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Stories by Katherine Harmon

Breath Test Could Sniff Out Infections in Minutes

Bacteria hiding in the lungs might not be able to hide much longer. Although traditional tests can take days or weeks to culture to determine the presence of certain harmful bacteria—such as those that cause tuberculosis—a much more rapid technique for detecting lung infections might be on the horizon.Researchers have developed a test that can detect the presence of common infectious bacteria based just on the breath...

January 11, 2013 — Katherine Harmon

Some Barefoot Runners Tip Orthodoxy Back on Heels

Barefoot, five-finger, super-minimal, zero-drop. Whatever joggers embrace as the approach-du-jour for improving form, most of these trends stem from one physiological principal: people who grow up running sans footwear—the way our ancestors did for hundreds of thousands of years—run by landing on their fore- or mid-foot.A new study finds, however, that not all habitually barefoot runners today actually run that way...

January 9, 2013 — Katherine Harmon

Common STD Grows Resistant to Treatment in North America

Stain of fluid containing gonorrhea courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/CDC/Norman Jacobs The most commonly acquired sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the U.S., chlamydia and gonorrhea, are usually cleared out swiftly and easily with a dose of oral antibiotics...

January 8, 2013 — Katherine Harmon

How to Revive the Promise of Better Health Care through IT

Four years ago the Obama administration offered up $19 billion in stimulus funds to help get health care IT (including electronic health records, or EHRs) in the pink—or at least in the black.Better information technology throughout the health care system would save money, improve care and bring the health care industry into the 21st century, proponents argued.But, as is obvious by the continuance of paper records, isolated institutional networks and clunky interfaces, health care IT is still in critical condition.A new report, assembled by the RAND Corporation, a non-profit, non-partisan research group, suggests that health care IT is not a hopeless case, however...

January 7, 2013 — Katherine Harmon

Octopuses Feast On Florida's Stone Crab Straight from Traps

Florida stone crabs ( Menippe mercenaria ) are known to diners for their sweet, meaty claws. And octopuses also seem to relish these delicacies. Reports are coming out of Florida that the stone crab fishery is way down this year—and many think local common octopuses ( Octopus vulgaris ) are to blame.The crabs are caught in traps, most of which have a main funnel-shaped entrance and a bait pouch inside, which lures the crustaceans with tasty morsels such as fish heads or pigs' feet...

January 4, 2013 — Katherine Harmon

Did Human Ancestors "Walk" Up Trees? [Video]

A new study suggests that we might be thinking about tree climbing in our recent ancestors all wrong.The traditional idea that our ancestors descended from the trees and gradually—and exclusively—began walking upright might be a gross over simplification...

December 31, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Early Childhood Obesity Rates Might Be Slowing Nation-Wide

About one in three children in the U.S. are now overweight, and since the 1980s the number of children who are obese has more than tripled. But a new study of 26.7 million young children from low-income families shows that in this group of kids, the tidal wave of obesity might finally be receding.Being obese as a child not only increases the risk of early-life health problems, such as joint problems, pre-diabetes and social stigmatization, but it also dramatically increases the likelihood of being obese later in life, which can lead to chronic diseases, including cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease...

December 25, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Shootings May Threaten Global Polio Eradication Effort

The deaths this week of nine polio vaccine workers in Pakistan at the hands of gunmen indicate a threat not only to workers but also to the effort to eradicate the disease—locally and globally.Earlier this year, the international push to eradicate the crippling—and sometimes deadly—childhood disease from its final holdouts (Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan) was still in full force...

December 20, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Common Antibiotic Not Helpful for Cough and Respiratory Infection

When I was growing up in the 1980s and '90s with two younger brothers, the antibiotic amoxicillin was a frequent guest in our house. Strep throat, sinus infections, sore throats, coughs; we all remember that thick, pink, bubble gum-flavored liquid perhaps a little too well...

December 19, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Intensive Weight Loss Programs Might Help Reverse Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes has long been thought of as a chronic, irreversible disease. Some 25 million Americans are afflicted with the illness, which is associated with obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, as well as high blood pressure...

December 18, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

New Toxic Nocturnal Primate Species Discovered

The slow loris shouldn't be a difficult object of study. For one thing, it's slow—very slow (think sloth slow). And these small primates, which are unique in possessing a toxic bite to ward off predators, are charismatic due in large part to their compelling, wide-eyed faces...

December 14, 2012 — Katherine Harmon
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