A while ago, I asked an 8-year-old patient of mine what she wanted to be when she grew up. She replied, “I’m not sure because right now I want to be a doctor, a firefighter, and a teacher … so maybe I’ll do all three … I’m not quite sure.” Uncertain about how to respond, I mumbled something like, “I don’t think you’ll have much free time.” Adulthood tends to make ...

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Vaccines First, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read this; I know you’re busy fund-raising and campaigning, so I’ll try to keep this brief. It’s recently become quite apparent that several of you have some misconceptions about our immunization program. That’s unfortunate for people who are seeking such a prominent position. I know science can ...

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I did something really death-defying with my daughter this summer. I taught her to drive. Truly, teaching a teen to drive is scarier than just about anything else we do as a parent. It's scarier than giving birth, as there are usually skilled people around during labor who can take over if things go awry. It's way scarier than first days of school or first dates, scarier than most illnesses and injuries ...

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I first met Marie five years ago. A petite, soft-spoken woman in her thirties, she was the patient of one of the residents whom I supervise at our community hospital. Marie worked in housekeeping for a large corporation; she and her husband, a bus driver, had a six-year-old son. Now she was twenty-six weeks (six months) pregnant with their second child. Marie's blood pressure was markedly elevated (168/120), she had fairly ...

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The 20th century saw striking advances in curing childhood cancer, primarily as a result of the discovery that broadly toxic chemotherapy agents could kill malignant cells. As a result, pediatric cancer, once a virtually incurable disease, now enjoys an overall long-term survival rate that tops 80 percent. In the 21st century, attention is turning to newer agents that promise to open additional, less toxic avenues to cure.  As we mark Childhood ...

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“Why aren’t you treating this patient?” Over the phone, the pediatrician’s voice crackled with disdain.  I had just spent the last 5 minutes explaining why I didn’t think surgery was necessary for a patient whom the pediatrician had referred to me (unwillingly, as she pointed out during our conversation -- the patient’s insurance wouldn’t cover visits to the much bigger competitor hospital that she normally referred to).  I remembered the little ...

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Overtesting -- it’s an epidemic threatening consumers of U.S. health care. The notion that testing can be anything but beneficial belies the common assumption that more information is always better, as exemplified by billionaire Mark Cuban’s proclamation earlier this year that he obtains “baseline” quarterly blood tests and encourages others to do so. Knowledge is power, right? Not always. Aside from adding economic strain to our already beleaguered health ...

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As a pediatrician, I get lots of questions from parents -- but sometimes I wish they would ask different ones. That's what check-ups are for, really: questions. Aside from questions about illnesses (obviously my purview, as a doctor), I get questions about just about every aspect of a child's life. The parents of babies and young children ask the most -- here are some of the most common: Should my baby's poop ...

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“If he is hungry when he wakes up, and you don’t let him eat, we’re taking him to another hospital,” the man shouted. I stood trapped between a protective papa bear and his cub. My instinct was to find an exit, but I braced myself for more. This father gave me one last glare before side-stepping around me and wrenching open the door to his child’s hospital room. I glimpsed ...

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I have a confession to make: I sometimes look forward to my trips to the bathroom at work. Being a busy pediatrician, it can be the only alone time I get to myself; and on occasion you just need a quiet place where babies aren’t crying, and phones aren’t ringing. The other day as I was leaving the bathroom and returning to the bustling clinic, I did something strange. I ...

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