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, Neighmond won the World Hunger Award for a story about healthcare and low-income children. She 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 DC 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.

Measles is surging. Last week the U.S. recorded 90 cases, making this year's outbreak the second largest in more than two decades.

So far this year, the U.S. has confirmed 555 measles cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday. That's 50 percent higher than the total number recorded last year, even though we're only about a quarter of the way through 2019.

And the virus isn't slowing down.

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Updated at 3:45 p.m.

A study published Thursday in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology finds the percentage of U.S. teens and young adults reporting mental distress, depression and suicidal thoughts and actions has risen significantly over the past decade. While these problems also increased among adults 26 and older, the increase was not nearly as large as among younger people.

Walking your dog can be a great way to build a little exercise into your life at any age. But take care, too: The number of Americans over age 65 who have had fractures associated with walking a dog on a leash has more than doubled since 2004, according to a study published this month.

Updated Friday at 8:35 a.m. ET

Facebook announced on Thursday it is taking steps to combat the spread of anti-vaccine information across the social media platform by reducing the distribution of misleading medical advice and relying on vetting from leading global health organizations that "have publicly identified verifiable vaccine hoaxes."

Any kid with a cellphone or social media account is likely to be following one or more of thousands of social media influencers who regularly post about what they do, what they like and what they eat.

Generally, these are people in their 20s who are successful, outgoing, positive, energetic and "highly appealing" to the younger crowd, according to Anna Coates, a doctoral student at the School of Psychology at the University of Liverpool in the U.K.

All U.S. states require most parents to vaccinate their children against some preventable diseases, including measles, mumps, rubella and whooping cough, to be able to attend school. Such laws often apply to children in private schools and day care facilities as well as public schools.

For decades, the rate of cancer incidence and deaths from the disease among African-Americans in the United States far outpaced that of whites. But the most recent analysis of national data by the American Cancer Society suggests that "cancer gap" is shrinking: In recent years, death rates from four major cancers have declined more among blacks than among whites.

The report was published online Thursday in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

Doctors can and should do more to prevent depression among pregnant women and new mothers by referring them to counseling. That's the recommendation of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an influential panel of clinicians and researchers that makes recommendations for patient care.

It's the middle of the night and you wake up to the disturbing sound of your little one crying and sniffling with a cold, sore throat or fever. And, if you're like many parents, you reach into the medicine cabinet, seeking some relief.

But giving medication — and getting the dose right — can be more challenging than you might think. Jesse and Shannan Ridall live in Palmyra, Pa., with their three young children. Jesse says the lined markings on dosing devices of children's medicine can be confusing, especially when they show both teaspoons and milliliters.

Updated Thursday at 1:33 p.m. ET

Parts of the Dakotas and Minnesota dived to minus 27 F or lower this week, according to the National Weather Service. That is not just uncomfortable — that kind of cold can be dangerous and even deadly, especially if you don't take precautions regarding how long you're out and how you dress.

Health officials in Washington have declared a state of emergency and are urging immunization as they scramble to contain a measles outbreak in two counties, while the number of cases of the potentially deadly virus continues to climb in a region with lower-than-normal vaccination rates.

Want to reduce your risk of dementia in older age? Move as much as you can.

We've all heard about techniques to get us more physically active — take the stairs, park the car a bit further from your destination, get up and march in place for a minute or two when standing or sitting at a desk.

Now a study finds even simple housework like cooking or cleaning may make a difference in brain health in our 70s and 80s.

Need another reason to get the flu shot if you're pregnant?

A study out this week shows that pregnant women with the flu who are hospitalized in an intensive care unit are four times more likely to deliver babies prematurely and four and a half times more likely to have a baby of low birth weight.

It's that time of year again. You wake up with a scratchy throat, stuffy nose, a little achy — maybe a fever. Is it a classic head cold, or do you need to be more concerned? Could it be the flu?

Many American teenagers try to put in a full day of school, homework, after-school activities, sports and college prep on too little sleep. As evidence grows that chronic sleep deprivation puts teens at risk for physical and mental health problems, there is increasing pressure on school districts around the country to consider a later start time.

We know we need to exercise for our health, but a lifelong exercise habit may also help us feel younger and stay stronger well into our senior years. In fact, people in their 70s who have been exercising regularly for decades seem to have put a brake on the aging process, maintaining the heart, lung and muscle fitness of healthy people at least 30 years younger.

The marketing is enticing: Get stronger muscles and healthier bodies with minimal effort by adding protein powder to your morning shake or juice drink. Or grab a protein bar at lunch or for a quick snack. Today, you can find protein supplements everywhere — online or at the pharmacy, grocery store or health food store. They come in powders, pills and bars.

Nearly 19 million Americans take fish oil supplements and some 37 percent of us take vitamin D. Many may be motivated by research that has suggested these pills can protect heart health and prevent cancer.

Many people routinely take nutritional supplements such as vitamin D and fish oil in the hopes of staving off major killers like cancer and heart disease.

But the evidence about the possible benefits of the supplements has been mixed.

Now, long-awaited government-funded research has produced some of the clearest evidence yet about the usefulness of taking the supplements. And the results — published in two papers — are mostly disappointing.

If you're a first-time mother and you opt for epidural anesthesia during labor, your doctor may suggest you wait about an hour after your cervix is completely dilated before you start trying to push the baby down the birth canal.

But a study published Tuesday in JAMA, the flagship journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that might not be the best advice.

If you're in the hospital or a doctor's office with a painful problem, you'll likely be asked to rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10 – with 0 meaning no pain at all and 10 indicating the worst pain you can imagine. But many doctors and nurses say this rating system isn't working and they're trying a new approach.

It's been clear for many years that vitamin D helps keep bones strong, but studies have been inconclusive and conflicting about the vitamin's value in protecting against certain cancers, including colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, most frequently diagnosed among adults over 65. To catch those typically slow-growing malignancies early, when they can often be cured, most doctors' groups recommend colorectal cancer screening starting at age 50.

But the American Cancer Society this week changed its advice and is recommending that screening start five years earlier.

Though Americans spend an estimated $80 billion to $100 billion each year in hopes of easing their aching backs, the evidence is mounting that many pricey standard treatments — including surgery and spinal injections — are often ineffective and can even worsen and prolong the problem.

Research has shown that sharp reductions in the amount of food consumed can help fish, rats and monkeys live longer. But there have been very few studies in humans.

Now, some researchers have found that when people severely cut calories, they can slow their metabolism and possibly the aging process.

Eventually it happens to everyone. As we age, even if we're healthy, the heart becomes less flexible, more stiff and just isn't as efficient in processing oxygen as it used to be. In most people the first signs show up in the 50s or early 60s. And among people who don't exercise, the underlying changes can start even sooner.

After Virginia Harrod was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2014, she had a double mastectomy. Surgeons also removed 16 lymph nodes from under her armpit and the area around her breast, to see how far the cancer had spread and to determine what further treatment might be needed. Then she underwent radiation therapy.

Marian Smith somehow missed getting a flu shot this year, which is unlike her — in the past, she always got one.

The 58-year-old Washington D.C. resident says it was easier to remember to get it when the vaccine was provided at a clinic at work. But now the clinic is a bus ride away, and getting the shot wasn't at the top of her mind.

"Of course, I could get it right here at the grocery store," Smith tells NPR, as she rushes to pick up her lunch. "But I just didn't get it — I don't know, I can't tell you why."

Kids who vape and use other forms of e-cigarettes are likely to try more harmful tobacco products like regular cigarettes, but e-cigarettes do hold some promise for helping adults quit.

That's according to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, which published a comprehensive public health review of more than 800 studies on e-cigarettes on Tuesday.

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