It was a Wednesday in late spring, 1972. I was a nursing student in my final months of training, eagerly awaiting graduation. When I arrived on the maternity ward that morning, my nursing instructor told me that I'd be caring for a baby, only hours old, with special needs. I thought she'd send me to the neonatal ICU. Instead, to my surprise, she motioned toward the linen closet, its doors closed tight. "The ...

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One of the words we don’t use anymore is cretin; it’s long been a derogatory slur rather than a precise description of something. But a century ago cretinism actually meant a specific thing: a person, generally a child, who was severely damaged by a lack of thyroid hormone during early development, particularly fetal development. Now we call the condition congenital hypothyroidism. A few cases still exist, which is why we ...

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shutterstock_202121116 I suffered from extreme nausea during my pregnancy; I had triplets, and I’m pretty sure I had a triple dose. I never threw up, but you know how your mouth salivates the moment right before you vomit, that sensation that sends you running to the bathroom? I had that. All. Day. Long. For four weeks. By day four or five I was ...

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asco-logo The patient was a young looking 74-year-old woman, accompanied by her husband. She was not exactly sure why she was seeing me and nodded as I explained that I see all women with anal or rectal cancer who are being treated with radiation therapy. I explained that we recommend that these patients use vaginal dilators to improve elasticity after ...

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In my work as a bioethicist, I have very rarely taken an “absolutist” position regarding the use of a biomedical technology. But when I read an article titled “Chinese Scientists Edit Genes of Human Embryos, Raising Concerns,” my reaction was that this should not be done. I am not alone. The technique mentioned enables genes to be altered in every cell ...

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shutterstock_174096008 Each year children ingest an array of foreign bodies including coins, magnets, and a new subset of batteries known as button batteries. Awareness of this small yet very dangerous foreign body is important for parents to understand so they can act quickly if their child is suspected of ingestion. What is a button battery? A button battery is a cylindrically shaped object measuring ...

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shutterstock_146442830 For many women, pregnancy is a wonderful experience. There are, however, many changes and challenges the mom-to-be can expect, and back pain is one of them. The good news for pregnant women is that the development of severe or debilitating low back pain is very rare. The incidence of symptomatic low back pain that is severe is about 1 to 2 percent. ...

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shutterstock_173706362 With the flurry of Twitter posts about Maureen Dowd’s article “Stroke of Fate” in the New York Times, it almost seems as if the subject is already stale. Maureen Dowd is the Pulitzer Prize-winning op-ed columnist for the New York Times who tells a compelling story about a young patient who suffered from a stroke. The patient was healthy triathlete, ...

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Can beliefs make you fat? The answer to this question might seem pretty obvious. If I believe that the best way to lose weight is to super-size five meals a day at McDonald’s, while consuming bags of Doritos to tide me over between meals, that belief is probably going to make me fat. If I believe that the best way to get in shape is to watch other people exercise, I’m ...

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2015-04-20-1429540034-576455-analcancerscreening About 17 years ago, Jeff Taylor, an AIDS advocate, became worried he might have anal cancer. Through his work, Taylor knew that anal cancer rates had risen steeply among people with HIV. He was having discomfort, and he knew that there was a simple screening test: a swab that is processed just like a routine Pap smear. His doctor knew about the ...

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