Health Highlights: Jan. 21, 201101/21/11
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
FDA Proposes Tougher Safety Measures for External
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is recommending tougher
safety rules for external defibrillators, which are designed to
shock back to normal the hearts of people who collapse with cardiac
arrest, according to the
The agency's proposal -- posted online Friday -- follows years
of reported problems with the emergency medical devices, which are
widespread in schools, hospitals, airports and other public places.
Device makers have issued 68 recalls of defibrillators in the last
five years, and the agency has received 23,000 reports of
malfunctioning devices, including some that failed during rescue
attempts, the news service said.
Under the proposed measures, makers of external defibrillators
would have to submit to regular inspections and turn in more
clinical data before launching a new product.
The changes would not apply to implantable defibrillators, which
function more like pacemakers and are designed for patients who
suffer from abnormal heart rhythms that could lead to cardiac
House Republicans Outline Health-Care Objectives
Following up on this week's vote to repeal the new U.S.
health-care law, House Republicans plan to pass bills that include
some of the same measures as the current law, but with more limits
on the use of federal power.
On Thursday, the Republican-controlled House voted 253 to 175 to
direct four committees to draft legislation to replace the
Democrats' health-care law, signed by President Barack Obama last
March. The GOP directive outlines 13 objectives, including lowering
health-care premiums through increased competition and choice,
providing access to affordable coverage for people with
pre-existing health conditions, increasing the number of people
with insurance, and giving states greater flexibility to operate
their Medicaid programs,
The New York Times reported.
House Republicans also want stricter limits on abortion in
federal programs, including those created by the new law.
Republicans did not outline how they plan to achieve their
health-care objectives, but emphasized that they do not want to
force individuals, families, employers or states to be burdened
with detailed federal requirements, the
On the House floor Thursday, Democrats said it was strange to
hear Republicans advocating consumer protections that are contained
in a law they just voted to repeal.
Democrats who control the Senate say they'll block any effort to
repeal the health-care law and Obama has vowed to use his veto
power. But Obama did say this week that he was "willing and eager"
to work with lawmakers from both parties to improve the current
Under the law, federal money is being offered to states to help
them create health insurance exchanges.
"Begining in 2014, these marketplaces will allow individuals and small business owners to pool their purchasing power so the mom-and-pop shop can have the same negotiating clout as the big chain down the street," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
She said a number of states have started work to establish
exchanges and it "would be a huge mistake to undo this progress" by
repealing the new law, the
World Leaders to Discuss Junk Food Ads
Efforts to reduce junk food marketing to children will be on the
agenda when world leaders gather at the U.N. General Assembly in
New York City in September, the World Health Organization says.
The agency said the heads of state will discuss how to limit the
number and types of ads that children are exposed to, the
Associated Press reported.
It's expected that voluntary rules meant to control junk food
advertising will eventually evolve into laws that ban such
marketing, similar to what has occurred with tobacco, Bjorn-Inge
Larsen of the Norwegian Directorate of Health told reporters
About 43 million preschool children worldwide are overweight or
obese, according to the WHO, the
FDA Reports Post-Flu Vaccine Seizures in Young Children
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday said it was
investigating an apparent increase in fever-related seizures in
young children after they got a flu shot.
The agency said there have been 36 reported seizures this flu
season in children ages 6 months through 2 years. All the seizures
happened within a day after the youngsters got a vaccine called
Fluzone, which is made specifically for younger children, the
Associated Press reported.
Ten of the children were hospitalized, but all recovered. The
flu shot manufacturer said there's no obvious link between the
vaccine and the seizures, and they may have been coincidental, the
Woman Regains Speech After Larynx Transplant
A 52-year-old California woman can speak again after undergoing
the world's second successful larynx transplant, say her
Brenda Charett Jensen's transplant last October was led by
doctors at the University of California, Davis Medical Center and
included experts from England and Sweden, the
Associated Press reported.
During the procedure, surgeons gave her a new voice box,
windpipe and thyroid gland that came from a donor who died in an
accident. The operation lasted 18 hours over two days.
Jensen began speaking two weeks after the transplant and her
ability to speak has become easier since then. Her vocal cords were
damaged more than a decade ago after she repeatedly yanked out her
breathing tube while under sedation in the hospital, the
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