Sarah Fentem

Sarah Fentem reports on sickness and health as part of St. Louis Public Radio’s news team. She previously spent five years reporting for different NPR stations in Indiana, immersing herself deep, deep into an insurance policy beat from which she may never fully recover. A longitme NPR listener, she grew up hearing WQUB in Quincy, Illinois, which is now owned by STLPR. She lives in the Kingshighway Hills neighborhood, and in her spare time likes to watch old sitcoms, meticulously clean and organize her home and go on outdoor adventures with her fiancé Elliot. She has a cat, Lil Rock, and a dog, Ginger.

Lawyers from Planned Parenthood and the state of Missouri will face off Monday in a hearing that could decide the fate of the state’s last clinic providing abortions.

A member of the Administrative Hearing Commission, a nonpartisan state tribunal that resolves regulatory disputes, will decide if the state broke the law when it denied the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic its license earlier this year.

If Commissioner Sreenivasa Rao Dandamudi rules against the clinic, Missouri could become the first state without an abortion provider since the landmark Roe. v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which legalized abortions in the U.S.

For years, doctors have used an expensive brain scan to detect symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. 

But researchers at Washington University have found that a simple blood test could be similarly effective, according to a study published this month in the journal Neurology. A blood test to diagnose early symptoms could help make finding a cure easy or cheaper and even guide treatment for the disease in the future, the study’s authors say. 

Abortion rights advocates are concerned the legal dispute over the last existing abortion clinic in Missouri may have already hindered access to abortion.

The license for Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region has been in jeopardy for months as state officials delayed action on its application. To compel the state to act, Planned Parenthood took state officials to court.

Circuit Court Judge Michael Stelzer has kept the license in effect while the arguments play out in court. But abortion rights advocates say the legal process as well as Missouri’s increasingly stringent abortion regulations could discourage doctors from providing the procedure in the future.

African-Americans have lower levels of a key protein associated with Alzheimer's disease, which could keep blacks with the disease from being diagnosed, according to Washington University researchers.

In a 12-year study of 1,255 participants, the researchers found black patients have a much lower baseline level of the protein tau, which is present in higher amounts in patients with the neurodegenerative disease. Because doctors look for the protein when diagnosing Alzheimer's, lower levels in black patients mean they may not be diagnosed as quickly as their white counterparts.

As a result, black patients — already disproportionately affected by the disease — may not receive proper care, the study's authors said.

Biologists at the University of Missouri have found that a chemical commonly used in consumer plastics could affect how a body reacts to and regulates blood sugar.

Bisphenol A — or BPA — is a plastic additive found in bottles, the resin lining of food cans and thermal receipt paper. An experiment by Mizzou researchers exposed a small group of people to the chemical. After the exposure, the researchers measured subjects’ insulin levels, and found people exposed to the BPA had produced more insulin.