did not have confidence in the safety of vaccines. By contrast, in Bangladesh, fewer than one percent of those surveyed expressed a lack of confidence.

A deadly fungus that's been devastating frog populations is spreading across the globe — it's helped drive the extinction of 200 species so far. In California, the chytrid fungus has moved inexorably across the Sierra Nevada, leaving thousands of frogs dead.

But scientists are trying to turn the tide against the fungus with an experimental treatment, one that could matter to frogs worldwide.

In 2008, Dana Walrath asked her mother Alice to move in with her. Alice's Alzheimer's disease had gotten worse, and even though she still had all her humor and graces, she could no longer take care of herself.

During the next two and-a-half years, Walrath and her mother connected through stories and memories, even though Alice didn't always recognize her daughter. Walrath, a medical anthropologist at the Vermont College of Medicine, in Burlington, Vt., looks back fondly on that time.

With the grim milestone of 500 homicides already passed this year in Chicago, police are grappling with a toxic mix of illegal firearms and gang culture.

And social media is added to that mix with gang-affiliated Facebook pages, Twitter handles and YouTube channels. Images of a kid getting beat down or worse are easy to find online.

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