Shawn Vestal: Gains made by, for kids eclipsed by poverty

It sometimes seems that – in the realms where concerns about poverty and childhood are taken seriously – the news is always bad. This is not because the news is always bad, however. And sometimes, in the push to address very real problems, underlying improvements … Read more

Latest stories

At seven months, babies ‘rehearse’ to start speaking

Even when they are only 7 months old, babies are mentally working out the mechanics of how to form words with their mouths - well before they’re able to utter their first recognizable syllable. The latest discovery from the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS), in Seattle, underscores the importance of speaking to babies from the moment they are born, even though, in those early months, it may not look like it’s having much effect, said Patricia Kuhl, co-director of I-LABS. Read more

Health bulletin board

New listings Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes - Annual event presented by the American Diabetes Association. The walk is open to people of all ages and activity levels; you can walk any distance up to 4 ½ miles. Register online at For more information call (509) 624-7478, ext. 2281 or like the Facebook page at Oct. 5, 8:30 a.m., Riverfront Park, 507 N. Howard St. Read more

Manufacturer, pediatricians clash over drug’s necessity

CHICAGO – A costly drug given mostly to premature babies is at the center of a clash between the manufacturer and the nation’s leading pediatricians group, which recommends scaling back use of the medicine. The dispute involves new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which say medical evidence shows the drug benefits few children other than very young preemies. The medicine guards against a common but usually mild virus that can cause serious lung problems. Read more

Study links DNA to the risk of developing schizophrenia

WASHINGTON – Scientists have linked more than 100 spots in our DNA to the risk of developing schizophrenia, casting light on the mystery of what makes the disease tick. Such work eventually could point to new treatments, although they are many years away. Already, the new results provide the first hard genetic evidence to bolster a theory connecting the immune system to the disease. Read more

House Call: The long road to becoming a doctor

Last year, I became one of four faculty guides for second-year students in the new medical school program in Spokane. We now have all phases of medical training here, and you will likely encounter medical students, residents and fellows in your doctor’s office or at the hospital as they rotate through these locations to gain clinical experience with local physicians. You are an important part of helping them become full-fledged physicians. The path to becoming a physician begins at a four-year university where premed students take the chemistry, physics and biology courses necessary to enter medical school. Premed students can major in any subject as long as they also take the required science courses. The next step is taking the Medical College Admission Test. Read more

Washington law bans kids, teens from tanning beds

Tanning beds in Washington are now for adults only. A state law that took effect in June prohibits people younger than 18 from using ultraviolet tanning devices such as tanning booths and beds and sunlamps without a doctor’s prescription. The law aims to protect children from the harmful effects of UV radiation. Read more

Ask Dr. K: Main culprit in skin damage: Sun

DEAR DOCTOR K: As I’ve entered my 40s, the skin on my hands and face has started to change. What happens to our skin as we age? DEAR READER: The shortest answer is that our skin gets old, like the rest of us. In fact, the three layers of skin get old in different ways. Read more

Studies find health risks for prescription niacin

New details from two studies reveal more side effects from niacin, a drug that hundreds of thousands of Americans take for cholesterol problems and general heart health. Some prominent doctors say the drug now seems too risky for routine use. Niacin is a type of B vitamin long sold over the counter and in higher prescription doses. Some people take it alone or with statin medicines such as Lipitor for cholesterol problems. Read more

Washington state agency sets rules for pot edibles

Marijuana stores in Washington won’t be allowed to sell lollipops, gummy bears or other candies infused with the drug, but will be able to sell properly labeled brownies and cookies, a state agency decided Wednesday. The Liquor Control Board approved rules for marijuana-infused food products, also known as edibles, designed to restrict items that may appeal strongly to children. Read more

Study finds positive exercise experience matters

It’s a common rookie mistake, but plenty of diet-and-exercise veterans make it, too: With an act of will, you muster yourself to the gym or the track, and you gut your way through an arduous workout. When you sit down to dinner or go to the break room later that day, you say to yourself, “By God, I’ve earned this (sugary soda, yummy snack, second helping, dessert, second glass of wine). I worked hard today!” A week or so later, you’re standing on the scale wondering what happened. Read more

Ask Dr. K: Health risk not based on cholesterol alone

DEAR DOCTOR K: I am 71 years old. My LDL cholesterol is 160, but my HDL is 122. Does my high HDL cancel out concerns about my high LDL cholesterol? DEAR READER: I can’t give you a definite answer for a simple reason: There are very few people like you. Therefore, there are few studies of people like you. Here’s what we know. Read more

Study finds increase in antibiotic use

Antibiotic use has surged by 36 percent worldwide in a decade, much of it unwarranted, according to a new study. The rise, particularly in countries with a burgeoning middle class, heightens concerns that overuse of antibiotics is leaving more of the world’s population vulnerable to drug-resistant bacteria, according to the authors of the analysis, published online Thursday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases. Read more

WSU Spokane expands cancer, sleep research

Two new researchers in Spokane could help explain how cancer cells grow. Following Washington State University’s approval of a new College of Medical Sciences on the Spokane campus in May, WSU has hired five faculty members to bolster its cancer and sleep research cores. Read more

UW offering parents advice on babies’ brain growth

SEATTLE – Scientists have learned a lot about the preschool brain over the past decade. But unless they read medical journals, most parents and others who care for their young children have yet to hear about those discoveries. Researchers at the University of Washington and a group of nonprofit partners are trying to change that by making outreach and education a bigger part of their work. Read more

Parkour helps seniors cope with arthritis

LONDON – On a recent morning in London, Lara Thomson practiced spinning on benches, swinging from metal bars and balancing off raised ledges – all elements of a daredevil discipline known as “parkour.” What was unusual about the scene is that Thomson is 79 and all of her classmates are over 60. Read more

Sexually transmitted disease cases skyrocketing in Spokane, North Idaho

Sexually transmitted diseases continue to spread across Spokane and North Idaho at dangerous levels despite warnings of rampant growth. Spokane health officials announced Thursday gonorrhea is in outbreak status after identified cases grew more than 50 percent compared to the average number of cases over the last six quarters. Cases in North Idaho’s five most-northern counties jumped 300 percent in 2013 and are on pace to have even more cases this year. Read more