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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Shots - Health News
2:47 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

High-Performing Charter Schools May Improve Students' Health

Researchers are just starting to look at how school choice affects health.
romester/iStockphoto

Many people are intensely interested in how publicly funded charter schools affect children, and that includes not just their academic achievement but their health.

Researchers from UCLA and the Rand Corp. wanted to know whether attending a high-performing charter school reduced the rates of risky health behaviors among low-income minority teenagers.

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Shots - Health News
1:28 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Want More Stress In Your Life? Try Parenting A Teenager

Amy Myers talks with her son Kamron, 18, in the backyard of their home in Boise, Idaho. She has found raising a teenager to be extremely stressful.
Kyle Green for NPR

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 8:32 am

If anyone can handle the stress of parenting in the teen years, you'd think it would be a high school teacher.

That's how Amy Myers felt. She teaches high school English in a suburb of Boise, Idaho, where she says she has "pseudo parented" about 3,000 teenagers "who I have talked to, given advice to, guided, directed, even lectured about teenage issues," she says.

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Shots - Health News
1:18 am
Mon July 7, 2014

For Many Americans, Stress Takes A Toll On Health And Family

Leif Parsons for NPR

Originally published on Mon July 7, 2014 11:14 am

Stress is part of the human condition, unavoidable and even necessary to a degree. But too much stress can be toxic — even disabling.

And there's a lot of toxic stress out there.

A national poll done by NPR with our partners at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health finds that more than 1 in every 4 Americans say they had a great deal of stress in the previous month.

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Shots - Health News
7:33 am
Mon June 9, 2014

More And More, Young Women Are Being Diagnosed With ADHD

The stress of adult life can make living with undiagnosed ADHD very difficult, doctors say.
Jing Wei for NPR

As a child, Diany Levy was called lazy and unfocused. She remembers that teachers called home on a daily basis to tell her parents she was not paying attention in class. Now, at the age of 23, Diany has finally been diagnosed with the cause of her problems – ADHD.

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Shots - Health News
1:44 am
Mon May 26, 2014

Anxious Parents Can Learn How To Reduce Anxiety In Their Kids

Noah Cummings, 13, starts the morning with his mom, Heather Cummings, at home in Epsom, N.H.
Ellen Webber for NPR

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 12:35 pm

Children are increasingly anxious, stressed out and overly worried. Part of that has to do with increased pressures to excel in school, sports and extracurricular activities. But part of it has a lot to do with parents.

Like other mental and physical health problems, anxiety can be inherited. And some children are more vulnerable because of the way their anxious parents "parent."

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Shots - Health News
1:24 am
Mon May 12, 2014

That Prescription Might Not Have Been Tested For Your Ailment

Leif Parsons for NPR

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 3:00 pm

It's actually quite common for doctors to write "off label" prescriptions, including using cancer drugs to treat migraine headaches or blood pressure medication for heart failure.

One study found that 1 in 5 prescriptions written in doctor's offices has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat the condition it is being used for. And while some off-label drugs are used with no problems, others may not work or may increase a patient's risk of complications.

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Shots - Health News
1:36 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Test First Before Going For Those Testosterone Supplements

Testosterone levels in men can go up and down throughout the day.
Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 3:41 pm

If you're a man and you're concerned about low levels of testosterone, doctors say there are a key steps to take before you go with testosterone supplementation.

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Shots - Health News
1:41 am
Mon April 21, 2014

For The Children's Sake, Put Down That Smartphone

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 10:29 am

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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Shots - Health News
1:22 am
Mon April 7, 2014

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

Scott Peterson/One Bite at a Time/Celestial Arts

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

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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Children's Health
2:22 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

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

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 5:59 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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Shots - Health News
12:57 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Of Cigs And Selfies: Teens Imitate Risky Behavior Shared Online

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

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

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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Shots - Health News
9:46 am
Thu March 6, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 12:01 pm

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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Shots - Health News
1:32 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Marijuana May Hurt The Developing Teen Brain

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 6:42 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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Shots - Health News
2:49 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

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

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 12:17 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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The Salt
1:26 am
Mon February 10, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 4:56 pm

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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Shots - Health News
1:27 am
Mon February 3, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 5:43 am

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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Shots - Health News
3:15 am
Tue January 21, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 10:57 am

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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Shots - Health News
1:09 am
Mon January 13, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 2:56 pm

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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Shots - Health News
12:45 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Healthful Habits Can Help Induce Sleep Without The Pills

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 1:23 pm

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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Shots - Health News
1:14 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Teens Who Feel Supported At Home And School Sleep Better

Solid friendships can help buffer life's stress.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 4:31 am

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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Shots - Health News
12:53 am
Mon December 2, 2013

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

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

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

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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Shots - Health News
1:27 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Recipe For Strong Teen Bones: Exercise, Calcium And Vitamin D

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 5:03 pm

It's really only a sliver of time when humans build the bulk of their skeleton. At age 9, the bones start a big growth spurt. And by the time puberty ends, around 14 or 15 years old, the adult-sized skeleton is all but done, about 90 percent complete.

But doctors say a lot of children aren't getting what they need to do that. Calcium and vitamin D are essential, sure, but so is lots of time jumping and running.

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Shots - Health News
1:19 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Exercise May Help Knees More Than Glucosamine And Chondroitin

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

Originally published on Mon October 14, 2013 7:18 am

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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The Salt
1:35 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Kombucha: Magical Health Elixir Or Just Funky Tea?

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

Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 10:34 am

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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Shots - Health News
1:22 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Calling Obesity A Disease May Make It Easier To Get Help

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

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 7:04 am

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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Shots - Health News
1:45 am
Mon August 26, 2013

Sweet Cigarillos And Cigars Lure Youths To Tobacco, Critics Say

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

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 12:56 pm

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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Shots - Health News
1:25 am
Mon August 5, 2013

When Treating Abnormal Breast Cells, Sometimes Less Is More

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

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 9:39 am

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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Shots - Health News
12:59 am
Mon July 29, 2013

How To Find A Path Off The Dreaded Diet Plateau

Illustration by Tim Robinson for NPR

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 10:12 am

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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Shots - Health News
1:00 am
Mon July 15, 2013

Patients Seek A Different Approach To Hip Replacement Surgery

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

Originally published on Mon July 15, 2013 3:10 am

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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Health
3:29 am
Wed July 3, 2013

Deadly Painkiller Overdoses Affecting More Women

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 3:59 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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