Two newborn deaths in the same family set off a race to solve a medical mystery

The unthinkable happened to Prudence and Jon Marsh. Twice. The couple’s first child, Teagan, lived only two hours. She died before her parents could hold her. A fast-moving infection, the hospital staff said. A year later, their son Jackson was born. His mother held him for only a minute before the staff hustled him into neonatal intensive care — merely as a precaution. He seemed perfectly healthy. Then Jackson began turning blue. Acid was building up in his blood and his tiny body couldn’t clear it. He lived just 13 hours. Click here to read the story on STAT. As the Marshes, who live in Northern California, tried to recover, a team of researchers set out to determine what had killed their

Ask Well: Can Nightmares Cause a Heart Attack?

Q: Can nightmares or upsetting dreams cause a heart attack while sleeping? A: There are case reports of people with no previously known risks having a heart attack after a nightmare, though they appear to be quite rare. No studies have been done to determine just how rare nightmare-induced heart attacks might be, and experts do not know whether they may result from the pulse-racing effects of the frightening dream itself. Click here to read this on Nightmares are more commonly seen in the rapid eye movement, or REM, phase of sleep, which gets longer as the night progresses. Therefore, nightmares are more likely to occur in the early morning hours. Heart attacks, too, are most com

Genetic Treatments for Sickle Cell: When it comes to a devastating blood disorder, sometimes two wro

Ceniya Harris, age nine, of Boston should be a very sick little girl. Both her parents unknowingly passed her a copy of the genetic mutation for sickle-cell disease, a debilitating and sometimes fatal blood disorder. With a double dose of the mutant gene, Ceniya's body produces a defective kind of hemoglobin—the molecule in red blood cells that takes oxygen from the lungs and releases it into tissues throughout the body. The flawed hemoglobin molecules can deform the normally round blood cells into a crescent, or sickle, shape, leading the cells to clump together and hinder oxygen's passage into tissues. The subsequent physiological havoc, known as a sickle-cell crisis, is incredibly painful

About me

Cover COVID-19 

and patient safety

for USA Today.

Former long-time health/science

journalist, contributing to The

New York Times, The Washington Post, 

Scientific, and others. Journalism educator and book author.


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