Karen Springen

Stories by Karen Springen

  • The Appendix Fights Illnesses! Seven Misunderstood Body Parts Explained.

    To survive, you need your heart, lungs, and liver. But what about your appendix, tonsils, wisdom teeth, and other parts that you normally hear about only when they're being removed. Are they just troublemakers? Not quite. “Most likely all of these were useful and all of them may still be,” says Dr. Robert Ashton, a surgeon at Montefiore Medical Center who admits that “some of them are thought to be more useful than others. ”  Still, some body parts may linger thanks to evolutionary laziness, says Dr. Udayan Shah, associate professor of otolaryngology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and chair of the medical devices and drug committee for the American Academy of Otolaryngology─Head and Neck Surgery. “If it doesn’t interfere with reproduction, it’s not going to be removed from the human gene pool.” With recent research indicating that the appendix isn't just a ticking time bomb, we got thinking: what other body parts get an undeserved bad rap, and which ones...
  • Are Gluten-Free Diets Healthier, or Is It Hype?

    Americans are spending about $2 billion a year on gluten-free products, which advocates claim can help with everything from autism to ADHD, but is the trend more about hype than health?
  • How Women Around the World Cope With Infertility

    In developing countries, where infertility is seen as a personal failing, or even a curse, a woman who can't conceive may face devastating ostracism. But there's hope for more affordable treatment.
  • The Success of the Chickenpox Vaccine

    A CDC expert on the success of the chickenpox vaccine and why every child should get a booster shot to prevent new outbreaks of the potentially serious disease.
  • Who Should Get the HPV Vaccine and When?

    The author of a new study of the HPV vaccine discusses its cost-effectiveness and the conflicting information about who should get it and when.
  • Books: Apocalyptic Lit for Kids

    Remember when children's books frolicked through tales of ponies and princes? The latest kid-lit craze is stories about living through the apocalypse—now.
  • Dogs & the Workplace: Fido on Line Two

    The dog days of summer are coming early this year: June 20 is Take Your Dog to Work Day, and thousands of companies are rolling out the welcome mat. FirstComp insurance in Omaha will offer pets a bone-shaped cake and a wading pool, while the conference room at Village Green, a property-management company in Michigan, will host a doggie masseuse. (That's massages for dogs, not by dogs.) Pets in the workplace increase "morale, productivity and camaraderie," says Andrew Field of the Montana-based company Printing ForLess.com, where every day is Take Your Dog to Work Day. Such lenient policies are surprisingly common: 17 percent of Americans say that their companies are Fido-friendly, according to a new survey.If you're among the estimated 5 percent of the population with dog allergies, though, Take Your Dog to Work Day may be a misery— a good time to Take a Personal Day. "I hate to sound negative," says Dr. Andy Nish of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, "but I...
  • Does Shunning Smokers Help Them Quit?

    How the 'pariah effect' is changing America's smoking habits, and why nonsmokers should show more compassion for the addicted.
  • Top Teen Health Hazards

    What adolescents don't know, can hurt them. The 28-year-old author of a new book on teen-parent relations offers these tips on how to talk safety with kids.
  • Kids’ Book on Plastic Surgery

    A new picture book about plastic surgery aims to explain why mom is getting a flatter tummy and a 'prettier' nose.
  • Talking with Blue Balliett

    The popular author features the work of whimsical Alexander Calder in her latest mystery for children.
  • Is Flavored Milk Healthy?

    Some parents limit the amount of sweetened chocolate or strawberry milk they give their children because it doesn't seem all that healthy—especially compared to the plain stuff. But it turns out that kids who consumed regular or flavored milk had comparable or lower body-mass-index measures compared to nonmilk drinkers, according to a new study in the current issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. "The take-home message is that limiting children and teens' access to flavored milk due to its slightly higher sugar and calorie content may only lead to the undesirable effect of reducing intakes of important nutrients while having no impact on obesity," says study coauthor Rachel Johnson, professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont."Milk seems to be a marker for a better diet. Over and over again, children who are regular milk consumers have overall better diets," says Johnson. Nonmilk drinkers "chose high-sugar beverages that are devoid of nutrients, like...
  • Kids' Violent Impulses

    A psychiatrist on why it's rare but not surprising that grammar-school kids might be capable of an elaborate plot to hurt a teacher.
  • HPV Vaccine: Why so Unpopular?

    It's been hailed as one of the most effective ways to prevent cervical cancer, but millions of young women have yet to get immunized.