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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5:02am

Thu July 16, 2015
Shots - Health News

Why We Play Sports: Winning Motivates, But Can Backfire, Too

Originally published on Fri July 17, 2015 5:08 pm

Lorenzo Gritti for NPR

Playing sports has always been important to 31-year-old Erik Johanson, a city planner in Philadelphia. Johanson thrived in baseball and ice hockey as a kid, he says — "one of the best players on the team in high school."

Today, Johanson is married and expecting his first child but is still passionate about ice hockey — and about winning. He plays on a highly competitive team of guys who got together after college and still play weekly in an adult league; they hope to take the crown this year.

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5:24am

Mon July 13, 2015
Shots - Health News

Engineering A Shingles Vaccine That Doesn't Wimp Out Over Time

Originally published on Tue July 14, 2015 5:32 pm

The varicella zoster virus causes chickenpox in children, then lurks in the body for years and can cause painful shingles later in life.
James Cavallini Science Source

If you had chickenpox as a child, then you're at risk for shingles. As you age, the risk increases, probably because the immune system weakens over time.

The varicella zoster virus can hide in the body over a lifetime and suddenly activate, causing a painful, blistery rash. Even when the rash disappears, pain can linger and worsen, causing a burning, shooting, stabbing pain so severe it can leave people unable to sleep, work or carry on other activities.

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4:18am

Thu July 9, 2015
Shots - Health News

Some Antidepressants May Pose Increased Risk Of Birth Defects

Originally published on Thu July 9, 2015 2:09 pm

Solid information on the risks of medications during pregnancy is often hard to come by.
iStockphoto

Some antidepressants may increase the risk of birth defects if taken early in pregnancy, while others don't seem to pose the same risks, a study finds.

The question of whether antidepressants can cause birth defects has been debated for years, and studies have been all over the map. That makes it hard for women and their doctors to make decisions on managing depression during pregnancy.

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5:07am

Wed July 1, 2015
Shots - Health News

Benefits Of Sports To A Child's Mind And Heart All Part Of The Game

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 5:24 pm

Ten-year-old Jake Herrera and his Los Angeles team run around the diamond as a warmup for baseball practice.
Benjamin B. Morris for NPR

Amy Roegler and her husband, Octavio Herrera, live with their young kids, Jake and Alyssa, in Los Angeles. When it comes to pro baseball, they're all Dodgers fans. And Jake loved balls even as a baby, Octavio says.

"We have a picture of him as a 3-month-old with a little Dodger jersey and a glove," Octavio says. "So he was definitely going to be introduced to sports early, and he took to it right away." Today 10-year-old Jake is on his baseball league's All-Star team.

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3:28am

Mon June 29, 2015
Shots - Health News

Vaccine Against Meningitis B Gets A Boost From CDC

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 12:22 pm

Stuart Kinlough Getty Images/Ikon Images

Parents, take note! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's vaccine committee has expanded its recommendation for immunization against meningitis B, a rare but potentially deadly strain of meningitis.

The committee's revised guidance, issued late last week, broadens the group of young people that the CDC thinks should consider getting the shot, and increases the likelihood that health insurance policies will pay for the injection.

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5:02am

Tue June 23, 2015
Shots - Health News

Take A Hike To Do Your Heart And Spirit Good

Originally published on Wed June 24, 2015 3:33 pm

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Fryman Canyon is one of those special places in the city of Los Angeles — a bit of country and canyon nestled just off the crest of Mulholland Drive, with gorgeous views of the valley and mountains.

It's favored by the canine set — my two dogs love it here — and on any given morning I'm sure to run into fellow canyon lovers, like Stacy Maes and her energetic weimaraner, Astrid.

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4:59am

Mon June 22, 2015
Shots - Health News

To Ease Pain, Reach For Your Playlist

Originally published on Tue June 23, 2015 11:40 am

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

We all know that listening to music can soothe emotional pain, but Taylor Swift, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys can also ease physical pain, according to a study of children and teenagers who had major surgery.

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3:32am

Thu May 14, 2015
Shots - Health News

Long-Term Depression May Boost Stroke Risk Long After Mood Improves

Originally published on Thu May 14, 2015 9:51 am

Medical researchers have known for several years that there is some sort of link between long-term depression and an increased risk of stroke. But now scientists are finding that even after such depression eases, the risk of stroke can remain high.

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3:23am

Mon May 11, 2015
Shots - Health News

For Headaches, A Lifestyle Change May Be Better Than A Doctor Visit

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 5:07 pm

Keith Negley for NPR

Terri Bradford has suffered debilitating headaches all her life. Some days the pain is so bad, she says, "By 11 o'clock in the morning, I'm on the couch in a darkened room with my head packed in ice."

Over the years, Bradford, who is 50 years old and lives in Bedford, Mass., has searched desperately for pain relief. She's been to the doctor countless times for countless tests. "Everything I've had, I've had twice," she says. "I've had two spinal taps; I've had so many nerve blocks I've lost count."

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10:55am

Fri May 1, 2015
Shots - Health News

Walking 2 Minutes An Hour Boosts Health, But It's No Panacea

Originally published on Mon May 4, 2015 8:19 am

Skopein Ikon Images/Getty Images

We know that sitting all day is hazardous to our health, increasing the risk of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, inflammation and atherosclerosis. It all sounds pretty dismal, since many of today's jobs require us to be nearly glued to our computer screens. But a tiny two-minute break may help offset that hazard, researchers say.

People who got up and moved around for at least two minutes every hour had a 33 percent lower risk of dying, according to researchers the University Of Utah School Of Medicine.

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3:48am

Mon April 20, 2015
Shots - Health News

Mellow Pastimes Can Be Good For Your Health, Too

Originally published on Mon April 20, 2015 10:11 am

Painting
iStockphoto

This makes total sense: When you're engaged in an activity you truly enjoy, you're happy. And, when you're happy you're not dwelling on all the negative things in life, nor are you stressed about obligations or problems. Certainly this is a good thing from an emotional point of view, but it also has physical benefits.

We know exercise reduces stress, but it turns out that more simple stationary things, like doing puzzles, painting or sewing can help, too.

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3:27am

Mon April 13, 2015
Shots - Health News

The Hidden Cost Of Mammograms: More Testing And Overtreatment

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 8:00 am

There's no question mammograms can save lives by detecting breast cancer early. But they can also result in unnecessary testing and treatment that can be alarming and costly.

In fact, each year the U.S. spends $4 billion on follow-up tests and treatments that result from inaccurate mammograms, scientists report in the current issue of Health Affairs.

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3:40am

Mon March 30, 2015
Shots - Health News

Sure, Use A Treadmill Desk — But You Still Need To Exercise

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 5:31 pm

NPR senior Washington editor Beth Donovan walks on a treadmill desk in her office in Washington, D.C.
Meredith Rizzo/NPR

First off, I need to be upfront: I have a treadmill desk. I got it about two years ago, prompted by all the studies showing the dangers of sitting all day. The idea is to get people more active and walking while working. The problem is, I don't use it. In fact, I probably only used it for a few months. I still stand all day, but I'm not walking.

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3:51pm

Tue March 17, 2015
Shots - Health News

Workplace Suicide Rates Rise Sharply

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 8:30 am

Suicide rates in the U.S. have gone up considerably in recent years, claiming an average of 36,000 lives annually.

Most people take their lives in or near home. But suicide on the job is also increasing and, according to federal researchers, suicide risk changes depending on the type of work people do.

Researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health analyzed census data and compared suicide rates among different occupations.

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3:37am

Tue March 3, 2015
Shots - Health News

Improving Housing Can Pay Dividends In Better Health

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 5:20 pm

Uzuri Pease-Greene, right, leads a walk through the public housing complex in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco where her family lives. She is working to have the old buildings replaced.
Talia Herman for NPR

Faiza Ayesh giggles with delight as she describes her brand-new two-bedroom apartment in Oakland, Calif. She shares her home with her husband and three little girls, ages 3, 2 and 5 months. Ayesh, 30, says she just loves being a stay-at-home mom. "It's the best job in the world."

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4:06am

Mon March 2, 2015
Shots - Health News

People With Low Incomes Say They Pay A Price In Poor Health

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 7:39 am

Hanna Barczyk for NPR

When you ask people what impacts health you'll get a lot of different answers: Access to good health care and preventative services, personal behavior, exposure to germs or pollution and stress. But if you dig a little deeper you'll find a clear dividing line, and it boils down to one word: money.

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5:34am

Sat February 7, 2015
Shots - Health News

To Get Parents To Vaccinate Their Kids, Don't Ask. Just Tell

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 1:56 pm

Gary Waters Getty Images/Ikon Images

As California's measles outbreak continues to spread beyond state borders, many doctors nationwide are grappling with how best to convince parents to have their children vaccinated. Inviting a collaborative conversation doesn't work all that well, many are finding. Recent research suggests that being more matter-of-fact can work a lot better.

Pediatrician Eric Ball, who practices in southern California, says, in his experience, the families skeptical of vaccines can be divided into two types.

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5:41pm

Wed February 4, 2015
Shots - Health News

Pediatricians Pressured To Drop Parents Who Won't Vaccinate

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 8:15 am

Dr. Eric Ball examines a healthy 5-day-old patient in his office in Ladera Ranch, Calif. Ball and colleagues decided this week to take only patients whose parents follow the recommended vaccine schedule.
Courtesy of Eric Ball

Dr. Bob Sears, a pediatrician in Capistrano Beach, Calif., says that he strongly believes in the protective power of vaccines to save lives. But he's also well-known in Southern California as a doctor who won't pressure parents who refuse to vaccinate their children, or who refuse some vaccines, or who want to stray from the recommended schedule of vaccinations.

"They all come to me because, I guess, I'm more respectful of their decisions, more willing to listen to them," Sears says, "[and to] discuss pros and cons and acknowledge that there are some side effects to vaccines."

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4:59am

Thu January 22, 2015
Around the Nation

Measles Outbreak At Disneyland Spreads To Other States

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 1:49 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

3:33am

Mon January 19, 2015
Shots - Health News

When Bariatric Surgery's Benefits Wane, This Procedure Can Help

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 7:37 am

For most of her life Fran Friedman struggled with compulsive eating. At 59 years old she was 5 foot 2 and weighed 360 pounds. That's when she opted for bariatric surgery.

The surgery worked. Friedman, who is now 70 and lives in Los Angeles, lost 175 pounds. "It was a miracle," Friedman says, not to feel hungry. "It was the first time in my life that I've ever lost a lot of weight and was able to maintain it."

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10:33am

Wed January 14, 2015
Shots - Health News

Working Longer Hours Can Mean Drinking More

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 12:21 pm

It's been a long day. Time to unwind.
iStockphoto

People who try to reduce the stress of a long work day with a drink or two, or three, may be causing more health problems for themselves.

Around the world, people working long hours are more likely to drink too much, according to a study that analyzed data from 61 studies involving 333,693 people in 14 countries.

They found that people who worked more than 48 hours a week were 13 percent more likely to engage in risky drinking than people working 35 to 40 hours a week.

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3:58am

Tue December 30, 2014
Shots - Health News

Traffic Stops Persuade People To Avoid Drinking And Driving

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 10:55 am

Police officers check drivers at a sobriety checkpoint in Escondido, Calif.
Lenny Ignelzi AP

It's a big concern during the holiday season — drunken drivers on the roads and highways. Every year, 10,000 people are killed in crashes in the United States involving a driver under the influence. Now researchers say there are steps communities can take to decrease the number of drivers who are drunk.

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3:24am

Mon December 15, 2014
Shots - Health News

To Stop Teen Drinking Parties, Fine The Parents

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 3:18 pm

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

When it comes to teenage drinking, the typical venue is a party — where some teens play drinking games and binge. It may surprise you to learn that the majority of parents are aware that alcohol is flowing at these events.

On any given weekend, some teenagers receive three to four text messages about parties, says Bettina Friese, a public health researcher at the Prevention Research Center in Oakland, Calif.

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11:20am

Mon December 8, 2014
Shots - Health News

Doctors Are Slow To Adopt Changes In Breast Cancer Treatment

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 4:58 pm

New evidence on the effectiveness of medical treatments can take a long time to influence medical practice.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Cancer doctors want the best, most effective treatment for their patients. But it turns out many aren't paying attention to evidence that older women with early stage breast cancer may be enduring the pain, fatigue and cost of radiation treatment although it doesn't increase life expectancy.

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3:24am

Wed December 3, 2014
Shots - Health News

CDC Considers Counseling Males Of All Ages On Circumcision

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 8:18 am

Draft federal recommendations don't usually raise eyebrows, but this one certainly will — that males of all ages, including teenage boys, should be counseled on the health benefits of circumcision.

In the past 15 years, studies in Africa have found that circumcision lowers men's risk of being infected with HIV during heterosexual intercourse by 50 to 60 percent. Being circumcised also reduces men's risk of infection with the herpes virus and human papillomavirus.

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3:41am

Mon November 17, 2014
Shots - Health News

The Power Of Suggestion Could Trigger Asthma — Or Treat It

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 4:41 pm

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Lots of things can trigger an asthma attack, but one of the most common causes is odor — anything from the heavy scent of perfume to a household cleaner.

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5:37pm

Thu November 6, 2014
Shots - Health News

Flu Season Brings Stronger Vaccines And Revised Advice

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 6:33 pm

Which flu vaccine should you get? That may depend on your age and your general health.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

The symptoms of the flu are familiar: fever, chills, cough, congestion, feeling very, very tired. If you're a healthy adult under 65, you'll most likely recover in a week or two.

But for those older than 65, things can get worse fast, says Dr. H. Keipp Talbot, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University.

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4:36am

Mon October 27, 2014
Shots - Health News

Corneal Implants Might Make Reading Glasses Obsolete

Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 9:03 am

A corneal inlay next to a contact lens.
Courtesy of John Vukich

For Lori Bandt, who works as a medical technician and an EMT in a suburb of Madison, Wis., the print on vials of medication has become so difficult to read that if she forgets her reading glasses she has to resort to having a younger EMT worker read the directions. The 45-year-old says: "I'm just stuck."

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5:50pm

Thu October 16, 2014
Shots - Health News

Women Can Freeze Their Eggs For The Future, But At A Cost

Originally published on Thu October 16, 2014 6:35 pm

A doctor uses a microscrope to view a human egg during in vitro fertilization (IVF), which is used to fertilize eggs that have been frozen.
Mauro Fermariello ScienceSource

Until recently, freezing a woman's eggs was reserved mainly for young women facing infertility as a result of cancer treatments like chemotherapy.

But recent advances in technology have made freezing eggs easier and more successful, and likely have a lot to do with the recent decisions by Facebook and Apple to offer female employees a health benefit worth up to $20,000 to freeze their eggs.

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3:31am

Mon October 6, 2014
Shots - Health News

Social Media, The New Weapon In The Battle To Lose Weight

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 2:25 pm

Photos from Liz Paul's blog entries on Prior Fat Girl. The blog chronicles women's weight loss journeys.
Courtesy of Liz Paul/PriorFatGirl.com

On a recent Sunday night, Liz Paul was tired. She'd worked in the morning, spent a full day with her family and she did not feel like going out for her daily jog.

"I tweeted out, 'Well, it's 9 p.m. on Sunday and I didn't work out,' " she says, "I really shouldn't go run in the dark should I?"

The response was immediate. The network of people Paul is relying on to help in her battle to lose weight chimed in with advice. Some tweeted back, "Yes, get out and run." Others offered alternatives like a video workout. But everyone said, "Do something!"

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