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. In order to boost HPV vaccination, doctors should be more assertive when bringing up the topic with...

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. Pollner, who lives in Monroe, N.Y., was 76 when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Like many patients his age, he didn't expect there would be any effective treatment. Lung cancer is the...

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. At this week's annual scientific meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in San Francisco, doctors are discussing the coming federal guidelines...

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. The poll surveyed a nationally representative...

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. But it was the first its kind in the U.S., and several other states have since followed suit . Here's how California's law, part of of the state's disability insurance program, works: Most workers in the state have small deductions (less than one percent of their wages)...

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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. By age 59, he knew he was headed for disaster; he weighed 387 pounds at just 5 foot 6. With encouragement from a friend, he...

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Stress has long been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and a number of mental health problems. And a recent poll finds that a substantial number of working adults say stress is a critical health issue they face at work. The poll was conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. So what are employers doing about it? Fifty-one percent of the people in our poll said their workplace has a formal wellness or...

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. Still, though it's been known for years that periodically disengaging from one's everyday routine can reduce stress , most Americans don't take advantage of their days off. A recent poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health...

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!" But it...

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. The scientists wanted to see how people in their 60s and 70s...

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. A study published Tuesday in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, finds the wording of some notifications so complex that only a Ph.D. could understand them. This lack of simple, direct...

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. Using data from 1984 to 1994, researchers from Philadelphia's Dornsife School of Public Health, at Drexel University, measured school grades for more than 1.1 million children in Sweden and compared them with their parents' mental health...

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. PATTI NEIGHMOND, BYLINE: It seems logical that standing up would be better than sitting down. After all, we know that sitting all day increases the risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes. But...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. PATTI NEIGHMOND, BYLINE: And I'm Patti Neighmond in Los Angeles. One of the best things you can do to prevent tooth decay is brush your teeth well and floss every day. But choosing a toothpaste can be overwhelming. LARRY KOZEK: Toothpaste, look at that. NEIGHMOND: I'm standing in a local pharmacy with my dentist Dr. Larry Kozek. We're looking at rows and rows of toothpaste. KOZEK: I remember when toothpaste used to be toothpaste....

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. Urgent care is not meant for life-threatening emergencies, such as a heart attack, stroke or major trauma, doctors say. But it is designed to treat problems considered serious enough to be seen that day — conditions like a cut finger, a...

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. Now a well-designed study published online Wednesday, in the New England Journal of Medicine, confirms certain benefits in sexual function and mood for some men...

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. Now what's interesting here is that Bogler is a cancer biologist who regularly works with cancer cells, as senior vice president of academic affairs at...

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. Fields is now 66 years old and lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. She's a former secretary and mother of two grown children....

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. The...

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. The absolute increase in risk amounts to about 1 additional cancer in every 100 women who have a false positive mammogram...

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. A positive mental attitude is good for your heart. It fends off depression, stress and anxiety, which can increase the risk of heart disease, says Paul Mills, a professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. Mills specializes in disease processes...

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. Now does this mean everyone should rush out and restock their medicine cabinet with rectal thermometers? Probably not, says Dr. Daniel Niven , an intensive care physician with the Peter Lougheed Center in Calgary, who headed a review of the...

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. Federal researchers analyzed data from a national health survey that included birth control practices among women of childbearing age. The survey found that while use of the pill, condoms and female sterilization all dipped between 2002 and 2013, the number of women using long-acting...

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." But Duvall would not consider...

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. Dr. Thomas Inge , a...

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. But what was surprising, she says, was that, after discussing family history and personal health, her doctor determined that because Nichols was not at high risk...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: Today in Your Health, a cancer drug could help people with Parkinson's disease. But first, flu season is around the corner, and federal health officials say it's time for everyone six months and older to get vaccinated. As NPR's Patti Neighmond reports, this year's flu vaccine is expected to be more effective than last year's. PATTI NEIGHMOND, BYLINE: For scientists, every year presents a new challenge to...

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 we know for sure," says pediatric cardiologist Dianne Atkins , a spokeswoman with the American Heart Association , is that "high-quality CPR improves survival." So anything that improves CPR could save lives. For CPR to be effective , the rescuer kneels at the side of the person in distress,...

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