Overcoming Vaccine Anxiety: The Power of Story

This week, I took my daughter to receive the last of her early childhood vaccines. Two years ago, she was completely unvaccinated.

I was raised by parents who, after some bad experiences with conventional medicine, opted not to immunize my siblings or me, instead pursuing more “natural” healthcare options. When I became a parent myself, I was naturally (no pun intended) inclined to follow in their footsteps. But I wanted to make sure I was doing the best by my daughter. So, acknowledging, but not truly resisting my confirmation bias, I endeavored to do some research.

It wasn’t pretty. Continue reading →

Race without Racism: On Assessing Race as a Risk Factor

An interview with Yekki Song 

As part of Vital’s series on Racism in Science, we interviewed medical humanities researcher Yekki Song, a 6th year MD-PhD student at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, where she studies how society shapes and influences the practice of medicine.

We spoke with her about a newly-published paper she co-authored in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery, one that caused her to begin questioning the way in which she and her colleagues had used race as a key predictor of health outcomes 
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Can improv improve healthcare?

A review of Alan Alda’s If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?

A 2012 study conducted on behalf of Bosch home appliances found that over 40 percent of Americans admitted to having fought with a family member over the correct way to load a dishwasher. This is not one of our prouder national statistics, but according to Alan Alda, it’s one that probably shouldn’t surprise us. As he explains in his new book, “Pretty much everybody misunderstands everybody else. Maybe not all the time, and not totally, but just enough to seriously mess things up.” Continue reading →

Racism in Science?

We at Vital are excited to announce a new series, beginning soon, on Racism in Science.

It might surprise a great many people to learn what social scientists have long maintained, that race has little if any biological basis. If, as Kittles and Benn-Torres explain race has “no clear biological definition yet strong social and cultural meanings,” what does it mean today to study race in science, medicine, and health? Continue reading →

Forbidden Iron

My Uncle Brian recently tried to describe someone to my father. “He was a tall slender guy, like Michael.” Michael is me.

“Brian, when was the last time you saw Michael?”

“Maybe a year and a half ago . . . why?”

“Why?! Brian, he’s like Arnold Schwarzenegger! He’s busting out of his shirts!’”

I felt my face turn red when my father related this conversation to me. Part of me was pleased—I work hard at the gym. Another part of me, a part I keep hidden, knew I had so much further to go—and that was why I blushed, not because of the compliment. It’s that second part, the secret part, throbbing constantly under everything else, that I want to talk about. The incessant drumbeat inside me that calls out for more, that animates my endeavors at the gym. It feels like an unseemly thing I’d do best to hide. It is a desire that I have hidden, or downplayed, or dressed up in respectable guises.

Well. Time to come out of the closet.

Continue reading →

Let’s Not Blame the Milk

Breastfed infants, as opposed to formula-fed infants, are at risk for vitamin D deficiency. While this is true, it’s important not to blame the milk. Here’s why.

Breastfeeding. It’s almost scary to write anything about it. There are women who feel bad because they do not or cannot breastfeed. There are women who do so and love it. There are women who do so and hate it. There are women who barely get through six months and women who adore nursing toddlers. There are women who are defiantly pro-formula and those who feel proud to have never given their child a drop of formula. Continue reading →