Patti Neighmond

Award-winning journalist Patti Neighmond is NPR's health policy correspondent. Her reports air regularly on NPR newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition.

Based in Los Angeles, Neighmond has covered health care policy since April 1987. She joined NPR's staff in 1981, covering local New York City news as well as the United Nations. In 1984, she became a producer for NPR's science unit and specialized in science and environmental issues.

Neighmond has earned a broad array of awards for her reporting. In 1993, she received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for coverage of health reform. That same year she received the Robert F. Kennedy Award for a story on a young quadriplegic who convinced Georgia officials that she could live at home less expensively and more happily than in a nursing home. In 1990 she won the World Hunger Award for a story about healthcare and low-income children. Neighmond received two awards in 1989: a George Polk Award for her powerful ten-part series on AIDS patient Archie Harrison, who was taking the anti-viral drug AZT; and a Major Armstrong Award for her series on the Canadian health care system. The Population Institute, based in Washington, DC, has presented its radio documentary award to Neighmond twice: in 1988 for "Family Planning in India" and in 1984 for her coverage of overpopulation in Mexico. Her 1987 report "AIDS and Doctors" won the National Press Club Award for Consumer Journalism, and her two-part series on the aquaculture industry earned the 1986 American Association for the Advancement of Science Award.

Neighmond began her career in journalism in 1978, at the Pacifica Foundation's Washington D.C. bureau, where she covered Capitol Hill and the White House. She began freelance reporting for NPR from New York City in 1980. Neighmond earned her bachelor's degree in English and drama from the University of Maryland, and now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

A full decade after the Food and Drug Administration approved a vaccine to fight the sexually transmitted, cancer-causing human papillomavirus, almost half of all adolescents have still not received their first dose. This low vaccination rate is dramatic when compared to other routine childhood immunizations like polio and measles, mumps and rubella, where compliance is above 90 percent.

Every year when Morton Pollner had his checkup, he worried that doctors would find something on his lung. For years, they didn't. Then his luck ran out.

"My reaction was, 'Well, you smoked for 30 years. You got away with it for another 30 years and this is it.' I thought it was a death sentence," he says.

Peanut allergies can be among a parent's biggest worries, though we've had good evidence for more than a year that when most babies are 6 months old or so, introducing foods that contain finely ground peanuts can actually reduce babies' chances of becoming allergic to the legumes. Even so, many parents are scared to do that.

There are rating systems for hospitals, nursing homes and doctors. So why is it so hard to compare providers of child care?

Part of the reason is that there are no nationally agreed-upon standards for what determines the quality of child care. The standards that do exist are formulated in each state, and they vary widely.

For example, some states require that child care workers have a teaching certificate. Others require certain college courses. Some have strict ratios of how many caregivers are required per child.

Most parents have experienced sticker shock when they find out just how much it will cost to care for their infant or toddler full- or even part-time. For parents who have little choice, this can be a big financial strain.

In fact, the most common challenge parents face when looking for child care is the high cost. That's the finding of a recent poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Back in 2002, California passed a law that provides paid family leave benefits to eligible workers. In many ways, the law mimicked paid parental leave policies that are in effect in nearly every other country in the world.

It really hit Terry White eight years ago when he was at the mall with his wife. He was out of breath every few minutes and had to sit down. "My wife told me I had to get to the gym and lose weight," he says.

He had dieted most of his life. "I've probably lost 1,000 pounds over the years," says White, a realtor in North Myrtle Beach, N.C. But he put most of it back on.

Stress has long been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and a number of mental health problems.

A majority of Americans say they're stressed at work. And it's clear the burden of stress has negative effects on health, including an increase in heart disease, liver disease and gastrointestinal problems.

Tracy Solomon Clark is outgoing and energetic — a former fundraiser for big companies and big causes. As she charged through her 40s she had "no clue," she says, that there might be a problem with her heart.

It was about six years ago — when she was 44 — that she first suffered severe shortness of breath, along with dizziness. She figured she was overweight and overworked, but never considered heart disease.

"That was the furthest thing from my mind," Solomon Clark says. "I was young!"

Hoping to keep your mental edge as you get older? Look after your heart, a recent analysis suggests, and your brain will benefit, too.

A research team led by Hannah Gardener, an epidemiologist at the University of Miami, analyzed a subset of data from the Northern Manhattan Study, a large, ongoing study of risk factors for stroke among whites, blacks and Hispanics living in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City.

Over the past decade, states have passed laws intended to help women understand the results of their breast cancer screening mammograms if they have dense breasts. But those notifications can be downright confusing and may, in fact, cause more misunderstanding than understanding.

When parents suffer depression, there can be a ripple effect on children. Kids may become anxious, even sad. There may be behavior problems. Health may suffer.

Recently, a large Swedish study showed that grades may decline, too, when a parent is depressed.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK, just look around your workplace. You probably see lots of them - standing desks. But as NPR's Patti Neighmond reports, a new study finds that health benefits of these desks are not really proven.

Though the majority of Americans have a primary care doctor, a large number also seek treatment at urgent care centers, statistics show. For many people, the centers have become a bridge between the primary care doctor's office and the hospital emergency room.

As men age, they lose testosterone — which some say affects their sense of well-being and sexual function. But for healthy older men, using supplemental testosterone as a remedy has been controversial. Past studies of the supplement's use have been relatively small, and the evidence about benefits and risks has been mixed.

At 46 years old, Oliver Bogler's reaction to a suspicious lump in his chest might seem typical for a man. He ignored it for three to four months, maybe longer. "I couldn't really imagine I would have this disease," Bogler says. But when he finally "grew up" and went to the doctor, he was pretty quickly diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.

When Cathy Fields was in her late 50s, she noticed she was having trouble following conversations with friends.

"I could sense something was wrong with me," she says. "I couldn't focus. I could not follow."

Fields was worried she had suffered a stroke or was showing signs of early dementia. Instead she found out she had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

Losing your ability to think and remember is pretty scary. We know the risk of dementia increases with age. But if you have memory lapses, you probably needn't worry. There are pretty clear differences between signs of dementia and age-related memory loss.

After age 50, it's quite common to have trouble remembering the names of people, places and things quickly, says Dr. Kirk Daffner, chief of the division of cognitive and behavioral neurology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Women who have an abnormal mammogram should stay vigilant for cancer for for the next decade, even when follow-up tests fail to detect cancer, a study released Wednesday finds.

That's because there's a "modest" risk that cancer will develop during the next decade, says lead author Louise M. Henderson of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill.

As we launch into Thanksgiving week, consider this: Research shows that feeling grateful doesn't just make you feel good. It also helps — literally helps — the heart.

To get the most accurate measurement of the body's temperature, a rectal thermometer works best, a study finds. Less invasive methods to measure body heat on the outside of the skin such as on the forehead or under the arms just aren't as precise.

Contraceptive implants and IUDs are very effective in preventing pregnancy — nearly 100 percent, statistics show. A new federal survey finds many more women are making this choice than did a decade ago.

For Linnea Duvall, a marriage and family therapist who lives and works in Santa Monica, Calif., the symptoms of menopause started when she turned 50. She felt more irritable and a smidge heavier, and she started waking up two to three times a night.

And then she had a hot flash.

"It felt like a nuclear bomb went off right behind my belly button," she says. "The radiation went out to my fingertips, the tops of my toes, the top of my head and the ends of my hair."

Surgery to reduce the stomach's size is often seen as a last resort for severely obese teenagers, partly because there has been little information on the procedure's long-term effects on young people.

But a study published online Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine tracked teens for three years and suggests that bariatric surgery as part of a weight-reduction plan was not only safe, but increased their heart health and the quality of their lives.

Stephanie Nichols is a stay-at-home mom in Boston. She's 44 now and says she first thought about getting a mammogram when she turned 40.

"I had heard from a number of friends all around the same age that they're all getting mammograms," she says. So it came as no surprise when her doctor brought up the topic at her next routine exam.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The heart beats rhythmically, and so does a metronome.

So it makes sense that a metronome, typically used by musicians to help keep a steady beat, could help medical professionals restart a heart.

What do you see in your community that helps you be heart healthy, and what gets in your way? People who live in the "stroke belt," an area in the Southeast with high rates of heart disease and stroke, can show you.

"The idea was to have community residents take photos of their individual take on the topic of barriers to heart health," says Sarah Kowitt, a study author and graduate student in public health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

On any given day, about half a million children are living in foster care. They've been removed from violent or abusive households; many suffer physical and mental health problems that have gone untreated.

Their need is acute but the response is often dangerously slow, according to a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The recommendations, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, are intended as a wake-up call for pediatricians who care for foster kids.

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