Alcohol harms the brain in teen years –– before and after that, too

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

During adolescence, the brain grows and changes in crucial ways and is particularly vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. When teens and young adults drink alcohol, it can interfere with brain development processes and cause long-lasting effects.

Wondering about COVID-19 vaccines if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding?

If you are pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant, or have recently given birth and are breastfeeding, you may have questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Get informed by consulting trusted health sources, and talk with your medical providers about your options.

Executive function in children: Why it matters and how to help

Although executive function skills begin to develop in the first year of life, the time at which children reach these milestones varies. Some children experience challenges or delays related to their executive function skills, but these skills can be improved through evidence-based interventions.

Holiday jangle: Tricky conversations around COVID safety with family and friends

Justin Neiman


Many of us are facing new and challenging conversations with family and friends about travel, gatherings, and COVID safety precautions over the holidays and beyond. Here’s how to successfully communicate your own needs while still showing loved ones that you care about them.

Magnets, sound, and batteries: Choosing safe toys

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

When choosing gifts for the children in your life this year, there are toy you should consider — creativity, imagination, and movement should be encouraged — and toys you should try to avoid due to safety concerns or for other reasons.

Grandparents as scribes of the pandemic

Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW

Guest Contributor

Since children’s memories of the pandemic are likely to fade, or be forgotten entirely, grandparents have the opportunity to offer them a legacy of sorts by making the effort to record their own personal thoughts about their experiences during this time.

Gender fluidity: What it means and why support matters

Gender fluidity refers to changes over time in gender identity and gender expression. For many people, gender identity and expression develop early and stay the same; for others, one or both may change. Understanding and supporting young people exploring gender is important to their emotional and physical well-being.

College student coming home? What to know and do

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Due to the pandemic, many college students are coming home at Thanksgiving for an extended winter break. Having anyone reenter your household as COVID-19 cases rise across the US is challenging, and requires thought and planning to keep everyone safe — and sane. Here’s what families need to think about.

Defusing the “Benadryl challenge”: Discussing danger with teens

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Viral challenges encourage risky behavior in teens with potentially serious consequences. The reasons teens do things like this are rooted in the development process of the adolescent brain, and adults need to understand why such challenges appeal to teens in order to talk to them about why they aren’t safe.

Keeping your family safe this Thanksgiving

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

This year, the safest choice for celebrating Thanksgiving is to do so at home only with those you live with, yet some people are still going to want to gather. If you are considering celebrating with others, there are some things you can do to help limit COVID-related risks.