Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

U.S. childhood obesity fight sees some success: group

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. companies and other groups that have made attempts to reverse the nation's rising childhood obesity rate are starting to see results as more American kids exercise and have better access to healthy foods, they said on Thursday. More than 1,700 U.S. cities have promoted exercise to get nearly 3 million more kids moving in the last year, according to a report by the Partnership for a Healthier America, a nonprofit that works to get private companies and organizations to pledge specific action to fight the weight epidemic.

U.S. warns health officials to be alert for deadly new virus

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday warned state and local health officials about potential infections from a deadly virus previously unseen in humans that has now sickened 14 people and killed 8. Most of the infections have occurred in the Middle East, but a new analysis of three confirmed infections in Britain suggests the virus can pass from person to person rather than from animal to humans, the CDC said in its Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report on Thursday.

Narcolepsy link to Glaxo vaccine poses challenge for FDA 2013-03-07T223237Z_1_BRE9261D9_RTROPTC_0_US-GLAXO-NARCOLEPSY-FD A.XML () -

Less-frequent Pap smears may miss cancer precursors

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Certain types of cervical abnormalities that can lead to cancer may be missed when young women go years between Pap smears, a new study suggests. Last year, the government-backed U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said women under 21 don't need to be screened for cervical cancer and Pap smears can be done once every three years after that.

Thailand struggles to curb high teen pregnancy rate

BANGKOK (Reuters) - When Mallika told her parents she was pregnant at 17, they pulled her out of school and ordered her to marry the baby's father. But the marriage didn't happen and the one-time aspiring singer now cares for her baby girl alone. "I love her, but at the time I hid in shame," said Mallika, now 23 and a vendor of cheap, made-in-China clothing at a weekend market in Thailand's capital, Bangkok.

In Arkansas, challenges expected for nation's strictest abortion law

LITTLE ROCK, Ark (Reuters) - Abortion rights groups say they plan to challenge a new Arkansas law adopted on Wednesday that will prohibit most abortions after about 12 weeks of pregnancy and is the most restrictive abortion law in the United States. The measure, which lawmakers approved over Democratic Governor Mike Beebe's veto, prohibits abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected by a standard ultrasound.

Bayer eyes wider use for Xarelto with new trials

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Bayer <BAYGn.DE> has initiated two new late-stage studies to widen the use of its anti-blood-clotting pill Xarelto, one of its most important new drugs. The German company, which is developing the pill with U.S. peer Johnson & Johnson <JNJ.N>, said it would start a Phase III clinical trial to test Xarelto in patients with chronic heart failure and significant coronary artery disease.

Merck veteran named R&D chief, after drug setbacks 2013-03-07T212833Z_3_BRE92616B_RTROPTC_0_US-MERCK-PERLMUTTER.XM L () -

Kids on food stamps don't eat any healthier: study

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Children whose families are on food stamps are just as likely to be overweight and obese as other low-income youth, a new study suggests. Researchers found poor children tend to have diets high in processed meats, saturated fat and sugary drinks and low in whole grains and fruits and vegetables - regardless of whether they receive federal nutrition assistance.

Even in Canada, wealth influences treatment: study

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Poorer people have a harder time getting a doctor's appointment in Canada, a new study suggests - even though the country's universal health insurance pays doctors the same amount regardless of the type of patient they see. Researchers who called primary care practices pretending to be a bank employee or on welfare were 80 percent more likely to be offered an appointment when taking on the wealthier persona.