Stories by Kristen Thometz

Solar Eclipse Chicago: 12 Watch Parties on Aug. 21

A total solar eclipse, which is when the Moon completely covers the Sun, will occur across 14 states in the continental U.S. on Aug 21, 2017. (Credit: NASA)

You don’t need to trek all the way to southern Illinois to revel in the solar event of the century. Here are 12 places in and around Chicago where you can celebrate the eclipse.

Study: Cost, Severity of Opioid Overdose Admissions to ICU Rising

For years, critical care doctors have noticed an increase in patients suffering from opioid overdoses. A new study confirms their observations and details the staggering cost of treatment.

Media Depictions of Pregnancy, Post-Baby Bodies ‘Unrealistic,’ Studies Find

“A lot of women said it sets an unrealistic standard when they see Beyoncé in a magazine and she looks fantastic,” said researcher Toni Liechty. “If those are the images you’re seeing, you think that it’s common.”

Illinois Eliminates Statutes of Limitations on Child Sex Abuse Crimes

(Meagan Davis / Wikimedia Commons)

“This law sends a message to survivors of felony child sex crimes that it is not too late to come forward,” said Polly Poskin, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, in a statement.

Chicago Entrepreneurs Shine Light on Preventing Elderly Falls

(Luna Lights, Inc.)

Falls are the leading cause of injury in older adults. How one local company is trying to prevent them from occurring, while allowing older adults to maintain their independence.

Illinois Expands Organ Donor Registry to Teens

Under a new law, Illinois residents as young as 16 years old can sign up to become organ and tissue donors when they receive their driver’s license or state ID cards. 

Budget Impasse Hit Women, Children Hardest, Report Says

“The impact it had on people will likely last for far more than two years, and not just from the past two years but also going into the future,” said Mitch Lifson, one of the report’s co-authors.

Report: Despite Progress, Illinois Can Improve Cancer-Fighting Policies

While Illinois was lauded in a new report for its smoke-free laws and rules on indoor tanning devices, the state is “exceptionally” far behind on comprehensive tobacco-control programs, according to a national cancer advocacy organization.

Chicago Leads Nation in Reducing Racial Disparity in Breast Cancer Deaths

(Giuseppe Milo / Flickr)

For black women in Chicago, a breast cancer diagnosis in 2003 meant you were 68 percent more likely to die from the disease than a white woman. A new study shows that gap is closing.

Broccoli, Kale Could Slow Cognitive Decline, Study Finds

Your mother was right to tell you to eat your broccoli. Eating nutrient-rich foods like broccoli, spinach and kale could slow age-related cognitive decline, according to a new study.

Red Cross Facing ‘Critical’ Blood Shortage

American Red Cross collections staff member Cherrelle Simon collects a blood donation from Clint Kraft.  (Amanda Romney / American Red Cross)

“Blood donations are being distributed to hospitals as fast as donations are coming in, which could lead to delays in patient care,” said Laurie Nehring of the American Red Cross. “We are doing everything we can to prevent that from happening.” 

Pest Spotted in the WTTW Garden

We’re not the only ones enjoying the tomatoes. The Organic Gardener Jeanne Nolan shares her advice on how to rid our garden of a cute – yet pesky chipmunk.

Study Links Changes in Kids’ Sleep, Cortisol to Community Violence

“Both sleep and cortisol are connected to the ability to learn and perform academic tasks,” said researcher Jennifer Heissel. “Our study identifies a pathway by which violent crime may get under the skin to affect academic performance.”

‘Chemo Brain,’ Fatigue Reduced by Physical Activity, Study Finds

“The message for cancer patients and survivors is: get active,” said researcher Diane Ehlers. “It’s not a magic cure-all, but we’ve seen many benefits of physical activity for cancer patients and survivors.”

‘To The Bone’ Risks Serving as ‘How-to Manual’ for Anorexia, Says Psychologist

(Gilles Mingasson / Netflix)

With 20 million American women and 10 million men expected to suffer from an eating disorder sometime in their lives, some are concerned the film could serve as a blueprint.

Judge to Rule July 28 on Cook County Soda Tax

A Cook County judge will rule on the controversial penny-per-ounce sugar-sweetened beverage tax next week.

Study Details Possible Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Treatment

With one in 10 women reporting drinking during pregnancy and no cure for the disorder, researchers are hopeful two treatments that reversed memory and learning deficits in rats can do the same in humans.

AG Madigan Issues Guidelines for Responding to Sexual Assault Crimes

Medical professionals learn how to use the Sexual Assault Evidence Collection kit, which has several packets to collect evidence from a suspect and a patient of a sexual assault case. (Sgt. Rebecca Linder / Wikimedia Commons)

Law enforcement agencies have a new set of guidelines for responding to reports of sexual assault and sexual abuse.

City Seeking Input on Ways to Improve Youth Health, Well-Being

The public is invited to weigh in on public health policy ideas at a series of upcoming town hall meetings. Get dates, locations and more details.

Study: Antibiotic Use by Mothers Tied to Higher Risk of Disease in Newborns

Up to 40 percent of women take antibiotics late in their pregnancies or while nursing. A new study rethinks the common practice of prescribing such drugs when they aren’t warranted.

Study Links Purpose in Life with Better Sleep in Older Adults

Older adults who say their lives have meaning are more likely to get a good night’s sleep and less likely to suffer from sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, according to a new study.

Rapid Sepsis Test in Development

University of Illinois researchers and physicians at Carle Foundation Hospital developed a rapid test for sepsis that counts white blood cells and certain protein markers that surge when a person’s immune response increases. (Credit: Janet Sinn-Hanlon)

Sepsis affects more than 1 million hospital patients each year in the U.S., but detecting it can take days. Now, scientists at the University of Illinois are developing a rapid test to detect the potentially deadly condition.

In 1958, Pabst and Chicago Defender Held ‘Cadillac of Beauty Contests’

Miss Wonderful 1958 contestants (Courtesy of Ernestine Terry)

In the late 1950s, the Chicago Defender and Pabst Brewing Company sponsored the Miss Wonderful 1958, an all African-American beauty contest. Meet Ernestine Terry, who was one of the contestants.

Pediatric Trauma Physician Resigns to ‘Refill Tank’

Dr. Catherine Humikowski

Dr. Catherine Humikowski described her job at Comer Children’s Hospital as “perfect.” But dealing with trauma—and her own near-death experience in 2013—prompted her to take a break.

Soda Tax, Changes to Child Support Start July 1

While it remains to be seen whether legislators will pass a budget by July 1, here are five local and state laws that go into effect on that date.