New preschool for poor children
A new "open preschool" for poor children with parents who are European Union members is supposed to decrease the begging in Göteborg, according to an article in Metro. In a report by Räddningsmissionen (the Rescue Mission), there are some 15 children under school age who have nothing to do during the day but come with their parents to collect bottles or beg, or who are taken care of by older relatives. “These children may receive food and clothes and the attention of someone who makes sure they are doing OK. It’s an idea worth trying,” says municipal commissioner Dario Espiga (of the Social Democrats).

Children take more untested medications
Swedish children are given more untested medications than in the past, primarily the sleep aid melatonin, according to daily Svenska Dagbladet. In total, the prescription of sleep aids for children has increased 170 percent in six years, according to statistics from Statistics Sweden. The use of sedatives, antidepressants and neuroleptics has also increased. Drugs used to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) have increased 178 percent since 2006.

Trains in north canceled throughout January
The cold winter in Sweden has led to major train disruptions, especially in the northern parts of the country. Norrtåg canceled 13 trains in one week alone and is now saying they’ll cancel all train traffic between Luleå and Umeå for the rest of January. The reason is lack of trains, since many trains are suffering problems and technical issues due to the snow and cold. “We are very disappointed and feel frustrated and are working to get this resolved,” says Maria Höglander, managing director for Norrtåg. Norrtåg has some ten sets of trains of the Alstom model Coradia Nordic X62, which, according to specifications, had been tested to handle the Swedish winter. However, the trains didn’t live up to expectations. “These trains are far from paid in full by us, there are major parts missing. The supplier has received some of the money and won’t get any more until the trains have been rebuilt to be able to handle the traffic,” says Höglander. Botniatåg, the company, which handles the train traffic for Norrtåg, loses a lot of money with the trains not functioning.

Lars Werner has passed away
Former leader of Sweden's Left Party, Lars Werner, died at the age of 77, after suffering from heart problems. A construction worker by profession, Werner was born in Stockholm in 1935. In 1975, he was elected chairman of the Swedish Left Party-Communists (VPK). During his time as party leader, in 1990, the party changed its name to the Left Party, removing the term "Communists." He resigned in 1993 and was succeeded by Gudrun Schyman.

High values of heavy metals in cereal
New laboratory analyses show there are still high levels of heavy metals in cereals and porridge for babies. So much, in fact, that three daily portions would be enough for the lead values to affect brain development. Two years ago Swedish researchers sounded the alarm about high values of toxins, including arsenic, cadmium and lead in baby food products. Still, the problem remains. “Some of the products have inappropriately high levels,” says Lars Barregård, professor of environmental medicine and a physician at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. First and foremost, he is concerned over the levels of lead in the dairy-free porridge and apple cereal from EnaGo. In studies on children, researchers found a lower IQ even when there have been moderate levels of lead. For a child weighing 8 kilos (18 pounds), it’s enough to consume three portions daily of the cereal from EnaGo in order to raise the lead levels high enough for the brain’s development to be disrupted.

Drugs without getting caught
Many addicts can go for treatment while still using drugs, since many common tests only detect traditional drugs, according to professor Anders Helander of Karolinska Institutet in Huddinge. In spite of the growing trend to abuse so-called Internet drugs, health care professionals and police continue to test for traditional narcotics. Helander is working on designing tests of these new drugs, and he lectures around Sweden. “The greatest obstacle is lack of knowledge,” he says. “A lack of knowledge of substances and how common they are.” A study done at Beroendecentrum in Stockholm reveals that about 50 percent of the drugs aren't discovered if traditional drugs are all that are being investigated. Abuse of the so-called Internet drugs, chemical drugs that have been developed to give effects similar to traditional drugs, are getting more common in all of Europe. “What we see is that many young people use these drugs, and it’s important that they test for them in young people’s health clinics,” warns Helander. But even more established drug addicts use these substances just because they fly under the radar in regular drug tests. “It’s relatively easy to take drugs without the risk of being discovered in a drug test,” Helander concludes.