Skip to main content

On ‘Sound Medicine’: Family and Medical Leave Act turns 20, health care ratings and dementia in pets


INDIANAPOLIS — On ‘Sound Medicine’: Family and Medical Leave Act turns 20, health care ratings, and dementia in pets. Please check local listings for broadcast dates, times and stations.

“Sound Medicine” covers controversial ethics topics, breakthrough research studies and the day-to-day application of recent advancements in medicine. It’s also available via podcast and Stitcher Radio for mobile phones and iPads and posts updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Are changes abreast for the Family and Medical Leave Act? To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, “Sound Medicine” takes a closer look at the groundbreaking legislation that first addressed the delicate balance between work and everyday life. FMLA allows employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for maternity, caregiving or medical purposes. Kenneth Matos, Ph.D., who is a senior director at the Families and Work Institute, says that although the leave is designed to help individuals and families facing emergencies, it may not protect everyone. In the United States, more than 40 percent of workers do not qualify for FMLA benefits because of rigid constraints included in the act. Many part-time employees, those working for a small business or those who have worked for less than a year do not qualify. Although companies like Yahoo and Best Buy offer paid maternity leave for mothers, the United States is the only industrialized country that doesn’t require it. In response, a coalition of more than 20 states have gone above and beyond the FMLA benefits and now require paid sick days for all.

Should health insurance exchanges be regulated by the federal government? Aaron Carroll, M.D., M.S., health policy expert for “Sound Medicine,” discusses the national and local impact of health insurance exchanges. Exchanges allow people with chronic conditions, those who have been discriminated against and those who are unable to afford a private policy to purchase insurance through the government. The Affordable Care Act decided that states would control their own exchange program, but those that choose not to can participate in a blanket national exchange. States that participate in the national exchange do surrender some control to the federal government, but they also save millions of dollars. Dr. Carroll is an associate professor of pediatrics, the associate director of Children’s Health Services Research at Indiana University School of Medicine, and the director of the Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research.

Doc chat: Are boys more susceptible to autism? According to a recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, boys are five times more likely than girls to develop autism spectrum disorder, which is characterized by impaired communication and social skills in young children. The study suggests that males may be more threatened by testosterone in the womb than females. “Sound Medicine” healthy living expert Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, M.D., says that although we don’t know what causes autism, the results of this study are promising. If researchers can figure out why females are more resistant to autism, the findings could potentially lead to treatments and even a cure.

How is Consumer Reports contributing to health care? Consumer Reports has been providing fair, unbiased reviews of products and services since 1936. Most recently, Consumer Reports has provided consumers with extensive health and wellness coverage, including ratings of sunscreen and other products, information about the best cardiovascular surgeons and safety ratings of hospitals. The March cover story profiled cancer screenings and found that some tests may be unnecessary, with risks often outweighing the benefits. The director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, John Santa, Ph.D., spoke with “Sound Medicine” about their recent health and wellness coverage. Consumer Reports is participating in the “Choosing Wisely” program, which was profiled on last week’s edition of “Sound Medicine.”

Should the sun be our primary source of vitamin D? The American Association for Cancer Research recently conducted a study that found many skin cancer survivors are skimping on proper sun protection. In fact, almost a quarter of melanoma survivors are not using sunscreen on a daily basis. Dermatologist Lisa Garner, M.D., said many patients believe they can’t avoid the sun because it’s their primary source of vitamin D. According to Dr. Garner, the proper way to get vitamin D is through a balanced diet and supplements, not the sun.

Could food replace medicine? The concept of using food as a form of preventive medicine was first proposed by Hippocrates and is now being used by physicians and dietitians to study the relationship between food and health. Roy Geib, Ph.D., is a professor of microbiology at the IU School of Medicine and mind-body medicine expert. According to Dr. Geib, eating the right types of food is crucial to preventing disease. He recommends eating cost-effective super foods like vegetables, natural grains and berries. Foods high in antioxidants like blueberries and pomegranate seeds can help reduce the amount of free radicals in the bloodstream. Dr. Geib stresses that while eating preventive foods is important, the most important aspect of healthy living is balancing physical, mental and spiritual health.

Can pets get dementia? As some pets age, they may begin forgetting things, like where the door is or how to get outside. Senile dementia, most prevalent among dogs, resembles senile dementia in humans. To prevent dementia, pet owners should give animals omega 3 fatty acid supplements and encourage exercise. Elizabeth Murphy, DVM, suggests that owners give their animals a sense of purpose, like getting the paper in the morning or becoming a certified companion for nursing homes and day cares. Establishing good routines, keeping weight under control and having a sense of purpose can help prevent cognitive dysfunction.

“Sound Medicine,” co-produced by the IU School of Medicine and WFYI Public Radio (90.1 FM) and underwritten in part by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, is aired on the following Indiana public radio stations: WBSB (Anderson, 89.5 FM), WFIU (Bloomington, 103.7 FM; Columbus, 100.7 FM; Kokomo, 106.1 FM; Terre Haute, 95.1 FM), WNDY (Crawfordsville, 91.3 FM), WVPE (Elkhart/South Bend, 88.1 FM), WNIN (Evansville, 88.3 FM), WBOI (Fort Wayne, 89.1 FM), WFCI (Franklin, 89.5 FM), WBSH (Hagerstown/New Castle, 91.1 FM), WFYI (Indianapolis), WBSW (Marion, 90.9 FM), WBST (Muncie, 92.1 FM), WBSJ (Portland, 91.7 FM), WLPR (Lake County, 89.1 FM) and WBAA (West Lafayette, 101.3 FM).

“Sound Medicine” is also broadcast on these public radio stations across the country: KSKA (Anchorage, Alaska), KTNA (Talkeetna, Alaska), KUHB (Pribilof Islands, Alaska), KUAF (Fayetteville and Fort Smith, Ark.), KIDE (Hoopa Valley, Calif.), KRCC (Colorado Springs, Colo.), KEDM (Monroe, La.), WCMU (Mount Pleasant, Mich.), WCNY and WRVO-1 (Syracuse, N.Y.), KMHA (Four Bears, N.D.), WYSU (Youngstown, Ohio), KPOV (Bend, Ore.) and KEOS (College Station, Texas).