Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Sam Shepard Dead at 73
Award-winning playwright and actor Sam Shepard has died at the age of 73.
A family spokesman said Shepard died last Thursday at his home in Kentucky from complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), The New York Times reported Monday.
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rare neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells that control voluntary muscle movements such as chewing, walking, breathing and talking. The disease is progressive and always fatal, and there is no cure or treatment to halt or reverse the progression of the disease.
Shepard won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1979 and was nominated for two other Pulitzers for his Broadway plays. He also won an Academy Award for his supporting role in the movie “The Right Stuff.”
Shepard is survived by three children and two sisters, according to The Times.
Back-Seat Car Alarms Would Save Children’s Lives: Advocates
The recent deaths of two Arizona children in hot cars show the need for a proposed federal law that would require carmakers to install alarms for back seats, child advocates say.
A 7-month-old boy died Friday after being left in the car in the driveway at home, and a 1-year-old boy died Saturday after being left in a car for hours, the Associated Press reported.
A U.S. Senate bill introduced last week is supported by more than two dozen child and road safety groups. It would require cars to have technology that can alert the driver if a child is left in the back seat after the car’s engine is turned off.
“A simple sensor could save the lives of dozens of children killed tragically in overheated cars each year, and our bill would ensure such technology is available in every car sold in the United States,” bill sponsor Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, said in a statement, the AP reported. “It can take mere minutes on a hot day for a car to turn into a deathtrap for a small child.”
The bill would also improve the criminal process against caregivers involved in the deaths of children left in cars.
“The technology would help because if you’re in a vehicle, your child is in the back seat, and you ignore that alarm: Go jail. Do not pass go. You had a chance,” Janette Fennell of the advocacy group Kids and Cars, told the AP. “You talk to any of the judges, they’ll tell you, they’re beyond the hardest things they have to deal with.”
The group has examined more than 800 children who have died after being left in cars since 1990 and found that criminal cases vary greatly, even when the circumstances are identical. Ninety percent of cases are accidents, most likely a child forgotten by an adult, according to Fennell.