Author: Melissa Jeltsen

Are industry funded drug trials too biased?

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You go to the doctor complaining of severe heartburn or depression or another common ailment. Your physician listens as you list your symptoms and then prescribes a medication that he trusts will work—based, in part, on the scientific literature published in peer-reviewed journals that espouses the drug’s safety and efficacy. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are prescribed popular medications in just this manner every day. But what if the evidence doctors rely on to make these decisions isn’t as objective as it appears? What if the results are influenced by who bankrolled the trial?

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Autism advocates and families celebrate new bill

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While there’s currently no cure for autism spectrum disorders, experts agree that intensive behavioral therapies, like applied behavioral therapy (ABA), can make a huge difference. Research shows it needs to be intensive to be effective, to the tune of 20 hours a week. But in Massachusetts, insurance companies often don’t cover ABA and families must pay out of pocket for expensive therapies.

Now, the new autism insurance bill, signed by Governor Deval Patrick today, hopes to remedy that. “I really see this as a civil rights issue,” says Carolyn Bridgemohan, MD, of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Developmental Medicine Center. “This bill validates the rights of people with special needs to have fair and equal access to the health care that they need.”

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Father of a transgender tween speaks out

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What’s it like to raise a transgender child? In this Thrive exclusive, a father reflects on his experience. Click here to read more about his daughter and a new medical treatment at Children’s that offers hope to transgender teens.

My 12 year old transgender daughter is my mentor. It’s tough to put into words what a profound impact this small person has had in changing my core values, but since the young age of five, she has unknowingly encouraged me to open my eyes and heart to new ideas. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve watched her experience severe emotional pain and physical frustration, but thanks to support and guidance, I’ve watched as she’s become a confident, happy and healthy child. And as she changed, I changed too.

For a lot of men, change is hard. Over the last 25 years, my body has aged. I can no longer run a six minute mile, touch the rim of a basketball hoop or bench press 200 pounds. But my emotional change has been more shocking.

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Schools say bye to Twinkies, hi to locally-grown kale?

school lunchThe new regulations for public schools prohibit fryolators in the preparation of competitive foods. This line, from Massachusetts’ new school nutrition bill, is enough to make nutrition activists jump with joy. Fried foods will be just one of the unhealthy items stricken from Mass. schools after Governor Deval Patrick signs the bill today (full text of the bill here).

“This bill is certainly not a panacea for the childhood obesity epidemic, but it is an important step in creating healthier environments for children,” says Lisa Mannix, manager of State Government Relations at Children’s Hospital Boston, who points out that, on average, children consume two-thirds of their total daily calories while at school. Mannix, along with a number of Children’s clinicians and child health advocates, played crucial roles in advocating for and shaping the legislation.

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