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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3:41am

Mon April 21, 2014
Shots - Health News

For The Children's Sake, Put Down That Smartphone

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 9:43 am

Katherine Streeter for NPR

It's not just kids who are overdoing screen time. Parents are often just as guilty of spending too much time checking smartphones and e-mail — and the consequences for their children can be troubling.

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3:22am

Mon April 7, 2014
Shots - Health News

Chemo Can Make Food Taste Like Metal. Here's Help

Originally published on Mon April 7, 2014 9:08 am

Scott Peterson/One Bite at a Time/Celestial Arts

Cancer patients often lose their appetite because chemotherapy can cause nausea. But it does something else to make food unappetizing – it changes the way things taste.

Hollye Jacobs was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, at the age of 39. As a nurse she expected the extreme nausea that often accompanies powerful chemo therapy drugs. But as a patient, she wasn't expecting the taste changes.

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4:22pm

Mon March 10, 2014
Children's Health

Casinos, Sites Of Excess, Might Actually Help Families Slim Down

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 7:59 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

When you think about casinos, you probably think about excess: smoke-filled rooms, too much alcohol, and endless buffets filled with piles of high-fat and high sugar foods.

But as NPR's Patti Neighmond reports, a new study suggests casinos may actually have a health benefit for children who live in nearby communities.

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2:57am

Mon March 10, 2014
Shots - Health News

Of Cigs And Selfies: Teens Imitate Risky Behavior Shared Online

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 9:59 am

High school students whose friends posted photos of drinking and smoking were about 20 percent more likely to become drinkers or smokers themselves.
iStockphoto

Teenagers put a lot of stock in what their peers are doing, and parents are forever trying to push back against that influence. But with the advent of social media, hanging out with the wrong crowd can include not just classmates, but teenagers thousands of miles away on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.

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11:46am

Thu March 6, 2014
Shots - Health News

Teens Who Try E-Cigarettes Are More Likely To Try Tobacco, Too

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 2:01 pm

They're both legal. Either, both or none?
iStockphoto

While electronic cigarettes may be marketed as alternatives that will keep teenagers away from tobacco, a study suggests that may not be the case.

Trying e-cigarettes increased the odds that a teenager would also try tobacco cigarettes and become regular smokers, the study found. Those who said they had ever used an e-cigarette were six times more likely to try tobacco than ones who had never tried the e-cig.

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3:32am

Mon March 3, 2014
Shots - Health News

Marijuana May Hurt The Developing Teen Brain

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 8:42 pm

The teenager's brain has a lot of developing to do: It must transform from the brain of a child into the brain of an adult. Some researchers worry how marijuana might affect that crucial process.

"Actually, in childhood our brain is larger," says Krista Lisdahl, director of the brain imaging and neuropsychology lab at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. "Then, during the teenage years, our brain is getting rid of those connections that weren't really used, and it prunes back.

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4:40pm

Wed February 19, 2014
Shots - Health News

Parents And Teens Aren't Up To Speed On HPV Risks, Doctors Say

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 2:17 pm

You would think that a vaccine that could prevent cancer would be an easy sell, but that's hasn't proven to be true so far with the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.

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3:26am

Mon February 10, 2014
The Salt

It Takes More Than A Produce Aisle To Refresh A Food Desert

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 6:56 pm

Euclid Market, a corner store in East Los Angeles, recently got a makeover to promote healthier eating. It not only sells more fruits and vegetables, but also offers cooking classes and nutrition education.
Courtesy of Margaret Molloy/UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

In inner cities and poor rural areas across the country, public health advocates have been working hard to turn around food deserts — neighborhoods where fresh produce is scarce, and greasy fast food abounds. In many cases, they're converting dingy, cramped corner markets into lighter, brighter venues that offer fresh fruits and vegetables.

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3:27am

Mon February 3, 2014
Shots - Health News

Most Teens Aren't Active Enough, And It's Not Always Their Fault

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 7:43 am

The CDC would be happy with these guys, who were playing in Birmingham, Ala., in July 2013. Teenage boys say basketball is their favorite activity.
Mark Almond AL.COM /Landov

Sure, you think, my kid's on a football team. That takes care of his exercise needs, right? Probably not.

"There are these bursts of activity," says Jim Sallis, a professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego. "But if you think about it, one hour of playing football out on the field means that the vast majority of that time is spent standing around waiting for the next play."

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5:15am

Tue January 21, 2014
Shots - Health News

Diabetes, Cost Of Care Top Health Concerns For U.S. Latinos

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 12:57 pm

A customer buys produce at the Euclid Market in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles in December. The market was reopened in 2013 as part of a project to promote healthy eating among the city's Hispanic population.
Courtesy of UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Latino immigrants in the U.S. say the quality and affordability of health care is better in the U.S. than in the countries they came from, according to the latest survey by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. But many report having health care problems.

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3:09am

Mon January 13, 2014
Shots - Health News

Pain In The Back? Exercise May Help You Learn Not To Feel It

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 4:56 pm

Janet Wertheimer does a back hyperextension exercise at Boston Sports Club in Wellesley, Mass. Regular exercise has helped control her chronic back pain.
Ellen Webber for NPR

More than 1 in 4 adult Americans say they've recently suffered a bout of low-back pain. It's one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor. And more and more people are being treated for it.

America spends more than $80 billion a year on back pain treatments. But many specialists say less treatment is usually more effective.

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2:45am

Mon December 16, 2013
Shots - Health News

Healthful Habits Can Help Induce Sleep Without The Pills

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 3:23 pm

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

About one-third of American adults say they have problems falling asleep. And prescriptions for sleeping medications are on the rise, with about 4 percent of people using the drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But sleep specialists say people should exercise caution before deciding to take medication to help them sleep.

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3:14am

Thu December 5, 2013
Shots - Health News

Teens Who Feel Supported At Home And School Sleep Better

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 6:31 am

Solid friendships can help buffer life's stress.
iStockphoto

A teen's relationship — or lack of good relationship — with parents, pals or teachers may have a lot to do with why most kids aren't getting the nine to 10 hours of sleep that doctors recommend. The hormonal disruptions of puberty likely also play a role.

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2:53am

Mon December 2, 2013
Shots - Health News

School Stress Takes A Toll On Health, Teens And Parents Say

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 5:35 pm

Colleen Frainey, 16, of Tualatin, Ore., cut back on advanced placement classes in her junior year because the stress was making her physically ill.
Toni Greaves for NPR

When high school junior Nora Huynh got her report card, she was devastated to see that she didn't get a perfect 4.0.

Nora "had a total meltdown, cried for hours," her mother, Jennie Huynh of Alameda, Calif., says. "I couldn't believe her reaction."

Nora is doing college-level work, her mother says, but many of her friends are taking enough advanced classes to boost their grade-point averages above 4.0. "It breaks my heart to see her upset when she's doing so awesome and going above and beyond."

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3:19am

Mon October 14, 2013
Shots - Health News

Exercise May Help Knees More Than Glucosamine And Chondroitin

Originally published on Mon October 14, 2013 9:18 am

With osteoarthritis, knees become swollen and stiff, and cartilage can degenerate.
Ted Kinsman Science Source

If you're among the estimated 27 million Americans who suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee or hip, then perhaps you've tried the nutritional supplements glucosamine and chondroitin. They've been marketed for joint health for about 20 years, and sales are still brisk. But do they help?

Some horses might say yes. The supplements were first tried in horses, and there's some evidence that the supplements might improve joint function for them.

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3:35am

Mon September 30, 2013
The Salt

Kombucha: Magical Health Elixir Or Just Funky Tea?

Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 12:34 pm

Kombucha made by artisan tea brewer Bill Bond in Akron, Ohio, comes in an array of flavors, such as lemongrass, ginger, blueberry and watermelon.
Peggy Turbett The Plain Dealer /Landov

Chances are, you've seen it in your local grocery store. Maybe you've even mustered the courage to taste it — or at least take a whiff.

Once mostly a product of health food stores and hippies' kitchens, kombucha tea is now commercially available in many major grocery stores.

And people aren't necessarily scooping it up for its flavor. Its taste has been described as somewhere between vinegar soda and carbonated apple cider.

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3:22am

Mon September 16, 2013
Shots - Health News

Calling Obesity A Disease May Make It Easier To Get Help

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 9:04 am

Differences in brain chemistry can affect an individual's likelihood of weight gain.
Katherine Streeter for NPR

Under the Affordable Care Act, more insurance plans are expected to start covering the cost of obesity treatments, including counseling on diet and exercise as well as medications and surgery. These are treatments that most insurance companies don't cover now.

The move is a response to the increasing number of health advocates and medical groups that say obesity should be classified as a disease.

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3:45am

Mon August 26, 2013
Shots - Health News

Sweet Cigarillos And Cigars Lure Youths To Tobacco, Critics Say

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 2:56 pm

Candy-flavored cigars like these in a shop in Albany, N.Y., are the focus of efforts to restrict sales of sweet-flavored tobacco.
Hans Pennink Associated Press

The good news: Cigarette sales are down by about a third over the past decade. Not so for little cigars and cigarillos. Their sales more than doubled over the same time period, in large part owing to the growing popularity of these little cigars among teenagers and 20-somethings.

The appeal among young people has lots to do with the large variety of candylike flavors in the little cigars, according to Jennifer Cantrell, director of research and evaluation at the anti-tobacco Legacy Foundation.

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3:25am

Mon August 5, 2013
Shots - Health News

When Treating Abnormal Breast Cells, Sometimes Less Is More

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 11:39 am

Sally O'Neill decided to have a double mastectomy rather than "do a wait-and-see."
Richard Knox NPR

When Sally O'Neill's doctor told her she had an early form of cancer in one of her breasts, she didn't agonize about what she wanted to.

The 42-year-old mother of two young girls wanted a double mastectomy.

"I decided at that moment that I wanted them both taken off," says O'Neill, who lives in a suburb of Boston. "There wasn't a real lot of thought process to it. I always thought, 'If this happens to me, this is what I'm going to do.' Because I'm not taking any chances. I want the best possible outcome. I don't want to do a wait-and-see."

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2:59am

Mon July 29, 2013
Shots - Health News

How To Find A Path Off The Dreaded Diet Plateau

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 12:12 pm

Illustration by Tim Robinson for NPR

Chances are that if you've ever lost weight following a strict diet and exercise regimen, you've also reached the diet plateau. On that lonely plateau, pounds never seem to melt away, no matter how hard you try to shed them.

You're not alone. Consider the plight of Susan Carierre. When the 5-foot-6-inch Carriere hit 230 pounds, she decided to enroll in a weight-loss program at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center near her home in Baton Rouge, La.

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3:00am

Mon July 15, 2013
Shots - Health News

Patients Seek A Different Approach To Hip Replacement Surgery

Originally published on Mon July 15, 2013 5:10 am

Michael Pagliaro, left, laughs with Paul Scattaretico at the Muzic Store Inc. in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., as Pagliaro picks up instruments for his rental business. Before Pagliaro had a hip replacement, pain made it difficult to work.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Every year more than a quarter of a million Americans have total hip replacement surgery. It's almost always a successful operation that frees patients from what's often described as disabling pain.

But in recent years, there's been lots of discussion on the Internet about "anterior approach" hip replacement, a surgical technique that's different than the standard procedure. It's one that proponents say can lead to quicker recovery, three to four weeks compared to six to eight weeks for typical surgery.

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4:52am

Wed July 3, 2013
Health

Deadly Painkiller Overdoses Affecting More Women

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 5:59 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And let's look now at some disturbing health news. At study out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows women are dying from overdoses of prescription painkillers at a much higher rate than men. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: Men still die from these overdoses at a higher rate than women. Women are dying from the overdoses at a much higher rate than ever before.]

Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of women overdosing. NPR's Patti Neighmond reports.

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2:58am

Mon June 24, 2013
Shots - Health News

Depression May Increase The Risk Of Dementia Later On

Originally published on Mon June 24, 2013 11:54 am

Depression is common among old people, affecting up to 25 percent.
iStockphoto.com

Depression can have physical consequences. Research now suggests that when people get depressed in middle age and beyond, they're more likely to develop dementia in old age.

But the link between depression and dementia remains something of a mystery. Researchers are working to understand why that occurs and what might be done to prevent dementia.

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2:56am

Mon June 10, 2013
Shots - Health News

African-Americans Remain Hardest Hit By Medical Bills

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 8:37 am

Mike Jackson has diabetes and high blood pressure. His eye was damaged after he cut back on insulin because he couldn't afford it.
Bryan Terry for NPR

For many years, high medical bills have been a leading cause of financial distress and bankruptcy in America. That pressure may be easing ever so slightly, according to a survey released earlier this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But 1 in 5 Americans still face hardships due to medical costs — and African-Americans continue to be the hardest hit.

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3:30am

Mon May 27, 2013
Shots - Health News

Overweight People Are More Apt To Ditch Doctors

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 8:08 am

Going to the doctor may be uncomfortable for people who are worried about weight.
iStockphoto.com

Patients struggling with obesity can have a tough time finding the right doctor, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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3:26am

Mon April 29, 2013
Shots - Health News

How To Turn Down The Heat On Fiery Family Arguments

Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 10:54 am

Parents can minimize the negative impact of their arguments on their children using a few simple techniques to calm down.
iStockphoto.com

All parents are bound to disagree, argue or even raise their voices with each other.

But psychologists say parents can minimize the negative impact of their arguments on their children. It's just a matter of using a few simple techniques to turn down the heat and repair the damage after it's over.

Psychologist Suzanne Phillips at Long Island University says one of the most important things for parents to remember when they're on the verge of a big argument is not to involve the child.

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3:04am

Mon April 15, 2013
Shots - Health News

How Exercise And Other Activities Beat Back Dementia

Originally published on Tue April 16, 2013 8:45 am

An older man performs exercises in Mumbai, India. Research suggests that moderate physical exercise may be the best way to keep our brains healthy as we age.
Rajesh Kumar Singh AP

The numbers are pretty grim: More than half of all 85-year-olds suffer some form of dementia.

But here's the good news: Brain researchers say there are ways to boost brain power and stave off problems in memory and thinking.

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3:20am

Mon April 1, 2013
Shots - Health News

Study Hints Vitamin D Might Help Curb High Blood Pressure

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 8:50 am

Reducing dietary salt and alcohol, exercising, not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight are other lifestyle tweaks known to help prevent or reduce high blood pressure, doctors say.
David McNew Getty Images

We've heard many claims in the past decade — and much debate — about the role of vitamin D in the prevention and treatment of conditions as varied as brittle bones, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and dementia.

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5:35pm

Wed March 13, 2013
Shots - Health News

Postpartum Depression Affects 1 In 7 Mothers

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 2:09 pm

A JAMA Psychiatry study found that 1 in 7 mothers are affected by postpartum depression.
iStockphoto.com

It's well documented that some women suffer depression after having a baby. But it's less well-known just how many do.

The largest study to date shows that as many as 1 in every 7 women suffers postpartum depression. And the study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, finds that among women followed for a year after delivery, some 22 percent had been depressed.

The study also recommends that all pregnant women and new mothers be screened for depression.

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3:25am

Mon March 4, 2013
The Salt

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

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 5:14 pm

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

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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