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.

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The Salt
2:25 am
Mon March 4, 2013

Selling Kids On Veggies When Rules Like 'Clean Your Plate' Fail

Good advice, but strict rules at mealtime may backfire.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 4:14 pm

If you're a parent, you've probably heard remarks like this during dinner: "I don't like milk! My toast is burnt! I hate vegetables! I took a bite already! What's for dessert?" It can be daunting trying to ensure a healthy diet for our children. So it's no wonder parents often resort to dinner time rules.

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Shots - Health News
2:38 am
Mon February 11, 2013

How Parents Can Learn To Tame A Testy Teenager

Brad McDonald and his 14-year-old daughter, Madalyn, are working to understand each other during her teenage years.
Courtesy of Brad McDonald

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 10:41 am

If you're the parent of a teenager, this may sound familiar: "Leave me alone! Get out of my face!" Maybe you've had a door slammed on you. And maybe you feel like all of your interactions are arguments.

Kim Abraham, a therapist in private practice in Michigan, specializes in helping teens and parents cope with anger. She also contributes regularly to the online newsletter Empowering Parents. Abraham says, for starters, don't take it personally.

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Shots - Health News
5:53 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

Schedule Of Childhood Vaccines Declared Safe

Some parents have worried that kids get too many vaccinations too quickly. A review of all the available research suggests those concerns are misplaced.
Dmitry Naumov iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 6:16 am

Childhood vaccines for diseases like measles, polio and whooping cough have repeatedly been proved safe and effective. Even so, some parents still worry that the schedule of vaccinations — 24 immunizations by the age of 2 — can be dangerous. That worry is likely misplaced, according to a yearlong review of all available scientific data.

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Shots - Health News
10:56 am
Tue January 15, 2013

Pictures May Speak Louder Than Words When It Comes To Smoking

A cigarette warning label image approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Food and Drug Administration

Researchers have found that graphic anti-smoking images may be more powerful than words alone in warning people from different income and racial groups about the dangers of smoking.

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Shots - Health News
2:37 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Why Exercise May Do A Teenage Mind Good

Members of the boys basketball team from Dimond High School in Anchorage, Alaska, celebrate their 2012 state championship victory. Psychological research shows that sports camaraderie improves teenagers' mental health.
Charles Pulliam AP

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 7:02 am

It's well known that routine physical activity benefits both body and mind. And there are no age limits. Both children and adults can reap big benefits.

Now a study published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, explores whether certain factors may help to explain the value of daily physical activity for adolescents' mental health.

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Shots - Health News
2:25 am
Fri December 28, 2012

Another Side Effect Of Chemotherapy: 'Chemo Brain'

Dr. Jame Abraham used positron emission tomography, or PET, scans to understand differences in brain metabolism before and after chemotherapy.
Dr. Jame Abraham

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 11:00 am

It's well-known that chemotherapy often comes with side effects like fatigue, hair loss and extreme nausea. What's less well-known is how the cancer treatment affects crucial brain functions, like speech and cognition.

For Yolanda Hunter, a 41-year-old hospice nurse, mother of three and breast cancer patient, these cognitive side effects of chemotherapy were hard to miss.

"I could think of words I wanted to say," Hunter says. "I knew what I wanted to say. ... There was a disconnect from my brain to my mouth."

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Shots - Health News
2:20 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Like Girls, Boys Are Entering Puberty Earlier

According to a study published in Pediatrics, boys are entering puberty six months to two years earlier than they did in past studies.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 10:23 am

It's been known for a while that girls start puberty earlier than they did in the past, sometimes as young as 7 or 8. But it's been unclear whether boys also go through puberty earlier. Now, a study from the American Academy of Pediatrics helps answer that question.

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Shots - Health News
2:32 am
Thu December 6, 2012

Why It's Easier To Scam The Elderly

Fraud victims are more likely to have opened official-looking sweepstakes notices and other mailings. A new study says the elderly are more susceptible than the young to being swindled.
Allen Breed AP

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 3:23 pm

Lots of scams come by phone or by mail, but when the scam artist is right in front of you, researchers say the clues are in the face.

"A smile that is in the mouth but doesn't go up to the eyes, an averted gaze, a backward lean" are some of the ways deception may present itself, says Shelley Taylor, a psychologist at UCLA.

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Shots - Health News
2:21 am
Mon December 3, 2012

Text Messages Help Smokers Kick The Habit

In the U.K.-based program called Txt2stop, researchers sent smokers encouraging text messages, like the one above, to help them quit.
Karen Castillo Farfán NPR

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 10:21 am

Some good news about texting: A review of studies published by the Cochrane Collaboration finds that smokers trying to quit the habit are helped in a big way by supportive messages sent via text.

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Shots - Health News
2:26 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Can You Move It And Work It On A Treadmill Desk?

Employees at at Salo, a Minneapolis-based financial consulting firm, walk while working on treadmill desks. The firm offers treadmill desks for employee use and encourages an active workplace environment.
Salo LLC

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 9:38 am

As we've reported, there's a backlash brewing to sedentary office life as more people realize how sitting all day can do a body wrong.

I work at home and often sit in front of my computer doing research and writing. So I thought I'd give a treadmill desk a try.

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Shots - Health News
4:07 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Recurring Lyme Disease Rash Caused By Reinfection, Not Relapse

Lyme disease is spread by deer ticks like this one. A study finds that some people can be reinfected many times with the bacteria that cause the disease.
Lauree Feldman Getty Creative Images

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 4:30 pm

In recent years, a disease spread by ticks has become more common across the country.

Lyme disease causes a skin rash, and in some cases, more serious symptoms. The rash usually goes away with antibiotics, but some people say they have other symptoms that persist for months or years.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:28 am
Mon October 15, 2012

Doctors Strike Mutating Bacteria In Teen Acne Battle

A tiny bacteriophage virus can cripple the bacteria that cause troublesome acne on teens' skin.
Charles Bowman University of Pittsburgh

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 6:59 am

Acne, the scourge of many an adolescent life, is getting harder to treat, but 80 percent of teenagers have some form of it.

Conventional treatment includes topical and oral antibiotics. Studies are now finding the bacteria that cause acne are increasingly resistant to antibiotic treatment. Alternatively, there are effective laser treatments. But these are costly and typically not covered by insurance.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:06 am
Mon October 8, 2012

When Should Seniors Hang Up The Car Keys?

More elderly drivers will hit the road in the next decade, but family members wonder: When is it time for elderly loved ones to move to the passenger seat?
Martin Novak iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon October 8, 2012 3:35 am

With a growing population of baby boomers, officials are bracing for a surge in senior drivers. Statistics tell us that accidents increase after the age of 65, and fatal accidents are more likely after the age of 75.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:22 am
Mon September 24, 2012

Two New Drugs May Help In Fight Against Obesity

Doctors may recommend that obese patients use weight-loss drugs to trick their hunger pangs.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue September 25, 2012 10:59 am

The Food and Drug Administration approved two new medications this year to help obese and overweight individuals lose weight.

Diet drugs have been around in different forms for a while, but now researchers hope one of these two might actually help make a dent in the obesity epidemic.

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The Salt
2:29 am
Mon September 10, 2012

Low And Slow May Be The Way To Go When It Comes To Dieting

Eating low-glycemic foods, or foods that take longer to digest, may help you feel fuller for a longer period of time.
Robyn Mackenzie iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 3:09 pm

If you're dieting, you know you've got to count calories, carbs and fats. But if you really want to take off the weight and keep it off, you might want to pay more attention to the glycemic index, which is essentially a measure of how quickly foods are digested.

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Shots - Health Blog
9:14 am
Fri September 7, 2012

X-Ray Tests May Heighten Cancer Risk In Susceptible Women

Mammograms may pose a particular risk to women with genetic mutations that predispose them to breast cancer.
Bill Branson National Cancer Institute

Originally published on Fri September 7, 2012 11:53 am

Researchers report that women with genetic mutations that put them at dramatically increased risk of developing breast cancer may also face a heightened risk from radiation used during medical screening and diagnosis.

The imaging tools that help doctors identify disease, injury or damage to the body have long been known to carry some risk of cancer, in large part because ionizing radiation can damage the genetic material in the body.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:24 am
Mon August 27, 2012

Sleepless Nights May Put The Aging Brain At Risk Of Dementia

If you're having trouble sleeping, researchers say you should resist the urge to keep checking the time.
mrsmuckers iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon August 27, 2012 9:55 am

As we age, our sleep patterns change. We've all heard the complaints: "I wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep!"

Some sleep experts estimate that as many as 40 percent of older adults suffer sleeping problems such as sleep apnea and insomnia. Now, researchers have found a link between disrupted sleep and cognitive decline.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:29 am
Mon August 13, 2012

Too Much Calcium Could Cause Kidney, Heart Problems, Researchers Say

Federal health officials recommend 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day for people younger than 50, but some are overdoing it.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon August 13, 2012 8:08 am

When it comes to a healthy diet — especially for women, and especially after menopause — nutritionists, doctors, everybody it seems, will tell you: calcium, calcium, calcium.

Federal health officials recommend that women and men younger than 50 consume 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. The recommendation goes up to 1,200 milligrams after age 70 for men and after menopause for women, when a major drop in estrogen causes bone loss.

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Health
3:56 am
Mon July 30, 2012

Cheer Up, It's Just Your Child Behind The Wheel

When it comes to learning how to drive, your teen is probably as harried as you are. Research shows that scare tactics meant to instill caution, though, are less effective than kind words.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon July 30, 2012 2:41 pm

One rite of passage most teenagers look forward to and parents dread is learning how to drive. Car crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens by far, on the order of five times more than poisoning or cancer. Does that mean you should scare the daylights out of teens to encourage safe driving? Traditional driver education classes tend to do exactly that, with gruesome videos and photos of fatalities and smashed-up cars.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:25 am
Mon July 16, 2012

Is HIV Still A Death Sentence? Young People Weigh In

Young activists distribute condoms at an AIDS awareness event in Ashbury Park, N.J.
Charles Sykes AP

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 7:11 am

Think of this like a snapshot — a few perspectives of HIV-negative 20-somethings.

To start, we posted the following query on NPR's Facebook page:

"Thirty years ago, a positive HIV status was considered a death sentence. As treatments for the disease have advanced over the past three decades, we're wondering how younger people view the disease today."

Hundreds of people e-mailed and commented with their reactions. We also gathered reactions from young folks we met on the street.

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Shots - Health Blog
1:57 am
Mon June 25, 2012

Many Migraines Can Be Prevented With Treatments, But Few Use Them

A promising crop of new migraine treatments could alleviate the suffering of millions of Americans.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue June 26, 2012 10:36 am

Millions of Americans suffer from migraine headaches so severe they miss work, social gatherings and important family events.

But that doesn't have to be the case, according to Charles Flippen, a University of California, Los Angeles, neurologist and researcher. "Everyone says, 'Oh, well, everyone has headaches,' so they just push through and suffer in silence," says Flippen.

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The Salt
2:03 am
Mon June 18, 2012

Is The Coconut Water Craze All It's Cracked Up To Be?

John Gordon Gauld, a 35-year old artist, bikes with coconut water in New York City.
Jacob Anderson

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 11:48 am

You've probably seen them in the grocery store — cans of coconut water with their come-hither photos of young, green coconuts, tops sheared off, a straw poking out, and blue and green boxes that evoke cool, tropical breezes. Some vendors even sell the real thing. Artist John Gordon Gauld enjoys fresh coconut water when he's thirsty after biking through New York City.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:31 am
Mon June 11, 2012

To Sniff Out Childhood Allergies, Researchers Head To The Farm

Contact with animals and dirty environments may be one reason farm kids are less likely to get allergies, researchers say.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 10:11 am

Allergies are on the rise these days, especially in children. Nearly half of all kids are now allergic to something, be it food, animals, or plants. Federal health officials say that rate is two to five times higher than it was 30 years ago.

And as researchers are trying to understand why, they're increasingly looking at kids who grow up on farms.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:48 am
Fri May 25, 2012

Need A Nurse? You May Have To Wait

Some fear that with rising medical costs and an aging population, the country's nursing staff will be stretched too thin.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 9:15 pm

Nurses are the backbone of the hospital — just ask pretty much any doctor or patient. But a new poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health finds 34 percent of patients hospitalized for at least one night in the past year said "nurses weren't available when needed or didn't respond quickly to requests for help."

Since nurses provide most of the patient care in hospitals, we were surprised at the findings. We wanted to find out more. We wanted to know what was going on from nurses themselves. So we put a call-out on Facebook.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:27 am
Mon May 14, 2012

Doctors' Due Diligence: Measuring Kids' Blood Pressure

Doctors often overlook taking a child's blood pressure during routine visits.
Sean Locke iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon May 14, 2012 7:37 am

There have been hints that the obesity epidemic's rise has slowed a bit among certain populations, but for the most part, it continues to dominate American health. One third of children and teenagers are now overweight or obese. And researchers forecast as many as half of our nation's population could be obese — not overweight but obese — by 2030.

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Shots - Health Blog
6:57 am
Mon April 23, 2012

Swaddling and Shushing Help Soothe Babies After Vaccinations

I could use some shushing and swaddling right about now.
iStockphoto.com

Imagine you're a happy baby, off with your folks to visit the doctor.

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