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
5:21 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

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

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

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

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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Shots - Health News
3:31 am
Mon October 6, 2014

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

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

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

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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Shots - Health News
3:30 am
Mon September 22, 2014

Best To Not Sweat The Small Stuff, Because It Could Kill You

Keith Negley for NPR

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 8:21 am

Chronic stress is hazardous to health and can lead to early death from heart disease, cancer and of other health problems. But it turns out it doesn't matter whether the stress comes from major events in life or from minor problems. Both can be deadly.

And it may be that it's not the stress from major life events like divorce, illness and job loss trickled down to everyday life that gets you; it's how you react to the smaller, everyday stress.

The most stressed-out people have the highest risk of premature death, according to one study that followed 1,293 men for years.

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Shots - Health News
3:22 am
Mon September 8, 2014

Cheap Drinks And Risk-Taking Fuel College Drinking Culture

Rob Donnelly for NPR

Originally published on Mon September 8, 2014 10:06 am

There's no question that alcohol is a factor in the majority of sexual assaults on campus. And alcohol is abundant and very present at most colleges today.

In fact, federal health officials say more than 80 percent of college students drink. And about half say they binge drink. This means more than four drinks for women and more than five drinks for men, within a two-hour time frame.

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Shots - Health News
3:28 am
Mon August 11, 2014

A Coping Plan Can Help Fend Off Depression From Vision Loss

One of the scariest parts of advanced macular degeneration can be losing the ability to read facial expressions.
Maria Pavlova iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon August 11, 2014 2:56 pm

When people lose their vision as they get older, they lose a lot of other things, too. They lose their ability to do the things they love.

"You can't read, you can't cook, and you can't socialize — and as a result, you may become demoralized, withdrawn and depressed," says Dr. Barry Rovner, a geriatric psychiatrist at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

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Shots - Health News
3:17 am
Mon August 4, 2014

What Makes Us Fat: Is It Eating Too Much Or Moving Too Little?

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 11:35 am

We're constantly hearing messages that we're eating too much and not moving around enough. Now researchers suggest that we're actually not eating more than we did 20 years ago, it's that we're much less active. And that includes not just middle-aged workers tied to their desks, but also young men and women who spend their days sitting in front of their laptops.

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Shots - Health News
5:00 am
Mon July 28, 2014

People Who Feel They Have A Purpose In Life Live Longer

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 7:37 pm

We know that happiness and social connection can have positive benefits on health. Now research suggests that having a sense of purpose or direction in life may also be beneficial.

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Shots - Health News
4:43 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

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 4:47 pm

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
3:28 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 10:32 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
3:18 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 1:14 pm

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
9:33 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
3:44 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 2:35 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
3:24 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 5:00 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
3:36 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 5:41 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
3:41 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 12:29 pm

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
3:22 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 9:08 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
4:22 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

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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Shots - Health News
2:57 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 9:59 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
11:46 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 2:01 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
3:32 am
Mon March 3, 2014

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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Shots - Health News
4:52 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 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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The Salt
3:26 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 6:56 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
3:27 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 7:43 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
5:15 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 12:57 pm

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
3:09 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 4:56 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
2:45 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 3:23 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
3:14 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 6:31 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
2:53 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 5:35 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
3:27 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 7:03 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
3:19 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 9:18 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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