Arkansas Health

Families affected by peanut allergies— which are often severe, especially for children— now have the opportunity to receive treatment from a drug recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

The drug, Palforzia, stems from an 18-year research effort from the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute on the campus of Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.

Arkansas Department of Health
Arkansas Department of Health

Arkansans for whom holiday stress and winter blues turn to more serious symptoms of depression have somewhere to turn as a result of legislation passed in 2017 that created a state-funded suicide prevention call center run by the Arkansas Department of Health.

Tyler West, who works with the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention on both a state and national level, says the strategy is unique.

March of Dimes

Babies in Arkansas are more likely to be born prematurely than in most other states, according to a report released Monday by the March of Dimes. It gives Arkansas a grade of F based on measurements of maternal and children's health.

Data from 2018 shows 11.6% of Arkansas babies were born three or more weeks before their due date, an increase of 0.2% over the previous year. The national rate is 10% and only four other states have a higher preterm birth rate.

Faith Sharp, with March of Dimes, said many Arkansas mothers lack access to pre-natal care.

David Monteith / KUAR News

The Arkansas Attorney General's office is hosting summit meetings to discuss the rise in vaping by the state's young people. On Monday, over 100 educators, lawmakers, and health professionals met at Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, to hear the latest news on vaping.

Paragould School Superintendent Debbie Smith said having current facts from some of the state's leading medical professionals will help when talking to teens and parents.

Lindsay Fox /

Arkansas’s first vaping summits are being planned for this week in partnership with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will host the two events, with the first scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Monday at Children’s Hall on the Arkansas Children’s Hospital campus.

Vaping / Wikimedia Commons

An Arkansas teenager who began vaping last year is suing a leading e-cigarette maker, accusing the company of deceptive marketing and fraudulently concealing the addictive nature of its products.

The unnamed teenager and his mother filed the lawsuit against Juul Labs, Inc. last week in federal court in Little Rock and are seeking class action status on behalf of all Arkansas residents who bought or used Juul's products. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

With the 2019- 2020 flu season about to begin, state public health officials are urging Arkansans to get vaccinated. The Arkansas Department of Health briefed reporters Monday on the importance of being vaccinated in time for the flu season's start in October.

Dr. Nate Smith, the department's director, said people getting a vaccination is important despite the difficulty in accurately tracking the number of flu cases in the state.

Period. End of Sentence

In partnership with Arkansas Women’s Outreach, the Central Arkansas Library System will begin providing women’s hygiene products from its main branch on Monday, Oct. 7.

Crystal Edwards is overseeing the pilot program and says the idea was started by staff at the downtown library.

Vaping / Wikimedia Commons

Clinicians are being urged to report any cases potentially involving vaping-related illnesses to the Arkansas Department of Health. Nationwide, 450 possible cases of vaping-induced illnesses are being investigated, including six deaths, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Arkansas, the ADH says as of Thursday there are eight possible cases. Two have been confirmed, two are probable and four are under investigation.


The infrastructure of Arkansas’s medical marijuana program could grow by early next year, according to the state Department of Finance and Administration.

So far, eight of the state's 32 licensed dispensaries are open, and three of five cultivators are producing product. DFA spokesman Scott Hardin said the two licensed cultivation facilities that have yet to open, Delta Medical Cannabis Co. and Natural State Wellness Enterprises, both in Newport, should be operating by the end of the year.

Dental hygienists are starting to fill a crital gap in oral health in Arkansas, experts say, given the state has a  shortage of dentists, especially in low-income rural districts.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Amid an epidemic of opioid deaths, Arkansas school nurses are being equipped with an antidote that can reverse overdoses. During a ceremony Tuesday at the state Capitol, Gov. Asa Hutchinson presented several nurses with naloxone kits, saying they will provide an "important lifesaving capability for our schools."

File Photo

While no cases of measles have been recorded in Arkansas so far, residents can expect the illness to reach the state eventually. In a telebriefing yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a total of 704 cases of measles in 22 different states. According to the CDC, three bordering states: Missouri, Tennessee and Texas have reported cases.

Dr. Gary Wheeler, Chief Medical Officer for the Arkansas Department of Health, says the upcoming travel season could put some Arkansans at risk.

Brushing and flossing may lower the risk of heart disease, a new study suggests.

The observational study conducted by the Institute of Biomedical and Health Sciences at Hiroshima University in Japan and presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in Chicago last October looked at the tooth-brushing behavior of 682 people.  After adjusting for other factors, researchers found that those who did not follow the suggested brushing time of at least two minutes at least twice a day had three times the risk of heart problems when compared with people who brushed for longer.

Arkansas Legislature

An Arkansas House committee failed to take action on a bill would allow physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. The proposal would have allowed patients who have a disease verified by the appropriate physician as life ending, the option to seek medication that would kill them.

Rep. Dan Douglas, R-Bentonville, presented the bill to the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee on Tuesday. He said it would just give another option of care for patients who are suffering.

Matt DeCample

TV reporter, press spokesman, PR professional, film enthusiast, comedian. Not necessarily in that order. Matt DeCample wore a lot of hats in his too-short life.

A former KATV reporter and longtime spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe, DeCample died Sunday evening after a nearly three-year battle with cancer.

He came to Arkansas in the 1990’s to work for KATV Ch. 7 in Little Rock as a general assignment reporter. Bob Steel, the former news director who hired him, said DeCample was one-of-a-kind.

Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission

Final approval has been given to 32 Arkansas businesses to sell medical marijuana. State officials say the drug could be available to people with qualifying conditions by April.

The Department of Finance and Administration said Tuesday that each of the businesses selected to become a dispensary has paid the required $15,000 license fee and posted a $100,000 performance bond. Four companies were selected in each of the eight zones established statewide.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

The five members of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to accept an outside consulting group's scores for marijuana dispensary applications. 

With two new commissioners present, the commission effectively ended two years of regulatory setbacks that waylaid the implementation of the state's medical marijuana amendment, which Arkansas voters approved in Nov. 2016. 

With cultivation licenses already awarded, officials say medical cannabis will likely be available for purchase by the state's nearly 7,000 approved patients by April of 2019. 

The holidays can create an extra burden for people struggling after the death of  a loved one, a divorce or other stressors throughout the year.  Dr. Brittney Schrick, a family life specialist for the University of Arkansas's Cooperative Extension Service, spoke with Arkansas Public Media about some tips for coping when the 'happiest time' of the year feels lke anything but.


Companies selected to grow medical marijuana in Arkansas are on track to have their product ready for consumption by next April.

Representatives of the five companies approved to cultivate medicinal cannabis spoke to members of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission at a commission meeting Wednesday. Of the five companies, two say they expect to harvest their first batch of marijuana by early spring.

Mike Beebe Mike Huckabee
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News


Two former Arkansas governors will reflect on their own administrations next Monday during a discussion about healthcare. Governors Mike Huckabee and Mike Beebe will speak on health and health care during an event celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement.

The center is partnering with the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service for the event. Gov. Asa Hutchinson will welcome the governors, making this event a rare gathering of the three most recent Arkansas governors.

Betty Bumpers
Jason Masters

Betty Bumpers, a former Arkansas first lady who advocated for childhood immunizations nationwide and pushed for limiting nuclear arms proliferation, has died. She was 93.

Bumpers, long married to former Arkansas governor and four-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers, died Friday at her home in Little Rock following a recent fall and complications with dementia, according to her daughter, Brooke Bumpers.

Picture of Tobacco
Image via Public Domain Pictures

More teenagers are using e-cigarette products nationwide than in years prior, and Arkansas is no different.

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows that the use of e-cigarettes by high school students has increased by 78 percent this year. The number of users also rose. In 2011, 220, 000 students used e-cigarettes.

This year, the CDC predicts that number will reach over three million or 20.8 percent of all students.

Participants in the Race for the Cure running across the Broadway Bridge in downtown Little Rock.
Susan G. Komen Arkansas

The 25th Annual Race for the Cure takes place Saturday morning in downtown Little Rock. People will participate in a 5k run to raise money for breast cancer research and treatment.

Amy Treadway, development director of Susan G. Komen’s Arkansas affiliate, says most of the money taken in will benefit people in the state.

Colleges and universities around Arkansas are hoping for an easier flu season this year by offering vaccinations to students.

At Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, students and others streamed into a mass flu clinic at the Red Wolf Center in the middle of campus at a rate of about 100 people an hour to get their shots early in the season.

Student Steven Holmquist said he was more than willing to give up a few minutes of his time to get a shot to protect himself and others, since the flu can spread quickly on a campus.

“I think it’s important to be worried about other people’s health as well,” he said.

Ambulatory Surgery Centers are becoming an increasingly popular choice for minor medical procedures like knee surgery and tissue biopsies. Often, they're cheaper and more convenient than hospitals.

But problems at one such center in Little Rock have garnered national attention, and it's uncertain whether it's indicative of a larger issue.

On July 18, 2014, Faye Watkins got a colonoscopy; a fairly routine, elective procedure that screens for colon cancer. She went to Kanis Endoscopy Center in Little Rock, where its medical director, Dr. Alonzo Williams, performed the procedure.

But when she woke up, she wasn't at the clinic; she was down the street, at Baptist Health Medical Center. Watkins had stopped breathing almost immediately after her procedure. She was revived, but suffered a brain injury from the lack of oxygen. 

Daniel Breen / Arkansas Public Media

Among all the popular measures on the Arkansas ballot this November, none is as hydra-headed, or has forged unlikely alliances, as Issue 1.

It would give the legislature rulemaking power over the courts and put a limit on fees collected by trial lawyers in lawsuits. The most talked about element, though, is that it would cap courtroom awards for plaintiff's seeking punitive damages and compensation for pain and suffering — though it wouldn't limit awards for lost wages or hospital bills, or in cases of intentional misconduct — at $500,000.

Nationally, this kind of amendment is what is commonly referred to as "tort reform."

Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Amidst more revelations of problems tied to Arkansas’s nascent medical marijuana program, the architect of the state’s voter-approved amendment is calling for commissioners to abandon their process of scoring cultivation applications.

Attorney David Couch says the merit-based scoring system has been plagued with allegations that have rocked public confidence in the process.

Arkansas has seen a record number of flu deaths this year, 215, and the severity of the virus has taken Arkansans by surprise.

State chief epidemiologist Dr. Dirk Haselow says the health department doesn’t really know why there were more deaths this year, but one reason could be that Influenza B dominated this year, and it is more deadly that Influenza A.

Workgroups organized by AFMC are trying to combat adverse childhood experiences.
Creative Commons

A recent study published by Child Trends found that 56 percent of children in Arkansas have had at least one adverse childhood experience, or ACE, compared to the national average of 45 percent. That's the highest of any state in the nation. An ACE is defined as a "potentially traumatic event, ranging from abuse and neglect to living with an adult with a mental illness. They can have negative, lasting effects on health and well-being in childhood or later in life."