Medicine

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Suicide, Veterans and How a Simple Idea Is Trying to Combat a Crisis

As the nation continues to confront an epidemic of suicide, we explore the promising work of Dr. Jerry Motto, who in the 1960s, pioneered a simple, yet surprisingly successful method of treatment that is being implemented today.
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How an Underground Abortion Network Got Started

It started with one request. A friend's sister was pregnant and suicidal. Before long a clandestine group called Jane was created to help women in Chicago with illegal abortions.
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Genetic Screening: Controlling Heredity

With every new advance in prenatal genetic screening, the ability to prevent suffering has also sparked difficult questions about what should count as “a disease” versus “a difference,” and whether we’re in danger of wiping out certain segments of the population. This story was produced in collaboration with PBS, American Experience.
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Abortion Was Illegal. This Secret Group Defied the Law

We tell the story of a little known chapter in American history, before Roe v. Wade, when a clandestine group provided thousands of women with illegal abortions in Chicago.
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A Trusted Pill Turned Deadly. How Tylenol Made a Comeback

How do some companies regain public trust after something goes seriously wrong, while others fail? A look at how Tylenol responded after someone spiked its pills with poison in the 1980s sheds some light.
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Surviving Heroin

After surviving four heroin overdoses, Heather Wetzel hopes she can stay clean for her daughter.
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Where the Debate Over "Designer Babies" Began

Genetic technology is advancing, and critics are warning of a slippery slope. We spoke with the scientists working at the forefront of the research, families who have benefited and the first-ever "test-tube" baby to understand the debate.
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Life as the World's First Test Tube Baby

On July 25, 1978, Louise Brown became the first ever so-called “test-tube baby.” Her birth was one of the biggest media stories of the 20th century, and she became famous just by being born.
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Rehab Rarely Works for Opioid Addicts. Could a Vaccine?

Overdose deaths are skyrocketing, forcing researchers to find new ways to think about and treat addiction.
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Selling the Code: Can Genetic Testing Services Really Predict Your Future?

Today, companies market genetic tests for everything from cancer to diet and exercise. But how much can tests like 23andme really predict?
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Fixing the Code: Genetically Engineering Your DNA to Cure Disease

For the past 20 years, scientists have been trying to cure disease by altering DNA. We examine how with CRISPR Cas-9 gene editing and the revival of gene therapy, they're closer than ever.
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Finding the Code: The Race to Sequence the Human Genome and What It Means

One of biology’s most spectacular achievements -- the race to sequence the human genome -- was billed as a way to end disease. Here's where it led.
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Anorexia and Suicide: A Mother's Fight for Change

Kitty Westin shares the story of her daughter, Anna, who killed herself after struggling with anorexia for years.
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Myths and Misperceptions about Eating Disorders

30 million people will suffer from eating disorders in their lifetime, yet decades after Karen Carpenter died from anorexia, myths about eating disorders continue.
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Pandemics, Plagues and Politics

What do the CIA and Nigerian imams have to do with the fight to end polio? Retro Report examines how the worlds of politics and public health can collide.
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Lobotomy: A Dangerous Fad's Lingering Effect on Mental Illness Treatment

From the 1930s to the 1950s a radical surgery -- the Lobotomy -- would forever change our understanding and treatment of the mentally ill.
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Trump, Vaccines and the Man Fueling the Controversy

Measles is a disease once thought eradicated, so why is it making a comeback? Andrew Wakefield is partly to blame -- and his connection to Donald Trump is interesting.
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Could You Patent the Sun?

Decades after Dr. Jonas Salk opposed patenting the polio vaccine, the pharmaceutical industry has changed.  What does that mean for the development of innovative drugs and for people whose lives depend on them?
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LSD: From 60s Counterculture to Doctor's Office

In the 1960s, mind-altering drugs like LSD helped fuel the counter-culture. Today, psychedelics are turning on a new generation – of scientists.
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A Change of Heart

The artificial heart became a media sensation in the 1980s as it both raised hopes and spread controversy. Today its impact on medical science is still playing out in surprising ways.
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The Boy in the Bubble

In the early 1970s, an unusual boy captivated the nation. Now, decades later, his story continues to unfold in remarkable ways.
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The Doctor

The pediatric neurosurgeon who first identified shaken baby syndrome has a surprising take on the very syndrome he's credited with discovering.
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The Nanny Murder Case: Shaken Baby Syndrome on Trial

In 1997, a young British nanny charged with murder brought shaken baby syndrome into the national spotlight, and raised a scientific debate that continues to shape child abuse cases today.
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A Right to Die?

Should doctors be allowed to help suffering patients die? In 1990, with his homemade suicide machine, Dr. Jack Kevorkian raised that question. It's an issue Americans still struggle with today.
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Vaccines: An Unhealthy Skepticism

An outbreak of measles that started at Disneyland turned a spotlight on those who choose not to vaccinate their children. Watch this Emmy-nominated backstory to understand how we got to a place where fears can triumph over established science.
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Is Multiple Personality Disorder Real? One Woman's Story

In the 1970s, the TV movie “Sybil” introduced much of the nation to multiple personality disorder and launched a controversy that continues to resonate.
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How Prozac Turned Depression Medication into a Cultural Phenomenon

When Prozac was introduced in 1988, the green-and-cream pill to treat depression launched a cultural revolution that continues to echo.
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The Enduring Legacy of Terri Schiavo

The controversy over Terri Schiavo’s case elevated a family matter into a political battle that continues to frame end-of-life issues today.
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The Long War on Cancer

Forty-two years ago when President Richard Nixon vowed to make curing cancer a national crusade, many anticipated quick results.
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Walter Reed: The Battle for Recovery

In 2007, the scandalous treatment of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center shocked the nation. Today, after major reforms, what’s changed for America’s injured soldiers?
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Infamous Birth Defect Drug Thalidomide's Unlikely Comeback

In the 1950s, thalidomide cut a wide swath of destruction across the world, leaving behind thousands of deformed infants, but that was only the beginning of the story.