As the U.S. endures its largest measles outbreak in 25 years -- one that’s almost certainly going to get worse before it gets better -- we’re getting a lot of calls and questions at my office. What’s measles, what’s the best way to prevent it, when should the vaccine be given to adults and children? The measles vaccine is given as “MMR,” which teaches the immune system to fight off measles, ...

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While the vast majority of measles cases in the U.S. and worldwide are occurring in unvaccinated children, a fair percentage is also occurring in adults.  With more-widespread transmission of measles, it’s becoming more important for all of us – yes, that includes parents – to make sure we’re well-protected. Measles is probably the single most contagious infection that humans face. The key to preventing the return of widespread measles is in ...

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Everyone loves chocolate, and nobody likes to cough. So when headlines like these appeared, they made a big media splash: Apparently Chocolate Might Be Better for Treating Coughs than Honey and Lemon. Chocolate Fights Coughs Better Than Codeine, Says Science. Chocolate Is a Better Cough Suppressant than Medicine, Study Says. Looks good, huh? Chocolate for a cough – and the headlines say it’s better than ...

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An August 2018 paper in Academic Pediatrics found an unsettling conclusion: Breastfed newborns have about double the risk of needing to be hospitalized in their first month of life, compared to babies who were formula-fed. The numbers are solid, and they jibe with the real-life experience of many pediatricians, including me. So what should we do about it? The study itself looked at about 150,000 healthy, normal newborns born in ...

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“Personalized” medicine sounds appealing. Rather than just guessing at what medication to try, a genetic test can figure out, in advance, which medications will be effective and which medications are more likely to make you sicker. Except it doesn’t work. It’s mostly marketing and hype. The FDA has officially warned consumers and physicians that genetic tests sold to predict patient responses to medications shouldn’t be used. They’re not FDA approved, and ...

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Peanut allergies can be a serious problem, and many exposures happen when our kids are at school. On average, there are probably about 5 peanut-allergic children in each of our nation’s 100,000 school buildings. What’s the best policy for schools to use to help protect these kids from potentially fatal reactions? Different schools have taken different approaches, and as far as I can tell there is no authoritative national guideline ...

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You’ve probably seen it on the news – a rare, polio-like illness is causing cases of paralysis in children. Here’s the latest info, based on our best current knowledge from the CDC. Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a sudden illness that causes weakness in one or more extremities – one arm or (less likely) a leg, or any combination of arms and legs. The words in the name express the key ...

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College students work hard, and many are looking for ways to improve their studying and learn more effectively. Getting more sleep and more exercise would probably help, but up to a third are trying ADHD medications to see if pills can give them that extra boost. A small, recent study shows that they’re not getting the effect they’re looking for. We’re not talking, here, about teens who have ADHD. There’s ...

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Facebook. Where else could I stumble on a video of a baby hippo taking a bath, or Toto’s Africa performed on solo Harp? But among the shares and silliness and talent, there’s a dark side to Facebook. It’s become a fast way for quacks to push their scams and empty your wallet. Just today in my feed I received a promoted post about a “food sensitivity test.” I’m not going to link directly ...

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A doctor writes prescription, pharmacist fills prescription, insurance covers prescription. Simple, right? But that’s not the way it works anymore. Some changes are good. Gone are the cryptic abbreviations and illegible handwriting -- replaced by computer printed scripts, or better yet scripts magically transmitted via the ether. But along with fewer errors there’s even less transparency on pricing and coverage. Patients, who haven’t been to pharmacy school and couldn’t possibly decode the pages of ...

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