Health Highlights: July 12, 2017

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Potential First U.S. Gene Therapy Now Under FDA Review

The potential first gene therapy in the United States is being reviewed by a Food and Drug Administration expert panel.

At the Wednesday meeting, the panel will assess the safety, effectiveness and production of the one-time treatment for children and young adults with advanced leukemia, the Associated Press reported.

The treatment was developed by the University of Pennsylvania and Novartis Corp and is called CAR-T. It involves removing immune cells from a patients' blood, reprogramming them to attack leukemia cells and putting them back into the patient.

After reviewing the data, the panel will vote on whether to recommend FDA approval, the AP reported.

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'Blue Whale' Online Game Responsible for Teen's Suicide: Family

A 15-year-old San Antonio boy committed suicide after receiving an Internet challenge, according to his family.

They said Isaiah Gonzalez was a victim of an online fad called the Blue Whale Challenge, a social media group that encourages teens to harm themselves and even commit suicide, WOAI San Antonio reported.

Isaiah was found early Saturday morning after he committed suicide. His family is urging parents to closely monitor their children's social media use.

After joining the Blue Whale Challenge, members are assigned daily tasks for 50 days. The tasks become progressively more extreme and dangerous. If the tasks are not completed, those controlling the challenge send threats, Isaiah's older sister Alexis told WOAI San Antonio.

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Child Measles Deaths in Europe an 'Unacceptable Tragedy': WHO

The measles deaths of 35 children in Europe over the last year is an "unacceptable tragedy" because it is a vaccine preventable disease, the World Health Organization says.

That death toll has increased nearly threefold since 2016, when 13 children in Europe died from measles. In 2015, there were three deaths, CBS News/Associated Press reported.

There have been more than 3,300 cases and two deaths in Italy since last June, and there have been 31 deaths in Romania.

Measles cases in the United States have also increased this year, with 108 reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of mid-June. In 2016, there were 70 cases, CBS/AP reported.

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Many American Children Face Chronic Stress That Can Affect the Brain

Chronic stress can cause brain changes in young children that can hamper learning and cause disease in adulthood, research suggests.

Experts say many American children live in situations that put them at risk, the Associated Press reported.

More than 1 in 4 suffer a serious traumatic event by the age of 16, such as abuse, neglect and household or neighborhood violence, according to the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress.

More than 1 in 5 have been through at least two traumatic events and are at increased risk for school, health and behavioral problems, a 2014 study found, the AP reported.

Nearly half of children under age 18 live in homes at or near the poverty level, according to U.S. Census data.

A rise in the number of children in foster care since 2011 brought the total to nearly 430,000 in 2015, the most recent government statistics reveal. Neglect and drug abuse are the leading reasons for the increase, according to a 2016 government study, the AP reported.

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FDA Proposal Would Ease Oversight of Medical Device Makers

Consumer advocates oppose a U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposal to allow medical device makers to delay reporting dangerous malfunctions.

Under an agreement heading for a vote in Congress, companies will still have to quickly report any injuries or deaths related to products such as heart defibrillators, insulin pumps and breast implants. But they would have more time to report on devices that may not be working properly and could cause injury, The New York Times reported.

But critics of the proposal say easing oversight on medical device makers is not a good idea because so many problems already go undetected.

"It often takes months or even years for the FDA to detect patterns of failure," said Jack Mitchell, director of health policy for the National Center for Health Research in Washington, The Times reported.

"Post-market surveillance of medical devices continues to be dangerously slow and clearly inadequate to protect patients from risky devices," he added.

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