Cholera epidemic adds to Haiti's woes

The effect of cholera on an already devastated Haiti

How our genes set us up for mental illness.

What do we really know about the causes of mental illness, and how much of it is predetermined versus caused by life experience?

Are ethical choices a function of time and place?

While it can seem that the "right thing to do" is always just that, irrespective of time or place, upon careful examination it almost always turns out that this is an illusion. Very few things in life are black and white and the context in which choices need to be made almost always have a major influence in the decisions we make. 

When greed undermines trust

Surveys routinely rank doctors and other healthcare professionals at the top of the list when it comes to inspiring trust. And with good reason: if we didn't trust our doctors and nurses, we would not place our lives and those of our loved ones in their hands. 

More on not sleeping enough and gaining weight

Many studies have shown that people who don't get enough sleep have a higher incidence of overweight. Now, there is new information about the behaviors which cause this.

Not even to save a child's life?

More from "Big Paul" Sebring, an amazing human being saving lives, one person at a time (reprodued here with his permission). Please read, forward, and consider donating to his organization, MMRC ( I've seen firsthand what it is that he and his group do, how important it is, and can vouch that money sent will directly help the people of Haiti.

Turning 40 Winks Into Decades: The Pace Of Time In Dreams

As we dream, time loses its constancy and reliability. Seconds turn to minutes, minutes to hours and days, even longer if one enters a dream within a dream. This is why we can transform the ringing of an alarm clock into the bell of a fire truck and keep on sleeping, all in a matter of milliseconds

More on the shortage of pediatric subspecialists

A reader asked: How many resident spots are available at Children's Hospital Boston or MA as a whole? How many unmatched? I think that what you are saying it is just not accurate.

Reversing the growing shortage of pediatric subspecialists

It is a commonly accepted truth that there is an unhealthy imbalance between the small number of primary care providers and the large number of specialists in the American health care system.  This imbalance is blamed, among other things, for the rise in healthcare costs.

No end in sight to the nightmare in Haiti

Paul Sebring, a friend of mine who has been working tirelessly for the last six months to help the Haitan people recover from the devastating earthquake and years of privation and abuse posted today about his (and others') efforts to extricate a group of 65 girls from an orphanage in which they were being subjected to starvation and physical abuse.

Book about malaria reveals much about medicine

Sonia Shah has written a very interesting book about malaria and its impact on humanity. More than just a scientific (and medical) overview of the disease, the book also very skillfully examines many of the social, cultural and anthropological reasons behind the lack of success in achieving its eradication. 

Kids of lesbian couples turn out just fine (if not better)

Kids of same-sex couples turn out just fine, thank you very much.

Driving While Sleepy Big Risk To Teenage Drivers

A recent study suggests that earlier school start times cause teens to get less sleep, leading to increased motor vehicle accidents

Making a difference.

 I was in Washington D.C. yesterday as part of a group from Children's Hospital Boston which included families and children cared for at our hospital, clinicians, and government relations people. We met with a number of senators and representatives and their staff to talk about some of the challenges we face.

Learning how to shave on someone else's beard

KJ wrote in response to a previous post about research which found that calories are burned off faster during REM sleep than while awake:I am curious. Is it possible for a person to be put to sleep and nourished intravenously to lose weight? 

The people that you meet

Having had three weeks to process some of what I saw in Haiti, I realize that alongside the suffering and devastation that were everywhere, I also encountered some incredible examples of humanity at its finest.

The immense human tragedy 700 miles from Miami

The 9 days I spent in Haiti working at the State University Hospital (HUEH) were the most powerful experience I've had in over 20 years. The destruction and devastation are overwhleming, and the human tragedy which is unfolding shows no signs of abating; if anything, it is only getting worse. 

Thoughts on going to Haiti

Thoughts on going to Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Why is it so hard to get out of bed in the morning?

A reader wrote in:I too am interested in the help available for those who simply cannot wake up in the morning. My brother has, since a young kid, absolutely not been able to wake up in the morning on his own. Even with very intense attempts to wake him by others, it is about an hour long procedure in itself, maybe longer. 

Looking before you leap: distinguishing hypothesis from fact

Is much of mental illness in this country caused by the very medications used to treat it? Robert Whitaker certainly thinks so. In "Anatomy of an Epidemic" Whitaker presents his theory that the dramatic increase in mental illness in the United States since World War II is the direct result of the medicines psychiatrists have been prescribing to treat it.

Feedback on Feedback

Thank you for all the comments in response to my last post on the impressions I came away with from the 26th annual Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress which I attended this past weekend. This is the most feedback any of my postings has received, and speaks, I believe, to the appreciation by those in close contact with people with Down of how special they are.

A cross-section of the future of mankind

Yesterday I attended the 26th annual Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress. The first session I attended was a meeting for new parents, led by two mothers of teens with Down syndrome who are active in helping families of children, and Dr. Allen Crocker, until recently the director of the Down Syndrome Program at Children's Hospital Boston.

We CAN learn from other countries' experience

After following the epic struggle to get the Senate health care reform bill passed in the House this weekend, it is important to remember that this is not the end of the process, but only the beginning, as there is still so much more which needs to be done to make health care more accessible, affordable, and better.

More TV + less sleep = less sex

The National Sleep Foundation released the results of its "Sleep in America 2010" poll this week, in which 1007 adults were asked about their sleep and sleep habits. When specifically asked whether their intimate/sexual relationships had been negatively affected by sleepiness, 17-23% said that they had.

Sleep deprivation affects how we interpret emotional cues

A new study published in the March issue of the journal SLEEP* has found that sleep deprivation interferes with people's ability to distinguish between the facial expressions of others, specifically to determine whether they are happy or angry. 

Struggling with end of life decisions

"A Life Worth Living: A Doctor's Reflections on Illness in a High-Tech Era" by Robert Martensen MD is an incredibly eye opening and thought provoking book which addresses many of the issues which arise around end of life care. 

Driving While Sleepy Can Be As Dangerous As Drunk Driving

Sleepiness is a major cause of motor vehicle accidents, and teenagers and young adults seem to be especially at risk. Teenage drivers are three times as likely to be involved in car accidents than middle age adult drivers, and studies have shown that 2/3 of sleepiness-related crashes occur in teens and young adults.

Keeping Things From "Going Postal" At Work

What are the warning signs which precede workplace violence?  How you can identify a deteriorating situation before tragedy occurs and take meaures to prevent it from happening.

Children who are afraid of the dark

This week I was asked what the best strategy is for helping a child who is afraid of the dark fall asleep at night.Some children REALLY don't like being left alone in the dark, and become anxious when the lights are turned off in their room. Instead of falling asleep, they become very alert, hearing goblins every time the house creaks.