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Health & Science

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In this "Medical Minute" segment, WABE senior correspondent Jim Burress and medical analyst Dr. Ford Vox talk about compelling evidence that fish oil supplements taken by pregnant women may decrease the risk of asthma in their children. 


Bisgaard et al. "Fish Oil–Derived Fatty Acids in Pregnancy and Wheeze and Asthma in Offspring." New England Journal of Medicine. 2016; 375:2530-2539


In this "Medical Minute" segment, WABE senior correspondent Jim Burress and medical analyst Dr. Ford Vox talk about home-based testing for sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which breathing is repeatedly interrupted while a person sleeps. This problem affects 25 percent of adults aged 30 to 70 and leads to dangerous fatigue that can cause traffic accidents.

Alison Guillory / WABE

A conference on climate change and health is back on but apparently minus the U.S. government.

Several organizers including former Vice President Al Gore have resurrected the meeting set for next month in Atlanta.

The government's top public health agency had planned the conference then canceled it in December without explanation.

Atlanta Regional Commission

As the new Republican federal administration digs into the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, many Georgians are left unsure about the future of their health insurance.

Stuart Jeffries

There's a lot we still don't know about the sun. For instance, why does it get hotter as you move away from its center? A Georgia State professor is trying to answer that question, and he's traveled to the South Pole to do it.

It makes sense to study the sun from the bottom of the world, since it doesn’t set during the summer.

“We can get to see the sun 24 hours a day,” GSU physics and astronomy professor Stuart Jeffries said.

He’s down there now, working out of a lab that’s buried under the snow near the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

Mary Claire Kelly / WABE

Global warming is going to steal away some of those postcard-perfect weather days in the future, according to a first-of-its-kind projection of nice weather.

On average, Earth will have 10 fewer days of mild and mostly dry weather by the end of the century, the researchers estimate. Some places will get more days perfect for picnics or outdoor weddings, while other places will lose a lot. Rio de Janeiro, Miami and much of Africa are big losers, while Europe and Seattle will gain nicer weather.

David Goldman / Associated Press

President Jimmy Carter says he plans to meet with President-elect Donald Trump to highlight the effort to eradicate Guinea worm disease.

Tess Yaney, a volunteer at the Botanical Garden, feeds frogs in the frogPOD.
Alison Guillory / WABE

A famous frog died at the Atlanta Botanical Garden in September.

 In this June 30, 2009 file photo, Tylenol Extra Strenth is shown in a medicine cabinet at a home in Palo Alto, Calif.
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, file

In this "Medical Minute" segment, WABE senior correspondent Jim Burress and medical analyst Dr. Ford Vox talk about how even some of the most common drugs in your medicine cabinet can have unexpected side effects. The growing evidence that drugs like Tylenol and common NSAIDS like Aleve can contribute to hearing loss serve as a reminder that you’ve always got to keep in mind everything you take has a potential cost. Make sure any drug is your best option before you take it, and make an effort get off it whenever the benefits aren’t clear.



2016 was Georgia's warmest year in 122 years of record keeping. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Georgia was the only state in the lower 48 to break its record last year. (Alaska also experienced its warmest year on record.)

Stephen B. Morton / Associated Press

The Obama administration announced on Friday that companies will not be allowed to look for oil or gas off the coast of Georgia and other southern states.

Last March, the federal government decided not to issue drilling permits for the mid- and south- Atlantic Ocean between 2017 and 2022, but companies hoped they could still search for oil and gas reserves.

via Pixabay

As Atlantans prepare for the snow, buying groceries and heading home from work and school early, there's one thing there's not much anyone can do anything about -- at least not at this point: trees.

Lots of ice building up can break branches or take a tree down. But when trees fall during big storms, that usually means they were already having issues, says arborist Chris Heim, district manager at Davey Tree Company in Atlanta. The best thing to do to prevent that, he says, is to keep trees healthy in the first place – getting them checked and keeping them pruned.   

Aspen Institute

Dr. Tom Frieden will step down as head of the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Inauguration Day.  That's standard practice when a new president takes power.

WABE’s Amy Kiley spoke with Frieden about his time with the CDC and the future of the institution.  He started by addressing concerns that a new administration might reduce funding for the CDC or change its priorities.

Interview Highlights:

Carrie Stevenson via AP

Most babies should start eating peanut-containing foods well before their first birthday, say guidelines released Thursday that aim to protect high-risk tots and other youngsters, too, from developing the dangerous food allergy.

The new guidelines from the National Institutes of Health mark a shift in dietary advice, based on landmark research that found early exposure dramatically lowers a baby's chances of becoming allergic.

Romeo Durscher / NASA

On the afternoon of Aug. 21, 2017, a little after 2:30, the sky will get dark, the temperature will drop and the stars will come out. Wild animals might be heading to sleep, and flowers will close their petals.  

“A total solar eclipse, I would say, is widely regarded as probably one of the most breathtaking, amazing phenomenon that you can observe from this planet Earth with your own eyes,” said Lika Guhathakurta, a heliophysicist at NASA.

Courtesy of Laurie Stone

There’s one holiday ritual that goes back a long time, and it doesn’t involve strings of lights, office parties, giving presents or baking cookies.

It's the Christmas Bird Count, a tradition that began in 1900, according to the Audubon Society, when an ornithologist suggested counting birds, instead of what had been the Christmas tradition of hunting them.

Now, in the weeks around Christmas, there are thousands of counts in the U.S., Canada and a handful of other countries. Tens of thousands of people count tens of millions of birds every year.

via Pixabay

Own a hot tub, or thinking about getting in one while on vacation? In this "Medical Minute" segment, WABE senior correspondent Jim Burress and medical analyst Dr. Ford Vox discuss just what can happen if it isn’t properly maintained. There’s a reason two diseases are named for their association with hot tubs. Soak safe this winter!


via Pixabay

In this "Medical Minute" segment, WABE senior correspondent Jim Burress and medical analyst Dr. Ford Vox discuss the striking extent to which our health and even our lifespans are impacted by social influences, especially geography.

via Pixabay

In this "Medical Minute" segment, WABE senior correspondent Jim Burress and medical analyst Dr. Ford Vox talk about physical problems that might all be in your head. Everything from a lump in your throat to fainting spells can actually be a manifestation of subconscious stress. Evidence now suggests doctors shouldn’t shy away from telling patients when they think a problem is “psychogenic.”


Dr. Celine Saulnier, (R), sets up a child in the toddler eye-tracking research equipment as a fellow prepares to monitor her eye movements.
Emory University School of Medicine

Like a lot of parents, Shannon Hewett knew the signs of autism. She looked out for them when her son TJ was born.

“When he was a baby, he made eye contact with me—and even today, if he is engaging with me socially, he will make eye contact,” she said.

But it turns out TJ is autistic, even with all that eye contact.  He was diagnosed when he was 2 years old, after Shannon noticed he wasn’t talking the way other kids did. TJ also had problems with social cues; Shannon said it was often like he didn’t even hear her when she called his name.

Jonah Snead

Georgia’s Stephen C. Foster State Park is in the middle of the Okefenokee Swamp. It’s very remote, and that means at night it is very dark. So dark, it’s now being recognized as one of the best places in the country to see the night sky.

The stars are so bright, they reflect off the surface of the water, like the moon would if it was up.  

A sunken boat is exposed by receding water levels on Lake Lanier. Rainfall is expected Monday night, but water restrictions are expected to stay in place through the winter months.
David Goldman / Associated Press

After more than 42 days of no rain in metro Atlanta, scattered showers are expected Monday evening, with steadier rain overnight.

In Cobb County, the rain will be “the first rain in Cobb in 67 days, a record since record keeping began in the 1880s,” according to Kathy Nguyen, the county’s water department’s senior project manager.  

John Bazemore / Associated Press

Around the Southeast, wildfires have burned more than 150 square miles. A third of that is right here in Georgia. Smoke has covered Atlanta on and off for days.

Georgia officials and people who live in the areas affected say they’ve never seen anything like it.

But this may not be so unprecedented.

“It really depends on how far back you look,” said Leda Kobziar, who teaches at the University of Idaho and is the President of the Association for Fire Ecology. “Whether it's outside of the norm ecologically, I would say probably not.”

The Chattahoochee River is one of the major state rivers at risk, according to the Georgia Water Coalition. In August, the state got rid of a minimum water flow requirement to allow for a reserve in case of a drought.
David Barasoain / WABE

Environmental groups in Georgia that focus on water say the Donald Trump presidency won't affect their agenda.

The Georgia Water Coalition puts out a priority list of water issues in the state each year, calling it the "dirty dozen." Included on the list, which was released on Wednesday, are coal ash, pipeline construction, overflowing sewers, fracking, groundwater contamination and soil erosion.

A haze hovers over the downtown skyline from a wildfire burning in the northwest part of the state, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, in Atlanta.
AP Photo/David Goldman

State health officials said they've seen an increase this past week in emergency room visits because of asthma and other respiratory issues as wildfires continue to burn in parts of north Georgia. 

"The likelihood is strong that smoke is causing at least part of this," said Dr. Patrick O'Neal, director of health protection at the Georgia Department of Public Health. "It's not uncommon to see some increase in respiratory issues that show in November, December every year but this has been higher than normal."

In this "Medical Minute" segment, WABE senior correspondent Jim Burress and medical analyst Dr. Ford Vox talk about the current state of Parkinson’s disease treatment, and how wearable monitors and apps are helping neurologists adjust medications and better recognize when a new approach is needed.


Heldman et al. Wearable Sensors for Advanced Therapy Referral in Parkinson's Disease. Journal of Parkinsons Disease. 2016 Jul 2;6(3):631-8.

via Pixabay

In this "Medical Minute" segment, WABE senior correspondent Jim Burress and medical analyst Dr. Ford Vox discuss the rise of the peanut allergy, which is the most common nut allergy and, for some folks, can provoke a potentially deadly anaphylactic reaction. A variety of treatments are under investigation, all designed to prevent scenarios where your life depends on an EpiPen. In this segment we highlight the Viaskin peanut patch.


Georgia Forestry Commission

It's unusually hot: Sunday was record-breaking in Atlanta. It's unusually dry: drought conditions cover much of the state. And there are an unusual number of wildfires burning.

One fire, burning in the Cohutta Wilderness in north Georgia, grew to more than 1,200 acres over the weekend. That's one of hundreds that have burned around the state this fall.

In this "Medical Minute" segment, WABE senior correspondent Jim Burress and medical analyst Dr. Ford Vox talk about cardiac arrest.

Even in 2016, and with the best medical care the United States has to offer, if your heart stops and you’re still needing CPR when paramedics deliver you to the hospital, your chances of survival are less than 8 percent.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

Health care premiums under the Affordable Care Act are going up in Georgia.

That's according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, which says the average hike in metro Atlanta will be 13 percent before tax credits.

According to the report, metro Atlanta residents eligible for tax credits won’t see a change in their premiums, if they're open to switching to another health care plan.