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Journalism

Laurie Tarkan is an experienced health journalist who writes for the New York Times and national magazines. She is known for her thorough and fair reporting, her conversational writing style, her clean copy and ability to meet deadlines. Laurie has written for many of the women’s magazines and currently writes for FitnessLadies’ Home Journal,Prevention, Parenting, Parents, Fit Pregnancy,  and ViV magazine, a digital magazine. Magazines she has written for in the past include More, Glamour, Family Circle, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Child. Laurie is also the Executive Editor of WellBeeFile, a blog covering news and information on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). She also writes for other websites and created a health@work blog called Peak Performance, for CBSnews.com. She now covers this and other topics for Foxnews.com.

Sickle Cell Transplants Could See Wider Use, New York Times, Nov. 2012
In her mid-20s, Yetunde Felix-Ukwu wore a Fentanyl patch that delivered enough narcotic to knock most adults out cold. Yet it barely kept her pain, caused by sickle cell disease, tolerable….
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Horrible Bosses, Viv magazine, spring, 2012
An estimated 7 percent of people, more women than men, are bullied in the workplace, with some surveys showing numbers as high as 35 percent. Though plenty of people are subjected to horrible bosses, bullying goes beyond temper flare-ups and hardass behavior to a systematic campaign of personal destruction.
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Aging of Eyes Is Blamed for Range of Health Woes, New York Times, Feb. 2012
For decades, scientists have looked for explanations as to why certain conditions occur with age, among them memory loss, slower reaction time, insomnia and even depression. They have scrupulously investigated such suspects as high cholesterol, obesity, heart disease and an inactive lifestyle. Now a fascinating body of research supports a largely unrecognized culprit: the aging of the eye.\
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New Drugs Raise Hope for Patients With M.S., New York Times, Dec. 2011                 
After decades of basic research on M.S., the last five years have brought a rapid rollout of new and sophisticated drugs that are changing how this disease is managed and offering patients new hope.
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A Nursing Home Shrinks Until It Feels Like a Home, New York Times, Oct. 2011                 
Toni Davis spent much of her childhood roaming the corridors of a nursing home in West Orange, N.J., where her mother was the director. Even now she recalls the pleas of the residents there: “ ‘Please help me, please take me home with you,’ they’d beg,” Ms. Davis said. “I remember asking my mom, ‘Why can’t we take them home for dinner for just one night?’" Following in her mother’s footsteps, Ms. Davis is now director of Green Hill Retirement Community, a nursing home and assisted living facility, and she is determined to make it into a place where residents feel little reason to leave. She has added fish tanks and bird cages, hung pictures on the walls carpeted the corridors, and brought in dogs for pet therapy.
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Using Acupuncture to Treat Health Problems, Prevention magazine, June 2011
Acupuncture is gaining new traction--and respect--in hospitals and doctors' offices as evidence of its curative power piles up. Here, why this Chinese medicine works--and what health problems it's best for.
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Allergies Suck! How to Handle Allergy Season, Ladies’ Home Journal, May 2011
How to arm yourself against the hidden hazards of indoor and outdoor allergens -- and the surprising ways they can make you sick.
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5 Steps to Prevent Skin Cancer, Family Circle, June 2011
The ozone layer is shrinking, the rates of skin cancer are rising, and you can still recall the blistering sunburns you had as a kid or those deep dark tans you (regrettably) worked so hard on as a teen. But does that mean you're doomed to get skin cancer? Absolutely not. "Careful sun avoidance and safe sun practices at any age can greatly reduce your risk," says Barbara Gilchrest, MD, professor of dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine.
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Illness’ Missing Link, Viv.com, Jan/Feb 2010
If you’ve ever sprained an ankle, gotten a splinter or been stung by a bee, you are familiar with the classic signs of inflammation —redness, swelling and pain. But this very same defense response, which is the normal way your body deals with insults and injuries, if left unchecked, is now thought to contribute to heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and some cancers.
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Labels Urged for Food That Can Choke, New York Times, May 24, 2010
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2010/05/25/science/25choke/25choke-articleInline-v3.jpgOn a July afternoon in 2006, Patrick Hale microwaved a bag of popcorn for his two young children and sat down with them to watch television. When he got up to change the channel, he heard a strange noise behind him, and turned to see his 23-month-old daughter, Allison, turning purple and unable to breathe.

As a Marine, he was certified in CPR, but he could not dislodge the popcorn with blows to her back and finger swipes down her throat. He called 911, but it was too late: by the time Allison arrived at the hospital, her heart had stopped beating. An autopsy found that she had inhaled pieces of popcorn into her vocal cords, her bronchial tubes and a lung.

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Is Your Pain Treatment Hurting? Prevention magazine, April, 2010

A year after giving birth to her third child, Teresa Shaffer began to feel excruciating pain in her back. An MRI revealed that the cushiony disks in her back were deteriorating, a sign of osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that typically arises much later in life. She was only 24. "Because I was so young, the doctor didn't believe I had the disease," says Shaffer, now 46. He told her to take OTC pain relievers.

It wasn't until she visited a different doctor that she began to truly get help. He asked if she was depressed (back pain and depression often go hand in hand), prescribed an antidepressant, and referred her for counseling. He sent her for physical therapy and put her on the fentanyl patch, a strong opioid for people who need constant medicine. Now she's able to walk for an hour on the treadmill every day.

An estimated 43 million Americans report living with chronic pain, defined as lasting for at least three months. Yet experts agree that it's woefully undertreated in our country. Despite breakthroughs in the understanding of pain, few doctors are aware of these advances or are trained in pain management, says Michel Dubois, M.D., director of pain medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center.
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Pain 24/7, Viv.com, Nov/Dec 2009

Women are more susceptible to chronic pain and often suffer undiagnosed and untreated. That’s a shame because there are plenty of effective options to manage and control the four most common of these frustrating conditions.
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Is It ... Perimenopause? Prevention magazine, September, 2009

http://www.prevention.com/pvnstatic-assets/images/298x232_article_size/health/298x232-isit_perimenopause.jpgOne night last spring, I burst out bawling over the money my husband and I had lost in the stock market many months earlier—and then just as suddenly, my mourning morphed into rage, as I unleashed a litany of recriminations toward him that kept us up late into the night. I felt utterly distraught about our marriage and life in general. The next morning, on day 25 of my menstrual cycle—four days early—I got my period. It wasn't the first cycle that had been short or the first time my anger had reached a frenzied pitch in recent months, though I hadn't equated it with my period nor my age. Until now. It dawned on me that perhaps, at 47, I was experiencing something I knew very little about—perimenopause.
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For Parents On NICU, Trauma May Last, New York Times August 25, 2009

Kim Roscoe's son, Jaxon, was born three months early, weighing two and a half pounds. But for nine days he did exceedingly well in the neonatal intensive care unit, and Ms. Roscoe felt little different from the other new mothers. Her nightmare started on Day 10.

''I had left him late the night before, in my arms, tiny but perfect,'' said Ms. Roscoe, now 30, of Monterey, Calif. But when she returned to the NICU the next day, Jaxon was in respiratory and kidney failure, and his body had swollen beyond recognition. ''He was hooked up to ventilators, his skin was turning black, the alarms kept dinging over and over,'' Ms. Roscoe recalled. Jaxon is 16 months old now, and home with his family. But he was in the NICU for 186 days, and his days and weeks were punctuated by near-death episodes.

During the six-month ordeal, Ms. Roscoe had constant nightmares. She slept with her shoes on, expecting a call from the hospital at any moment. She became angry at the world, and so jumpy she thought a supermarket scanner was one of Jaxon's monitors going off. Her husband, Scott, immersed himself in projects, took care of their daughter, Logan, now 6, and held things together emotionally.
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Too Much Mama: Why experts are rethinking the pregnancy weight-gain guidelines,
Fit Pregnancy,
February, 2009

Before Jennifer Griola, then 30, of West Orange, N.J., became pregnant, she weighed just under 300 pounds. Griola lost 30 pounds, but at 5 feet 10 inches tall, she was still considered obese when she found out she was expecting. During her pregnancy, Griola gained back the 30 pounds and developed borderline hypertension and gestational diabetes. At week 34 she went into labor and delivered her daughter, Sarah, via emergency Cesarean section because her placenta ruptured. Sarah was in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for 10 days, a harrowing time for Griola and her husband. 

After giving birth, Griola was determined to take the weight off and lost 55 pounds. During her second pregnancy six months later, she gained only 15 pounds. That time around, her blood pressure and blood sugar levels were normal and her second daughter was delivered at term. Today, two years after her first pregnancy, she has lost 92 pounds. 

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A Culprit In Infertility, Overlooked Yet Treatable, New York Times, July 7, 2009

For more than four years, Joann Citrone of West Deptford, N.J., went through round after round of expensive infertility treatments. But it wasn't until two years after she and her husband adopted their second child from South Korea that she was finally given a correct diagnosis.
She suffered from a common yet often overlooked condition that can lead to infertility and a host of perplexing symptoms -- yet is easily treated when it is properly diagnosed.

The condition is nonclassical congenital adrenal hyperplasia, or C.A.H. -- a hormone deficiency that leads to excess production of androgens. In women it can interfere with ovulation; in men it can cause low sperm count. In addition, it can lead to short stature, body odor, acne, irregular menstruation and the excessive hair growth called hirsutism. (Ms. Citrone, now 38, had some of these symptoms, too.)

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Sleepless in America, Parents magazine

Almost one-third of children don't get enough sleep. And the more experts focus on the causes, the more they are finding that nighttime disturbances are linked to other childhood problems. Read on for the newest research breakthroughs and expert strategies to solve common bedtime battles.
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Arrogant, Abusive and Disruptive — and a Doctor, New York Times, December 1, 2008

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/12/01/science/02rage_190.jpgIt was the middle of the night, and Laura Silverthorn, a nurse at a hospital in Washington, knew her patient was in danger. The boy had a shunt in his brain to drain fluid, but he was vomiting and had an extreme headache, two signs that the shunt was blocked and fluid was building up. When she paged the on-call resident, who was asleep in the hospital, he told her not to worry.

After a second page, Ms. Silverthorn said, “he became arrogant and said, ‘You don’t know what to look for — you’re not a doctor.’ ”He ignored her third page, and after another harrowing hour she called the attending physician at home. The child was rushed into surgery. “He could have died or had serious brain injury,” Ms. Silverthorn said, “but I was treated like a pest for calling in the middle of the night.”

Her experience is borne out by surveys of hospital staff members, who blame badly behaved doctors for low morale, stress and high turnover. (Ms. Silverthorn said she had been brought to tears so many times that she was trying to start her own business and leave nursing.)


A Rise in Kidney Stones Is Seen in U.S. Children, New York Times, October 27, 2008
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To the great surprise of parents, kidney stones, once considered a disorder of middle age, are now showing up in children as young as 5 or 6. While there are no reliable data on the number of cases, pediatric urologists and nephrologists across the country say they are seeing a steep rise in young patients. Some have opened pediatric kidney stone clinics

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E.R. Patients Often Left Confused After Visits, New York Times, September 15, 2008

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A vast majority of emergency room patients are discharged without understanding the treatment they received or how to care for themselves once they get home, researchers say. And that can lead to medication errors and serious complications that can send them right back to the hospital.
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Doctors Say Medication Is Overused in Dementia, New York Times, June 24, 2008
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Ramona Lamascola thought she was losing her 88-year-old mother to dementia. Instead, she was losing her to overmedication. Last fall her mother, Theresa Lamascola, of the Bronx, suffering from anxiety and confusion, was put on the antipsychotic drug Risperdal. When she had trouble walking, her daughter took her to another doctor — the younger Ms. Lamascola’s own physician — who found that she had unrecognized hypothyroidism, a disorder that can contribute to dementia.

Theresa Lamascola was moved to a nursing home to get these problems under control. But things only got worse. “My mother was screaming and out of it, drooling on herself and twitching,” said Ms. Lamascola, a pediatric nurse. The psychiatrist in the nursing home stopped the Risperdal, which can cause twitching and vocal tics, and prescribed a sedative and two other antipsychotics.
“I knew the drugs were doing this to her,” her daughter said. “I told him to stop the medications and stay away from Mom.”

Not until yet another doctor took Mrs. Lamascola off the drugs did she begin to improve.
The use of antipsychotic drugs to tamp down the agitation, combative behavior and outbursts of dementia patients has soared, especially in the elderly. Sales of newer antipsychotics like Risperdal, Seroquel and Zyprexa totaled $13.1 billion in 2007, up from $4 billion in 2000, according to IMS Health, a health care information company.
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Lowering Odds of Multiple Births, New York Times, February 19, 2008
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In the complex, expensive and emotionally charged world of fertility treatment, doctors are sounding a call to arms to reverse the soaring rate of . The doctors are responding to an unintended consequence of the success of in vitro fertilization — that it is often too successful. Since 1980, when the technique became available in the United States, the rate of twins in all births has climbed 70 percent, to 3.2 percent of births in 2004.
Much of the increase, experts say, is a result of in vitro treatment. The rate of triplets and higher-order multiples increased even more from 1980 to 1998. It is not that twins or triplets are undesirable, doctors say. But multiple pregnancies often lead to risky preterm births and other complications. With that in mind, fertility centers are trying to lower the odds of such pregnancies, even at a cost of slightly lower success rates.

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Scientists Begin to Grasp the Stealthy Spread of Cancer, New York Times, August 15, 2006

The moment when a cancer begins to spread throughout the body — metastasis — has always been the most dreaded turning point of the disease. 
Without metastasis, cancer would barely be a blip on the collective consciousness. Fewer than 10 percent of cancer deaths are caused by the primary tumor; the rest stem from metastasis to vital sites like the lungs, the liver, the bones and the brain.
Though chemotherapy and other treatments have lengthened the lives of people with metastasized cancer, no drugs have been specifically formulated to halt the process. That is because metastasis has remained something of a mystery until the last five years or so.
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