Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Childbirth classes may help first-time mothers have normal deliveries

First-time mothers who take childbirth classes are more likely to have normal deliveries without interventions, a small study suggests. The study compared more than 300 women who gave birth to a first child at an Israeli medical center. Researchers found that those who took a series of classes on the experience of childbirth, pain management and postpartum issues were more likely to have normal vaginal deliveries and less likely to have vacuum extraction used during their delivery.

Xi says China faces 'grave situation' as virus death toll hits 42

President Xi Jinping said China was facing a "grave situation" as the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak jumped to 42, overshadowing celebrations of the Lunar New Year that began on Saturday. China also announced further transport restrictions.

Researchers find cancer-fighting potential in non-cancer drugs

U.S. researchers who tested the cancer-fighting properties of more than 4,500 non-cancer drugs found nearly 50 drugs for other conditions showed at least some cancer-killing ability. "We found that a surprising number of non-oncology drugs are able to kill cancer cell lines in the lab," said Dr. Steven Corsello of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, who led the research.

Breastfeeding and childbearing tied to lower odds of early menopause

Women who have babies and breastfeed may be less likely to go through menopause early than those who don't have children or nurse their infants, a U.S. study suggests. Researchers tracked 108,887 women, ages 25 to 42, who had not yet gone through menopause. Just over half had experienced at least one pregnancy lasting at least six months and more than half of these mothers exclusively breastfed their babies for at least one month.

Coronavirus patients arrived in France without symptoms

Two of the three Chinese nationals in France who have been diagnosed with the Wuhan coronavirus arrived without showing symptoms, doctors at a Paris hospital said on Saturday. On Friday, France confirmed the first three cases of the virus in Europe, with two patients hospitalized in Paris and the other in Bordeaux. The health ministry said on Saturday that no new cases have been confirmed since then but several people were being monitored.

Coronavirus worries have surgical masks flying off shelves in New York's Chinatown

Teresa Zhan, a pharmacist in Manhattan's Chinatown, had not seen protective face masks sell out in her 10 years as an employee until this week, when China's coronavirus arrived in the United States just days before Lunar New Year celebrations. More than a dozen pharmacies in the tiny district had run out of face masks or only had a few left on Friday. Pharmacists said hundreds of locals had rushed to buy masks for protection from the newly discovered coronavirus that has killed 26 people in China and infected at least 800 others, including a case in Chicago and another near Seattle.

Trump administration says California can't require insurers to cover abortion

The Trump administration said on Friday that California cannot require health insurers to cover abortions and threatened to cut some federal healthcare funds unless it pulls that requirement. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a notice that the state is violating a federal law called the Weldon Amendment. The notice of violation comes as the result of an investigation by HHS' Office for Civil Rights.

Novartis, GBT sickle cell drugs too expensive, draft U.S. report says

Sickle cell disease drugs made by Novartis and Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT) may not be cost effective at current prices, a draft report published on Friday suggested, widening the debate over U.S. healthcare affordability. Novartis and GBT disputed the preliminary conclusions by the

Bayer Roundup cancer trial postponed to continue settlement talks

Bayer AG said on Friday it has reached an agreement with plaintiffs' lawyers to postpone a Missouri jury trial over allegations its popular weed killer Roundup causes cancer to provide room for negotiations to settle the litigation. "While Bayer is constructively engaged in the mediation process, there is no comprehensive agreement at this time. There also is no certainty or timetable for a comprehensive resolution," the company said in a statement in reference to the settlement talks.

With Wuhan virus genetic code in hand, scientists begin work on a vaccine

When a newly organized vaccine research group at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) met for the first time this week, its members had expected to be able to ease into their work. But their mandate is to conduct human trials for emerging health threats - and their first assignment came at shocking speed. In just three months time, they likely will be testing the first of a number of potential experimental vaccines against the new SARS-like coronavirus that is spreading in China and beyond.