Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Serious side effects seen with failed Merck niacin drug: study 2013-03-09T194758Z_1_BRE9280G7_RTROPTC_0_US-HEART-NIACIN-MERCK. XML () -

Self-expanding stent shows benefit in study: Stentys

PARIS (Reuters) - Stentys <STEN.PA> said on Saturday that a study has shown its self-expanding stents for keeping blood vessels open have lower mortality rates than other conventional devices. The French medical technology firm said the study paves the way to new markets for its tiny mesh tubes - which unlike conventional stents fit into the contours of blood vessels, change shape and adapt their diameters as vessels dilate and initial clots dissolve.

Boston Scientific atrial fibrillation device proves safe: study 2013-03-09T173659Z_1_BRE9280E7_RTROPTC_0_US-HEART-WATCHMAN-BOST ONSCIENTIFIC.XML () -

Royal Caribbean cruise ship hit by virus; 108 sick 2013-03-08T214753Z_3_BRE92713X_RTROPTC_0_US-ROYALCARIBBEAN-VIRU S.XML () -

Buckle up during pregnancy: study

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Despite some women's worry that seat belts or air bags could harm a baby in utero in the case of an accident, expectant mothers who are not wearing a seatbelt during a car crash are more likely to lose the pregnancy than restrained mothers, according to a new study. The results reinforce the findings of other studies that link seat belts with better chances of keeping both mother and baby alive.

B vitamins might help some with schizophrenia

New York (Reuters Health) - Possessing one or another version of a gene key to metabolizing the B vitamin folate may make a big difference in who responds to vitamin supplements intended to treat negative symptoms of schizophrenia, according to a new study. Researchers tracked 140 people with schizophrenia for 16 weeks and found that those with the so-called high-functioning FOLH1 gene variant had a greater response to folic acid and B12 supplements, compared to those with the low-functioning FOLH1 variant.

Even for sperm, there is a season

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Autumn is the time of year most associated with bumper crops of new babies, and that may be because human sperm are generally at their healthiest in winter and early spring, according to a new study from Israel. Based on samples from more than 6,000 men treated for infertility, researchers found sperm in greater numbers, with faster swimming speeds and fewer abnormalities in semen made during the winter, with a steady decline in quality from spring onward.

Sanofi says U.S. probing Plavix disclosures to FDA

PARIS (Reuters) - The Department of Justice (DoJ) is investigating disclosures to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) about the variable response that certain patients may have to blood-thinner Plavix, Sanofi said. The French drugmaker said in its annual report it became aware of the probe in June 2012 and was cooperating with the DoJ.

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.

Jury orders J&J unit to pay $8.3 million in metal hip trial 2013-03-08T203151Z_5_BRE92711Q_RTROPTC_0_US-JJ-TRIAL-HIPS.XML () -