Health Highlights: Dec. 17, 2015
Wearable Heart Defibrillator Approved for Children Turing Pharmaceuticals' Martin Shkreli Arrested on Fraud Charges Chipotle Announces More Centralized Food Preparation Later School Start Times for Teens Becoming More Common Paralyzed Vets will Receive Robotic Legs: VA
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Wearable Heart Defibrillator Approved for Children
A wearable heart defibrillator for children at risk of potentially deadly sudden cardiac arrest has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The LifeVest device is approved for certain youngsters who are at risk for sudden cardiac arrest, but can't be given implantable heart defibrillators due to medical reasons or because they're parents won't permit it.
Automated external defibrillators are available in many public places, but LifeVest is the only one that is worn by the patient and constantly monitors the wearer for abnormal, life-threatening heart rhythm problems, the FDA said.
When needed, LifeVest automatically delivers a shock to restore normal heart rhythm.
"The pediatric medical community is often forced to use adult devices off-label without appropriate labeling or instructions for use in pediatric patients," Dr. Vasum Peiris, chief medical officer of Pediatrics and Special Populations in the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in an agency news release.
"Doctors now have important information that may help them safely prescribe this life-saving device to young patients who may benefit from the device," Peiris added.
LifeVest -- made by Pittsburgh-based ZOLL Manufacturing Corp. -- weighs less than two pounds and consists of two main components: an electrode belt and garment that go around the chest, and a monitor the patient wears around the waist.
The device is meant for children who weight at least 41 pounds and have a chest size of 26 inches or more, about the size of an average 8-year-old, the FDA said.
The device was already approved for people 18 and older.
Turing Pharmaceuticals' Martin Shkreli Arrested on Fraud Charges
A drug company executive widely condemned for price gouging has been charged with fraud in an unrelated matter.
Martin Shkreli, chief executive and founder of Turing Phamarceuticals, was arrested in Manhattan Thursday morning by federal officials and charged with securities fraud in connection with his time as a hedge fund manager and head of the biopharmaceutical company Retrophin, The New York Times reported.
Federal prosecutors were expected to hold a news conference later Thursday to provide more details about the charges.
Retophin launched a lawsuit against Shkreli, who claimed the company took legal action to avoid paying him severance payments he was owed, The Times reported.
Shkreli came under fire earlier this year after Turing acquired the rights to a decades-old drug used to treat a parasitic infection and raised the price from $13.50 to $750 a pill.
Chipotle Announces More Centralized Food Preparation
In an effort to improve food safety, more preparation will be done in central kitchens before food is sent to Chipotle restaurants, the company says.
That's one of the measures introduced after a recent E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle restaurants. The specific ingredient responsible for the outbreak has not been pinpointed, but the company implemented a number of new food safety measures.
For example, the company will no longer wash and test whole tomatoes for its salsa before packaging them and sending them to its restaurants, because not all tomatoes can be tested and this process might fail to detect pathogens inside a tomato, ABC News reported.
Instead, tomatoes will be tested after they are washed and diced in centralized prep kitchens.
Also, many fresh produce items will be placed in boiling water for 3 to 5 seconds before being used in food preparation, ABC News reported.
Later School Start Times for Teens Becoming More Common
A growing number of school districts in the United States are introducing later school start times so teens can get more sleep.
Research has shown that starting classes at 8 a.m. is detrimental to teens' health and their school performance, the Associated Press reported.
Last month, the Seattle school board voted to implement an 8:45 a.m. start time next fall for all high schools and most middle schools. In recent years, 70 other school districts nationwide have adopted later start times.
Supporters of later school start times believe many more school districts will introduce later start times now that the underlying science is widely accepted and has the support of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the AP reported.
Studies show that later school start times help reduce sleep deprivation in teens, boosting their school performance, attendance, mental well-being and reducing their risk of drowsiness-related car crashes.
"We're going to look back on this time period and wonder why it took so long," Phyllis Payne, of Start School Later, told the AP.
The group assists parents groups pushing for later school start times. Forty-nine new local groups were formed in the last three years, according to Payne.
Paralyzed Vets will Receive Robotic Legs: VA
Robotic legs will be provided for paralyzed veterans with spinal cord injuries, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says.
Many of those veterans have been lobbying the VA to pay for the powered exoskeleton called the ReWalk because they can't afford the $77,000 cost, the Associated Press reported.
On Dec. 10, the VA issued a memorandum outlining its plans to train staff to provide the ReWalk to patients.
The device has leg braces with motion sensors and motorized joints that respond to upper-body movement and shifts in balance, the AP reported.
"The research support and effort to provide eligible veterans with paralysis an exoskeleton for home use is a historic move on the part of the VA because it represents a paradigm shift in the approach to rehabilitation for persons with paralysis," said Dr. Ann Spungen, leader of the VA's research on ReWalk.