These are items compiled by staff of the LA Times.
- VACCINE COURT
High-stakes trial weighs autism claims
WASHINGTON – The case of Cedillo vs. Secretary of Health and Human Services is the culmination of one of the most wrenching episodes of modern public health. For more than a decade, thousands of families of autistic children have clamored to gain legitimacy for their claim that childhood vaccines are to blame for their children’s plight. Now they are having their day in court. By Jia-Rui Chong and Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writers.
Caffeine may not give a jolt to health
There’s growing evidence that both coffee and tea can fight cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and more. Because most people equate these beverages with the caffeine in them, it’s tempting to conclude that the stimulant is what gives these wonder drinks their powers. That may not be the case. Caffeine’s effects on health appear to be considerably more nuanced. By Emily Sohn, Special to The Times.
- FERTILITY TREATMENT
Multiple birth, multiple risks
Two weeks ago, Brianna Morrison gave birth to six babies in Minneapolis. Less than a day later, Jenny Masche delivered six babies in a Phoenix hospital. Both of the women had been treated for infertility and had used fertility-enhancing drugs. The two families expressed joy, but many fertility doctors were dismayed. By Shari Roan, Times Staff Writer.
Elephant’s death puts zoos in spotlight
SEATTLE – The death of Hansa the elephant remains a mystery. Last week, preliminary necropsy results only ruled out a host of illnesses in the sudden demise of the 6-year-old star of Woodland Park Zoo. Hansa’s death set off public mourning in the city, and again raised questions about the advisability of keeping elephants in urban zoos. By Lynn Marshall, Times Staff Writer.
Decoding the secret lives of dogs
DNA testing has gone to the dogs. With sequencing technology becoming less expensive, dog owners are having their pets tested – and sometimes finding that unraveling the mysteries of their genetic code can be a mixed blessing. By Karen Kaplan, Times Staff Writer.
- ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Echinacea not to be sneezed at after all?
The herbal remedy echinacea can prevent colds and speed recovery from runny noses, coughs and other symptoms, according to a study published Sunday that could renew interest in the discredited product. By Denise Gellene, Times Staff Writer.
Proud of yourself? Everyone can tell
Two researchers are probably walking a little taller these days, puffing out their chests, maybe tilting their heads back and smiling slightly. If they’re looking a little smug, perhaps it’s because their recent studies on the nature of pride have added some small but important pieces to a psychological puzzle. Among their conclusions: Pride appears to be a universal, human emotion, and it comes in two flavors: positive and arrogant. By Janet Cromley, Times Staff Writer.
- GLOBAL WARMING
Proliferating icebergs may ease global warming
The proliferation of drifting Antarctic icebergs caused by rising temperatures is creating a vast new ecosystem of plankton, krill and seabirds that may have the power to absorb some of the carbon dioxide that is driving global warming, scientists reported today. By Amber Dance, Times Staff Writer.
Galveston poised to defy geologists
GALVESTON, TEXAS – Leaders of this fast-eroding barrier island – the scene of the deadliest hurricane in American history – are about to approve nearly 4,000 new homes and two midrise hotels despite geologists’ warnings that the massive development would sever a ridge that serves as the island’s natural storm shield. By Miguel Bustillo, Times Staff Writer.
Generic drugs? No thanks
RECENTLY, managed-care insurance companies have been increasing their pressure on me and other doctors to change patients over to generic alternatives to some of our most popular drugs. On the surface, this would appear to be a good idea, one that saves money and thus should be a primary consideration when prescribing drugs. Sometimes it is – but not always. By Marc Siegel.