In June, a man became very ill during a flight into Lagos, Nigeria. On the plane, he developed vomiting and diarrhea, and he collapsed in the very busy airport. Contacts on the plane and on the ground had no idea that he had Ebola -- initially, he was treated for malaria -- and many health care workers and bystanders on the plane and in the airport were exposed to his ...

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The Journal Psychological Science just published a complicated, long, and fascinating study about happiness. The full text is tucked behind a paywall, but it’s great reading if you can get your hands on it. The authors arranged four separate experiments, looking at the effects of getting things versus experiencing things, and how the anticipation of waiting might affect happiness. Some of the studies involved just imagining a future purchase or vacation; ...

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Michelle wrote in: “We trained my 3-year-old son approximately 3 months ago, and it’s been great. He’s been having virtually no accidents. The problem is that he’s terrified of making ‘dirty’ on the toilet. He does it in his pamper at night when he’s sleeping. He’s very verbal about it, and tells me that he’s scared to let the dirty come out. It’s really difficult to deal with because there ...

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Recently, the Los Angeles Times reported on California pediatrician Dr. Bob Sears’ role as a favorite among vaccine-fearing parents. What he tells them is absolute nonsense that he has freely admitted he made up in a Reddit interview. Now he’s let a little more honesty shine through. He told the reporter: “I do think the disease danger is low enough where I think you can safely raise an unvaccinated child in today’s society,” ...

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Doing drugs no longer requires a dealer on the street corner. Between the late 1990′s and 2010 sales of narcotic pain medicines quadrupled in the United States. Hydrocodone use increased by 280%, methadone by 1300%, and oxycodone by 900%. As the consumption of these medicines increased, so did ER visits and deaths from overdose -- up by about 500%. A whole lot of these medicines are not going to medical use. And ...

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In a recent post, I wrote about the value of a yearly checkup with your child’s doctor -- it can be a whole lot more helpful than a quick sports physical at the local quickie-clinic. You can be sure to get the most out of your child’s checkups with these tips. First, and most important at all, go to the visit. You’d be surprised how often children are brought by ...

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shutterstock_83687596 Yearly checkups for school-aged and older kids can be a great opportunity to help your child stay healthy. Don’t skimp by relying on a cheapo sports physical at a local drug store. They cannot offer the kinds of important things your own doctor’s office can do for your child at a yearly well check. We’ll review old issues and problems. Still getting ...

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You’d think, being land-based mammals, we’d all be able to agree on the basic fact that humans breathe air, and that newborn human babies ought to be born into the air.  You know, so they can breathe. That’s how human babies have always been born, and that’s how all other primates are born, and that’s how all other land mammals are born. (Hats off to our cetacean cousins for their ...

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I wrote recently about getting started with an evaluation for a child who’s not doing well in school. Don’t rush to just do ADHD testing: There are many reasons for attention problems, and it’s best to not just zero in on ADHD at the start. Still, there’s a time when confirmation and testing for an ADHD diagnosis is appropriate. What kinds of tests are available? A clinical history is, well, talking ...

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We’re living in a world or ratings. Books get rated on Amazon, dry cleaners get rated on Yelp. Doctors are getting rated, too -- not only on web sites, but also in ways that end up dictating how much money we can make, or whether we can keep our ability to work in a hospital. Is this a good way to improve medical care or medical outcomes? Is it ...

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shutterstock_190347851 Antibiotic use is the direct cause of the rise of untreatable superbugs that are killing people. Antibiotic use is also the cause of most cases of C. diff colitis in kids, a potentially life-threatening, difficult-to-treat gut disorder. Antibiotics have also been linked with recurrent wheezing  in infants and inflammatory bowel disease. They can also trigger allergic reactions that can be severe or life-threatening. ...

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In pediatrics, almost all of our patients are healthy. We’ve got some doozies of special-needs kids, but by-and-large your ordinary pediatric patient is doing well, and does not need extensive testing or elaborate procedures to ensure good health. Still, we do run across some occasional problems. Some children have poor vision, or hearing problems, or kidney disease, or hypothyroidism. Or autism, or Tay-Sachs Disease, or a penny up their nose. A ...

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As the Wall Street Journal reported, there’s a growing shortage of qualified pilots in the US, driven by both economic reality and federal policy. Pilots typically start their professional careers at small, regional airlines -- airlines that pay, approximately, fast-food wages. Less than that, really -- for for the hours they work, many pilots make less than minimum wage.  After a few years, these pilots have enough flight time and experience to try ...

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Stephanie wrote in about a very common problem:

My daughter is 4 years old. She isn’t the tallest cat in town (she is about the 15th-25th percentile for height), and her BMI always ends up being in the high range (like over 85%). I worry about it. I am very health conscious for myself and my family. We live by all of the "rules." And yet. The family doctor doesn’t worry -- ...

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Doctor: “Phil, you have pneumonia.” Phil: “Oh noes. What shall I do?” Doctor: “Just take these red pills, here.” Phil: “Great! I feel better already! When can I go back to work?” Doctor: “I think in about 2 weeks. Or maybe 2 months. And actually, don’t take those red pills -- these blue ones are better. It could take a few years for you to get better, and I’ll be retired by then. Here, ...

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You know those little packets of paper, folded over eight times, written in type that can’t possibly be seen? You’ve seen them glommed onto the side of stock bottles of medications, or shoved into the paper box alongside a tube of prescription ointment. That unreadable thing is the official “product information,” often called the “label,” required for every FDA-approved medication. It contains all sorts of information, including lists of 
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Readers have contacted me about a recent study that links acetaminophen use in pregnancy to the later development of ADHD in children. Is Tylenol yet another thing pregnant women need to avoid? The study, titled “Acetaminophen use during pregnancy, behavioral problems, and hyperkinetic disorders” was published this month in JAMA Pediatrics. Dutch researchers looked at about 60,000 children born from 1996-2002. Their parents have been filling out questionnaires and ...

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Vaccine coverage rates, overall, remain very strong in the USA. Well over 90% of kids are well-vaccinated, and the rates of vaccine-preventable diseases remains very low. Newer vaccines have proven especially safe and effective, including immunizations against severe diarrheal illness and cancers of the cervix and throat. In many ways, we are staying ahead in our battle against vaccine-preventable disease. Yet: there are still pockets of intense resistance to vaccines, ...

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Two big studies have been published in the last few weeks, both of which have confirmed previous data: home birth is not as safe as hospital birth. These studies show that having a baby at home increases the risk of your baby dying by about 4 times. That really is a big increased risk -- especially considering that most home births are supposedly low-risk pregnancies. Those babies should be less likely ...

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Kayla wrote in:

Hello!  I am curious what you think about essential oils.  They have recently become incredibly popular in my community, but I am pretty skeptical because so much of the enthusiasm is coming from those who have signed up as ‘distributors’ with doTerra or Young Living (2 essential oil multi-level marketing companies.). The biggest concern I have is that these companies (and all these new distributors) recommend taking many ...

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