From the moment I saw the study — and editorial and editor’s note — among JAMA’s embargoed studies, I knew it would be a doozy. Certain topics arouse controversy simply by their existence, and water fluoridation is very high on that list.
So when I was assigned to write about the JAMA Pediatrics study (Reminder: AHCJ members get free access to the JAMA Network.) finding a link between prenatal fluoride exposure and reduced IQ in preschoolers, two things went through my mind: One, this is going to be covered horribly by some outlets and likely create unnecessary anxiety among parents, especially pregnant women (who have enough to worry about when it comes to do’s and don’ts). Two, I need to be one of those who gets it right. Continue reading
As the editors of the prestigious medical journal anticipated, the newly published Canadian study is causing a stir.
The paper, which appears in JAMA Pediatrics links higher fluoride consumption by pregnant women with lower intelligence scores in their offspring. The findings represent the latest foray by researchers into fluoride safety, an emotionally fraught topic in both the U.S. and Canada.
The authors of the paper studied fluoride exposure for 512 mother-child pairs, about 40% of whom lived in fluoridated communities across six Canadian cities. They calculated fluoride levels in local water supplies and fluoride concentrations in the pregnant women’s’ urine.
There’s no doubt that a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is devastating for both the person who receives it and for their family.
Although it’s the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., affecting nearly 6 million people, finding a cure or even a long-term treatment has proven elusive. Most drugs never make it out of Phase I or II trials. Continue reading
The first AHCJ conference I ever attended was in 2011 in Philadelphia. I had only recently learned about the organization and knew very little about it. I’d signed up for a field trip, but I had brought my 8-month-old with me and was up late the night before, so overslept and missed it.
When I actually got to the conference (my aunt watched my son), I caught the second half of a Thursday workshop with Ivan Oransky, M.D., (now AHCJ’s president) and Gary Schwitzer of HealthNewsReview.org on how to understand and responsibly report on medical studies. It was the session I would eventually end up leading myself years later. Continue reading
In a recent social media post, a fellow journalist asked how others get up to speed on reporting about topics new to them, or even covering a new subtopic within an area they already cover. Here’s some of what was shared in that online discussion, and I encourage others to share their tips in the comments as well.
If it’s a quick piece with a tight turnaround and I find I’m out of my depth, I go back to the editor and say so. I’ve turned down assignments even after taking them if I realize I just don’t have the necessary foundational knowledge. Continue reading
If you are joining us for Health Journalism 2019 in Baltimore in a few weeks, be sure to arrive in time to attend the Thursday morning workshop on reporting on medical studies.
For those not attending any field trips, you have the opportunity to come and hear from two new speakers this year who will expand our discussion of medical research coverage to cost effectiveness, policy and patient-centered outcomes studies, plus some extra diving into understanding those intimidating biostats in studies! Continue reading