Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.
The shooting deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary School stirred discussions this week about mental health services and gun laws. In Pakistan, 9 health workers in a polio vaccination campaign were killed this week. The Taliban opposes the campaign but denies killing the workers. A survey released this week found that many U.S. teens don't think marijuana is dangerous. The numbers were the lowest in at least 20 years.
This Issue: Shootings Stir Debate on Mental Illness, Gun Violence 9 Polio Vaccination Workers Killed in Pakistan Survey: Teens Worry Less about Pot Safety
In the News:
Shootings Stir Debate on Mental Illness, Gun Violence
The shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School turned the nation's attention this week to mental illness, gun control and childhood trauma. Police have released few details about Adam Lanza, 20. He is the gunman who killed 27 people, including 20 children, and then himself. However, most people have assumed that Lanza was mentally ill. A blog post, titled "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother," became an Internet sensation. The posting called for better services for people with mental illness and their families. Advocates also emphasized that most people with mental illness are not violent. President Obama said he will propose gun law reforms. Several members of Congress who had opposed tighter gun control said they had changed their views and would support changes. Across the country, parents wondered how to talk to their own children about the shootings. Experts urged them to limit children's media exposure, but said most children are resilient after a trauma. They said even most of those who survived the incident will be able to cope. Research on prior school shootings has found that 10% to 25% of survivors develop long-term emotional problems. The Associated Press, Canadian Press and USA Today wrote about these issues.
9 Polio Vaccination Workers Killed in Pakistan
Nine health workers were killed this week in Pakistan. Under police guard, others pressed forward with a campaign to immunize children against polio. Taliban commanders in Pakistan have said that the campaign must stop until the United States halts drone strikes in the country. Some militants accuse these health workers of trying to sterilize Pakistani children. Opposition grew last year after it was revealed that a Pakistani doctor ran a fake vaccination program to help the CIA track down and kill Osama bin Laden. But the Taliban said it did not kill the polio workers. All the attacks occurred in northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the southern city of Karachi. Prevention efforts have reduced new polio cases 70% so far this year compared with 2011. Most of the news cases in Pakistan are in the northwest. Militants are a strong presence in that area. The Associated Press wrote about the killings.
Survey: Teens Worry Less about Pot Safety
Teens are less likely to think marijuana is harmful than at any time in the last 20 years, a new survey shows. Researchers said this means use could rise as more states legalize the drug. The National Institutes of Health conducted the annual survey. It found that 41.7% of 8th graders and 20.6% of 12th graders think that occasional use of marijuana is harmful. More teens think that regular use is dangerous – 66.9% of 8th graders and 44.1% of 12th graders. The figures for 8th graders are the lowest since 1991. That's when the government first surveyed this age group. The numbers for 12th graders are the lowest since 1979. Officials said regular marijuana use can rob teens of their potential to succeed in school and other areas. New research has found that people who used marijuana heavily before age 18 had a loss in mental abilities even after they quit. Those who kept using into adulthood showed a significant drop in IQ between ages 13 and 38. The Associated Press wrote about the survey.
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