International Monetary Fund program loans aimed at economic reform may improve a country's financial stability but worsen public health. A controversial study by Yale epidemiologist Sanjay Basu and his colleagues in the July issue of PLoS Medicine found that in 21 post-Communist countries in central and eastern Europe, those participating in IMF programs between 1992 and 2002 experienced increases of more than 10 percent in tuberculosis incidence, prevalence, and mortality rates -- possibly because of decreased health-care spending to meet the lenders' economic targets.


Evidence that bullying can lead victimized children to suicidal behavior is well known. But in a review of 37 studies from 13 countries, Young Shin Kim, an associate professor at the medical school's Child Study Center, and a colleague demonstrated something unexpected. The studies Kim analyzed showed not only that victims were two to nine times more likely than other children to harbor suicidal thoughts, but also that the bullies themselves had as much as a tenfold increase in suicidal behaviors. The study appeared in the April-June issue of the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health.


We all have a blind spot where the optic nerve exits the eye, but we're rarely aware of it. A corollary is "motion-induced blindness," in which a stationary object in plain sight disappears when surrounded by moving objects. In both cases, according to psychology researchers Brian J. Scholl and Joshua J. New, the process governing this phenomenon is similar: the brain perceives the blind spot or the object as irrelevant and erases it from sight. The study appears in the July issue of Psychological Science.


Smokers, and children exposed to secondhand smoke, are more likely than nonsmokers to die during influenza outbreaks and to suffer at other times from pulmonary diseases. In the August issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Jack Elias, the Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Medicine, and his colleagues shed light on the reason. They showed that infected mice exposed to cigarette smoke did not, as expected, have a decreased immune response to viruses. Rather, their immune systems overreacted, leading to inflammation and tissue damage. 

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