Health Buzz: Death Penalty for Players in China Milk Scandal and Other Health News

Autism a priority for Obama; taking antidepressants to get through the financial crisis.

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Two in China Served Death Sentences for Role in Milk Scandal

A Chinese court served two players in that country's tainted milk scandal with death sentences today for their roles in the debacle, and a third person, the highest-ranking official involved, got a life sentence. The tainted milk was linked to the deaths of at least six babies and the sickness of hundreds of thousands of others, the Associated Press reports. The situation erupted last year when it came to light that infant formula had been diluted and deliberately tainted with melamine, a toxic industrial chemical, to cut costs and mislead regulators tasked with measuring protein levels in milk, according to Reuters.

In October, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration concluded that not even a trace of melamine in infant formula could be considered a safe amount, HealthDay reported, and U.S. News's Deborah Kotz explained that our country's baby formula concerns are not as bad as China's.

Obama Deems Autism Screening a Priority

Autism tops Barack Obama's medical to-do list, U.S. News's Nancy Shute reports. The new president's website, Whitehouse.gov, launched at 12:01 p.m. Tuesday, even before the new president had taken his oath of office. Autism is the only disorder or disease mentioned explicitly in Obama's 24-point agenda, Shute notes, while heart disease and cancer don't even get spelled out. Neither does diabetes, nor any other chronic disease. But there are four bullet points addressing autism, including a call for universal screening of all infants for autism spectrum disorders, and repeat screening of all 2-year-olds.

Previously, Shute covered how a diagnosis of autism can strain a family's pocketbook and emotions, and U.S. News's Bernadine Healy has reported on the possible autism-vaccine link.

Antidepressants for Those in Financial Crisis?

Should antidepressants be used to alleviate money worries? U.S. News's Deborah Kotz tells the story of her friend, one of the many casualties of the scheme allegedly perpetrated by financier Bernard Madoff, whose sudden loss of several million dollars in life savings catapulted her into a state of anxiety so severe that her doctor prescribed the antidepressant Lexapro. However, she developed other symptoms while taking the drug and was advised by the doctor to stop taking it. Kotz explains how her friend found nonpharmaceutical ways to manage her anxiety, and she offers 5 such ways that people can cope.

Last year, Kotz discussed how to manage money-related stress, and U.S. News provided advice to parents on how to discuss money woes with children.

—Lindsay Lyon

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