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Do Pandemic Mental Health Checks With Your Teens in These 8 Ways

A new study says the COVID pandemic is taking a toll on our collective mental health.

Per NPR:

Nearly a quarter of people in the United States are experiencing symptoms of depression, according to a study published Wednesday. That’s nearly three times the number before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

And those with a lower income, smaller savings and people severely affected by the pandemic — either through a job loss, for example, or by the death of a loved one — are more likely to be bearing the burden of these symptoms.

When a population experiences something traumatic, such as a pandemic or a natural disaster, researchers usually expect a rise in mental illnesses in the weeks and months following the event.

But the mental health toll of the coronavirus pandemic seems to be far greater than previous mass traumas, says Catherine Ettman, a doctoral student in public health at Brown University and an author of the study, which was published in the current issue of the American Medical Association journal JAMA Network Open.

The impact for teens can be devastating.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among teens, but experts are fearing the worst as young adults prepare to face unknown challenges that the return of school may bring – from coping with varying curricula, stressing over grades, and continued social isolation from friends and trusted teachers.

In Raising Global Teens, Dr. Anisha Abraham analyzes key subjects facing today’s teens, in the context of our modern, mobile world. Dr. Abraham shares some real-world examples with practical solutions, drawing on her latest research and personal experiences to help teens thrive in school despite COVID-19 and the eradication of their daily lives.

Some  points from the book include:

1.  Stop Comparing – Remind your teens that no one is perfect. Everyone is “uneven”, meaning they excel in some areas, but not others, and that is OK.

2. Time Management – Encourage your teen to set goals, prioritize tasks, break large assignments into smaller steps, work for designated time periods and take  breaks, and use a reminder system for deadlines.

3. Unwinding – Make sure your teen is taking time to fill their “anti-stress toolbox” with healthy ways to unwind. This could be as simple as talking to trusted friends or watching a funny show.

4. Mind & Body Care – Ensure your teen is getting adequate sleep, eating well, and exercising to regulate mood and energy levels.

5.Resilience – Support your teen during these times of uncertainty and  help them to build resilience and get “bounce”

6. Conversations – Have important conversations with teens about challenging topics such as pubertal changes, sexting, vaping, planning for the future and more

7. Signs of Depression & Suicide Risk – Understand warning signs which include: mood swings, withdrawal, poor sleeping or appetite, trouble with memory and concentration, talking or writing about suicide, and giving away belongings.

8. Get Help and Support. Know when and where to get professional support  if you believe your teen is depressed or suicidal. Each city, county, state and community have resources, some free, some paid that are available. Don’t wait too long. Do some research online and get help sooner than later. It could mean the difference between life and death.

Mental health is a serious thing to consider especially in this pandemic era. Consider these tips and purchasing Dr. Abraham’s book at Amazon here!

We are all in this together.

Report: Mother to Baby COVID-19 Transmission is Uncommon

Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash

Transmission of COVID-19 from mother to baby during pregnancy is uncommon, and the rate of infection is no greater when the baby is born vaginally, breastfed or allowed contact with the mother, according to a new study.

The research also found that babies that did test positive for COVID-19, were mostly asymptomatic. The findings are published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Many early reports in the literature on COVID-19 in pregnancy suggested that in order to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 from mother to baby, it was safer to have a cesarean, to isolate the baby from the mother at birth and to formula feed, but there was very little evidence to support these guidelines.

To conclusively look at the risks associated with COVID-19 and pregnancy, experts from the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham have undertaken a systematic review of 49 studies looking into this much talked about topic.

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Study: Covid-19 May Attack Placenta in Pregnant Women

A small study of 16 pregnant women who tested positive for Covid-19 found evidence of injury to the placenta, the organ that acts as the gut, kidneys, liver and lungs for a fetus during pregnancy.

Pathological exams completed directly following birth found evidence of insufficient blood flow from the mother to the fetus and blood clots in the placenta.

That might interfere with the placenta’s role in delivering oxygen and nutrients from the mother’s blood stream to the growing baby and removing waste products from the baby’s blood.

“Not to paint a scary picture, but these findings worry me,” said Northwestern Medicine obstetrician Dr. Emily Miller, coauthor of the study published Friday in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology, in a statement.

Despite following only 16 women, the authors said the study is the largest examination of the health of placentas in women who tested positive for Covid-19 done to date.

“I don’t want to draw sweeping conclusions from a small study, but this preliminary glimpse into how Covid-19 might cause changes in the placenta carries some pretty significant implications for the health of a pregnancy,” said Miller, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“We must discuss whether we should change how we monitor pregnant women right now,” Miller said, which she said might be done by testing the oxygen delivery of the placenta during the pregnancy and following the growth of babies via ultrasounds.

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Study: Parents Respect Teachers More, Think They Deserve More Pay

Just in time for National Teacher Appreciation Month which starts tomorrow, a new study finds that parents have a newfound respect for teachers and more believe teachers should be paid more.

As parents take on new roles as educators, a new report found that brand new homeschooling American parents have changing attitudes towards teachers.

In the survey of 2,000 of parents who are newly educating their children at home due to the COVID-19 outbreak , 80 percent indicated they have have newfound respect for teachers; 77% believe that teachers should be paid more; 69% believe being a teacher is harder than their current job; and 53% will take a greater interest in their child’s education after the stay-at-home mandate concludes. (VIDEO)

“We’re happy to hear so many parents saying they appreciate teachers more, and have greater respect for them,” says Jan Richards, Head of Education at educational STEAM brand Osmo, which conducted the study.

While many parents aim to balance study with play in their child’s daily regimen, the majority (68%) worry they are running out of ideas to keep their children occupied, 75% worry their child will fall behind on educational milestones, and 75% feel overwhelmed trying to balance their child’s education with their own work.

Top subjects parents want kids to continue learning during this time include math, science, history, phonics, reading, music, physical education, and art. 80% would pay to have their child utilize an educational program while at home; and 36% admit to using games on tablets/mobile devices to keep kids educated and engaged.

“The data validates the significant opportunities for STEAM companies like Osmo to keep delivering more learning content,” says Osmo CEO Pramod Sharma, whose products are used in over 30,000 U.S. classrooms and 2.5 million homes. “We’re actively working on creating more offerings.”

Osmo recently released a free, unlimited use Projector App for educators to broadcast their physical desk to students, and will soon release additional technology.

People Don’t Really Care About Celebs As Much in the Covid Era

adele shocked

adele  shocked

Suddenly…celebrities have become a lot less relevant in the age of COVID-19. If you follow this blog, you might have noticed that while it once had a heavy dose of daily celebrity news, that type of coverage has slowed to a trickle.

Writer Jade Hayden at Her.ie took a more cynical and harsh approach, writing:

The Covid-19 outbreak has changed the way we consume news.

Instead of living our lives and simply reacting when something bad happens, we are consistently waiting for the bad thing to happen…

In a not dissimilar way, people have changed the way they engage with celebrity news too. Or rather, they haven’t really been engaging with it at all.

Where we once stood impatiently waiting for the Kardashians, the royals…to give their ever relevant thoughts on world events, suddenly the uninformed opinion of a celebrity doesn’t really matter much anymore.

In the same way people criticized Sam Smith for sharing their crying during isolation video, many questioned why Ellen DeGeneres was complaining about being bored on the grounds of her $27 million home.

They roasted every single person who lent their voice to that awful Gal GadotImagine“video. They scrolled on by when Ariana Grande was Zoom-ing her management team.

Right now, nobody cares. There are more pressing things to worry about.

Suddenly, a celebrity’s two cents isn’t all that important (unless they’re donating it to charity, of course).

I wouldn’t go that far but as I wrote last December, our culture and society have already been gravitating away from the most bump obsessive news. From the nude celebrity magazine covers to the overpriced first baby covers, go check out that post HERE now! 

Breaking Down the CARES Act IRS Stimulus Rebate/Refund Checks {Video}

In a new YouTube video, I respond to a lot of myths and misunderstanding people have about the Coronavirus CARES Act IRS Stimulus Rebate/Refund Checks,

To react to the dramatic and devastating economic impact the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is having on the United States economy, the government recently created a new law called the CARES Act which, among other things, provides emergency payments, loans and grants to small businesses and individuals.

According to recent reports, the relief checks will be deposited into people’s bank accounts starting today, April 9th.

However, there is a lot of misinformation about the $2T Economic Bill, called the Cornavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, especially about the individual rebates that the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration have been tasked with getting into citizens’ hands.

Common remarks and questions I’ve seen made about the rebate/refund check I’ve seen include:

“Man, the government isnt’ sending us any money! ”

“How can they afford to pay us when we got a $16T deficit?

“I heard it’s an advance on your tax refund for next year!”

“Nothing it Free! Of course, we’re gonna have to pay it back!”

Although the $1200 refund checks are technically an advance on a 2020 tax credit, that money will NOT be deducted from your tax refund next year and in this video I explain why in my recent YouTube explainer video.

But first, I go through some basics of federal US Civics 101 and specifically go over, generally, how the US Gov gets revenue, what it does with that money, and I give a very brief walk through on how tax credits work to help people realize why it will not be deducted from future refunds.

It ends with a discussion about the fact that 17 year olds and young adult and college kids who are still supported by their parents are excluded from funding and what I think we should do to change that.

WATCH:

 

coronavirus refund check 101 pin

5 Ways to Education Your Kids About the Environment In Quarantine

hair

hair

With the state of our world today, it’s easy to give in to stress and hopelessness—especially with the ongoing pandemic. But as parents, it’s never been clearer that we all have a responsibility to raise the next generation to help make the world a better place.

Of course, it’s never easy to open up a conversation on issues like climate change and the coronavirus, but there are ways to do it without triggering unnecessary tension among your children.

That being said, here are five tips to educate your kids about the environment and how to help out.

Use technology

With most of us in self-quarantine, we can’t take our kids out or enroll them in summer camps as we please. Thankfully, there’s one resource that’s available amidst the threat of the virus: technology. YouTube has a ton of videos that can educate your kids about the environment, such as earth science and biology animations from Crash Course Kids and animal playlists from National Geographic Kids.

For something more interactive, another option is online games. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has developed a series of games that focus on the everyday issues regarding our oceans and air, such as factory leaks, pollution, and much more. Each game addresses a different real-life concern, and comes with solutions that your kids can do to make a difference.

Take them on walks

The best way to get your children to appreciate the environment is by seeing it firsthand. If your city isn’t in total lockdown, then try to go on walks every now and then. The Cut explains that not only is this safe (as long as you and your kids go alone and keep a distance), but it is even encouraged so you can get fresh air and exercise. It’s important to note, however, that this is easier said than done in certain parts of the country where going outside might get you a few glares from strangers just going to the grocery store.

But if you still have access to a park or other forms of nature, don’t let it go to waste. Of course, it helps to make your walks as comfortable and stress-free as possible. So, if you have more than one young child, look to take them out in a comfortable buggy.

The double strollers featured on iCandy are designed to let you push two children simultaneously, and can withstand most terrains—whether it’s grass or cobblestones. This way, you also don’t have to worry about them straying too far from you. For families who don’t have the option to go on nature walks, this option will have to wait—but that doesn’t mean you can’t stretch your legs in your garden and get some much needed vitamin D.

Adopt a pet

Owning pets is always a great way to teach kids a little responsibility. Unfortunately, with the current virus situation, even animal shelters are taking a hit. In a news report from Fox 13, it is reported that many shelters have been scrambling to find homes for their animals. Because until more pets are adopted, shelters are forced to limit the number of strays they can take in.

By adopting or fostering during this time, you’ll be saving lives and showing your child the importance of taking care of animals—all while giving them a new friend to weather this pandemic with.

Unleash their inner creative

Kids love art. In fact, our resident writer Jeneba Ghatt notes how art is one of the few activities that can keep your kids both educated and entertained. Coloring books are a popular option. For instance, if you want to teach them about space, NASA’s entire collection of printable coloring pages can help.

They even have pages dedicated to those involved in creating spaceships, such as scientists and engineers. Other creative things you can do include painting nature scenes or even crafting things using recycled materials. Nevertheless, it’ll definitely be an activity that both you and the kids will have fun with.

Buy local goods

Besides contributing to the local economy (which is especially important in times of crisis), buying local produce can teach your kids how to minimize their carbon footprint. Goods carried from other countries consume more fuel since they have to be delivered to the local markets, so it’s definitely not good practice to buy them all the time. Plus, local goods are always the fresher option.

A fun way to incorporate this lesson is by having them help in the kitchen. Teach them where each ingredient comes from and how they were made.

It’s easy to get swept up by the uncertainty that lies ahead, but remember that you have a part in making sure it’s a good one for everyone on the planet. The coronavirus is just one piece of the bigger environmental problem that awaits if we don’t act now. So let’s teach our kids about the environment and ensure they preserve it in the future. We need to leave it in good hands.

Chief Executive Mom Tips for Handling A Quarantined Household

family

family

From homeschooling and virtual learning to finding things to do and pass the time, the COVID-19 crisis can be especially difficult for children. What can parents do to make this challenging time easier and more manageable?

Jennifer Lopez is author of the book ‘Chief Executive Mom,’ has homeschooled four of her kids and is the founder of Assistant Pro, a concierge staffing agency that specializes in assisting families with every day, repetitive tasks.

Lopez offers advice to keep things moving as smoothly as possible and help your kids adjust in this crazy COVID-19 world:

–        Focus on block scheduling: Rather than saying, “Do it now” or “We’ll get to it later,” create a block of time when a list of tasks must be completed, including schoolwork. In fact, to add consistency and make it easier on your kids, block off the same time each day where various tasks must get done, things like school work, cleaning their rooms or going through old close.

–        Your house may get out of control… and that’s OKAY!! Accept that your home will be lived in during the day and things will become messy and chaotic. Demanding perfection will only drive you insane. Remember, this is temporary. If you find that the house is getting way out of order, stop everything and play a game together. If your kids are playing a board game with you, that means they aren’t dismantling the toy chest.

–        Be prepared and prep your food: Like clockwork, the kids will be scouring the refrigerator and pantry. Brain work is exhausting and works up an appetite. Include a “snack time” into your block scheduling, but also prepare portioned, healthy, protein rich snacks in advance for easy self-serving, and bellies that will be full, longer. Based on the age of your child, you can include them in the preparation of food. Remember to keep it fun to hold their interest.

–        Practice consistent practice: The current status of national education is temporary. When all else fails, have your kids practice what they already know for 20 minutes a day. Avoid regression and keep them sharp. Teachers will be fully prepared to teach new lessons when they are back to regular communication. What would be detrimental is if children regress.

–        Join a local/national online homeschool group: If you’ve never homeschooled before, it can be a time full of questions for parents and children. Joining a supportive community is a great resource, especially when you are jumping right in. They are a supportive online bunch and will be a good shoulder to cry on after the difficult days ahead.

–        Know when to back off with online learning: Teachers don’t hover over kids and neither should parents. It’s counterproductive to your child’s resilience. That much micro-management will decrease their motivation to continue learning. It’s a lot of pressure to have someone looking over your shoulder at your every move. It’s okay to be supportive, but know when to back off.

–        Set expectations and listen to each other: We are used to having some sense of control in the home, but kids are also used to having some sense of control over their daily interactions and how they behave in public. They may push back since they are losing that control. Listen to them when they say they have a process. It will keep your house more peaceful and your relationship in-tact rather than creating a frustrated rebel. We all have to work together in these trying times.

–        Don’t forget time for fun: These are tough times for everyone, and we can’t forget about fun. Allow your kids to spend a little time engaging with electronics. Encourage them to Facetime and text with their friends to lift their spirits and keep up social relationships. And of course, have fun as a family playing a game, going for a bike ride or any other activity you can all do together.

Good luck parents!

Brand New Parents Guide to Co-Parenting In the Age of the COVID-19 Pandemic

two parents with baby

Photo by Anastasiya Gepp from Pexels

When you have a baby, you not only have to learn how to care for your infant, you also have to learn how to work as a team with your parenting partner.

With the current COVID-19 pandemic, new moms and dads are in even closer proximity postpartum. They’re getting a crash course in navigating their relationships and in creating equity when it comes to sharing parenting responsibilities.

Dr. Whitney Casares, author of the book “The New Baby Blueprint: Caring for You and Your Little has tips on how you can successfully share the load with your partner.

Designate a soother in chief if you’re the breastfeeder in chief

If you are breastfeeding, you have a full-time job that requires rest, fluids, and patience to learn and perfect. You are the feeder in chief. You’ll do your fair share of soothing as a function of that job. But your partner should take the lead on soothing so that you can accomplish your main mission: feeding your baby.

You’re not a magician

Accept that you are not a magician and cannot develop a mom’s intuition overnight. You need your partner’s help, and (sometimes, believe it or not) partners have valid ideas! Two problem-solvers are better than one. When I learned to ask for help—especially when I was at my weakest physically and emotionally—I found others around me stepped up and, ultimately, that we became a powerful team. Never be afraid to reach out if you are struggling. There is help and hope, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.

Recognize strengths and weaknesses

Parenting is a balance of tasks and responsibilities, and one partner may have more skills or patience for some of them. Instead of evaluating or comparing contributions, figure out your partner’s parenting superpowers. All of us bring amazing things to our parenting partnerships. I see all kinds of parents in clinic—analytical types asking tons of specific questions, the research-focused contingent searching for the evidence behind pediatric recommendations, and laid-back parents letting the stresses of early parenting easily roll off their backs. We all have something we bring to the table.

Get educated together

How does one become an expert in their field? They study. If you are the only one in your family studying up on babies and parenting before or after your newborn arrives, you may feel as if you are the only one who knows anything, and you may be the only one who feels confident enough to take charge.

Everyone learns in different ways. If you learn best by reading, your partner may learn best by attending a class online or in person. Or, your partner may learn best by talking with otherswho have been through it. It probably won’t work to force your partner to learn the exact same way you do, but expect that both of you have a working knowledge of common baby issues, newborn care basics, and proven calming techniques so that you can problem-solve from the same educated perspective.

Take a giant step back

When someone doesn’t trust us or tries to manage us, it can make us feel resentful and irritated. We sometimes even lose our organic interest in the topic and stop putting our best effort into it.

That’s what happens when we don’t allow our partners to play an equal role in taking care of our children. We sabotage our hope of true co-parenting. Instead, be conscious about how to empower your other half to be the parenting boss more often. That might mean leaving the house so that your partner has the space to parent without your eagle eye. It definitely will mean holding your tongue (or sighs, or eye rolls, or judgment) if your partner is not doing things exactly how you would do them. If you both get educated together, you can be equal “experts” and this won’t be so hard.

Above all, learn to say, “I’m sorry”

You are going through one of the most significant changes in your life. So is your partner. There will be times you will implode or explode from the stress of that transition and of our current events. When you lose it, figure out whether there is something to be learned or the pot of water just got a little too hot and boiled over. Learn to say, “I’m sorry” and to consider how to make it better next time. When you and your partner act.

Reminder: Do’s and Don’ts to Survive the Coronavirus Pandemic

hear no evil

hear no evil

It’s not like you haven’t been inundated with advice and news lately but it never hurts to be OVERINFORMED and that’s why I’m sharing some Do’s and Don’ts for surviving the coronavirus pandemic from University of Arizona doctor Dr. 

Jane M. Orient:

Don’t panic. That is always good advice. If you, like the world’s economy, operate on just-in-time inventories, and did not take advice to stock up 3 weeks ago, do not join a mob at a big-box store. Somebody there is no doubt infected. Plus, there’s the risk of getting trampled or injured in a fist fight over the last roll of toilet paper. Most of the world survives without that luxury good. If you have no rice or beans or pasta in the pantry, that is more serious, but you should still avoid mobs if at all possible. Take-out and drive-through places are booming.

Don’t treat fever without a doctor’s advice. Fever is not a disease. It is an important defense mechanism. Very high fevers (say 105 degrees) can cause brain damage, and children can have seizures. But don’t pop Tylenol or ibuprofen at the first sign of fever. Many of the casualties in the 1918 pandemic might have been caused by heavy use of aspirin. Like aspirin, popular nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) such ibuprofen also have detrimental effects on blood clotting. Try lukewarm sponge baths for comfort.

Don’t rush out and get a flu shot. I know, a lot of doctors and public health authorities urge everybody to do this. Influenza can kill you, and the flu shot decreases that risk by 30% to 60%—but there is evidence that it can make COVID-19 worse, both from the earlier SARS epidemic and lab research. Like with so many things in medicine, we have to play the odds.

Don’t go to the emergency room or urgent care unless you are severely ill. There will be sick people there, and you might catch something. You also might end up with a big bill, say for a CT scan you didn’t really need. And if you have the flu or a cold or COVID-19, and don’t need IV fluids or oxygen, they can’t do anything for you. Telephone advice lines could help greatly.

Don’t go to events that are crowded, especially indoors in poorly ventilated rooms. Staying home is good.

Don’t demand to be tested and rely on the results. The tests are still in short supply and not very accurate. If you are at low risk, a positive test is likely to be a false positive. And if you are infected, the test may be negative at first. We need much more testing—mainly for public health monitoring.

Don’t waste. Expired medications are probably still good. Most drugs or essential ingredients are made in China, and supplies are running out. Masks (also mostly made in China) are meant to be disposable, but likely can’t be replaced (see below).

Don’t touch your face or your eyes. That is very hard—preventing that is one function of a mask and eye protection.

Don’t fall for internet scams, or malware. Hucksters will always be around to try to profit from panics. A new type of malicious virus is embedded malware in sites that come up on a search for information. (If you want to find the Johns Hopkins University dashboard of cases and deaths, go to the university’s website, don’t Google “coronavirus map.”)

Now for some dos:

Do prepare to take care of yourself and your family. Be sure you have a fever thermometer, disposable gloves, plastic garbage bags, and cleaning supplies. A pulse oximeter, available in many places for around $40, is good to have to check oxygen levels.

Do clean and disinfect surfaces such as doorknobs, telephones, computer keyboards, toilets, and countertops often. Virus can persist there for days.

Do remember that sunlight is the best disinfectant. If you don’t have a pocket ultraviolet lamp (they are or were available on amazon), try putting things like masks or paper currency out in the sun. The idea should be rigorously tested, but in times of need, you may have to guess.

Do wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer. With SARS-CoV-2, most disinfectants work, including 70-percent-alcohol-based sanitizers.

Do put a mask on sick people if you can. For protecting yourself you need a minimum of an N95 mask and eye protection.

Do take your vitamins. Most people may be vitamin D deficient. Your need for vitamin C escalates with infection. Some 50 tons of vitamin C was shipped to Wuhan, and studies of effectiveness are underway.

Do get your essential prescriptions refilled for 90 days—the supply chain depends on China. If your managed-care plan won’t pay, consider paying cash. You may be able to get a good price with a coupon from goodrx.com.

Do protect your immune system, with adequate sleep, exercise, fresh air, and diet, especially avoiding sugar if you feel ill.

Do help your neighbors, and be responsible about protecting others as well as yourself from contagion.

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Jane M. Orient, M.D. obtained her undergraduate degrees in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and her M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1974. She completed an internal medicine residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital and University of Arizona Affiliated Hospitals and then became an Instructor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and a staff physician at the Tucson Veterans Administration Hospital. She has been in solo private practice since 1981 and has served as Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) since 1989. She is currently president of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. She is the author of YOUR Doctor Is Not In: Healthy Skepticism about National Healthcare, and the second through fifth editions of Sapira’s Art and Science of Bedside Diagnosis published by Wolters Kluwer. She authored books for schoolchildren, Professor Klugimkopf’s Old-Fashioned English Grammar and Professor Klugimkopf’s Spelling Method, published by Robinson Books, and coauthored two novels published as Kindle books, Neomorts and Moonshine. More than 100 of her papers have been published in the scientific and popular literature on a variety of subjects including risk assessment, natural and technological hazards and nonhazards, and medical economics and ethics. She is the editor of AAPS News, the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness Newsletter, and Civil Defense Perspectives, and is the managing editor of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.