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, Neighmond won the World Hunger Award for a story about healthcare and low-income children. She 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 DC 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.

Eating a handful of almonds, walnuts, peanuts or any type of nut on a regular basis may help prevent excessive weight gain and even lower the risk of obesity, new research suggests.

It may be that substituting healthy nuts for unhealthy snacks is a simple strategy to ward off the gradual weight gain that often accompanies aging, according to the researchers. Nuts also help us feel full longer, which might offset cravings for junk food.

For people who live with chronic pain, getting up, out and moving can seem daunting. Some fear that physical activity will make their pain worse. But in fact, researchers find the opposite is true: The right kind of exercise can help reduce pain.

Today, Emma Dehne agrees. Dehne is 44, lives in Chapel Hill, N.C., and works as a business officer in the office of the executive vice chancellor at the University of North Carolina. She says her commitment to exercise is relatively recent.

Good news for the cheery: A Boston study published this month suggests people who tend to be optimistic are likelier than others to live to be 85 years old or more.

The pathway to opioid abuse for women often starts with a prescription from the doctor's office. One reason is that women are more likely than men to seek help for pain.

Pain researchers say that not only do women suffer more painful conditions, they actually perceive pain more intensely than men do.

Most children enrolled in Medicaid who get a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder don't get timely or appropriate treatment afterward. That's the conclusion of a report published Thursday by a federal watchdog agency, the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General.

When we smear on sunscreen, dermatologist Kanade Shinkai with the University of California, San Francisco says, most of us don't think about it getting under our skin.

"I think there was an assumption that these are things that we apply to our skin — they don't really get into our bloodstream," Shinkai says.

Telehealth turned Jill Hill's life around.

The 63-year-old lives on the edge of rural Grass Valley, an old mining town in the Sierra Nevada foothills of northern California. She was devastated after her husband Dennis passed away in the fall of 2014 after a long series of medical and financial setbacks.

"I was grief-stricken and my self-esteem was down," Hill remembers. "I didn't care about myself. I didn't brush my hair. I was isolated. I just kind of locked myself in the bedroom."

Jeannine, who is 37 and lives in Burbank, Calif., has endured widespread pain since she was 8. She has been examined by dozens of doctors, but none of their X-rays, MRIs or other tests have turned up any evidence of physical injury or damage.

Polling by NPR finds that while rural Americans are mostly satisfied with life, there is a strong undercurrent of financial insecurity that can create very serious problems for many people living in rural communities.

The findings come from two surveys NPR has done with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on day-to-day life and health in rural America.

It was a warm, wet winter this year across much of the United States. In most states, this means more greenery, more rabbits, more rodents and more snakes — which raises the risk of snake bites for humans and their canine companions.

Biologist Gerad Fox is standing next to a loud rattlesnake. "Right now he's in a classic strike posture, very defensive," says Fox. "The rattle is a warning, saying, 'Back off. I'm dangerous. You should leave me alone.' "

Medicine continues to advance on many fronts, yet basic health care fails hundreds of women a year who die during or after pregnancy, especially women of color. Black mothers die at a rate that's 3.3 times greater than whites, and Native American or Alaskan Native women die at a rate 2.5 times greater than whites, according to a report out this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

When women get a mammogram they may be offered one of two types. The older type of mammogram takes a single straightforward X-ray image of the breast. The newer 3D takes pictures from many angles. Now, more evidence shows that 3D mammography offers a more thorough picture of breast tissue and is more accurate.

When Mary Hu, an administrator in communications with Yale School of Medicine, went to get a mammogram two years ago, she didn't even know she was getting 3D mammography, also called digital breast tomosynthesis. But she's glad that's what she got.

Measles is surging. Last week the U.S. recorded 90 cases, making this year's outbreak the second largest in more than two decades.

So far this year, the U.S. has confirmed 555 measles cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday. That's 50 percent higher than the total number recorded last year, even though we're only about a quarter of the way through 2019.

And the virus isn't slowing down.

Updated at 3:45 p.m.

A study published Thursday in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology finds the percentage of U.S. teens and young adults reporting mental distress, depression and suicidal thoughts and actions has risen significantly over the past decade. While these problems also increased among adults 26 and older, the increase was not nearly as large as among younger people.

Walking your dog can be a great way to build a little exercise into your life at any age. But take care, too: The number of Americans over age 65 who have had fractures associated with walking a dog on a leash has more than doubled since 2004, according to a study published this month.

Any kid with a cellphone or social media account is likely to be following one or more of thousands of social media influencers who regularly post about what they do, what they like and what they eat.

Generally, these are people in their 20s who are successful, outgoing, positive, energetic and "highly appealing" to the younger crowd, according to Anna Coates, a doctoral student at the School of Psychology at the University of Liverpool in the U.K.

All U.S. states require most parents to vaccinate their children against some preventable diseases, including measles, mumps, rubella and whooping cough, to be able to attend school. Such laws often apply to children in private schools and day care facilities as well as public schools.

Doctors can and should do more to prevent depression among pregnant women and new mothers by referring them to counseling. That's the recommendation of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an influential panel of clinicians and researchers that makes recommendations for patient care.

It's the middle of the night and you wake up to the disturbing sound of your little one crying and sniffling with a cold, sore throat or fever. And, if you're like many parents, you reach into the medicine cabinet, seeking some relief.

But giving medication — and getting the dose right — can be more challenging than you might think. Jesse and Shannan Ridall live in Palmyra, Pa., with their three young children. Jesse says the lined markings on dosing devices of children's medicine can be confusing, especially when they show both teaspoons and milliliters.

Want to reduce your risk of dementia in older age? Move as much as you can.

We've all heard about techniques to get us more physically active — take the stairs, park the car a bit further from your destination, get up and march in place for a minute or two when standing or sitting at a desk.

Now a study finds even simple housework like cooking or cleaning may make a difference in brain health in our 70s and 80s.

Need another reason to get the flu shot if you're pregnant?

A study out this week shows that pregnant women with the flu who are hospitalized in an intensive care unit are four times more likely to deliver babies prematurely and four and a half times more likely to have a baby of low birth weight.

It's that time of year again. You wake up with a scratchy throat, stuffy nose, a little achy — maybe a fever. Is it a classic head cold, or do you need to be more concerned? Could it be the flu?

Many American teenagers try to put in a full day of school, homework, after-school activities, sports and college prep on too little sleep. As evidence grows that chronic sleep deprivation puts teens at risk for physical and mental health problems, there is increasing pressure on school districts around the country to consider a later start time.

We know we need to exercise for our health, but a lifelong exercise habit may also help us feel younger and stay stronger well into our senior years. In fact, people in their 70s who have been exercising regularly for decades seem to have put a brake on the aging process, maintaining the heart, lung and muscle fitness of healthy people at least 30 years younger.

The marketing is enticing: Get stronger muscles and healthier bodies with minimal effort by adding protein powder to your morning shake or juice drink. Or grab a protein bar at lunch or for a quick snack. Today, you can find protein supplements everywhere — online or at the pharmacy, grocery store or health food store. They come in powders, pills and bars.

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