There are some fascinating health developments to report on this week.  Here are 3 to think about:

  • Are electronic health records going too far, too fast? There are a proliferation of new tools designed to empower patients and give them–and their doctors–easy access to all of their medical records in one place.  iChart is a program for physicians to use on their iPhone or iPod Touch devices for everything from prescription management to lab results to note-taking to billing. Google Health is a free service for patients to keep track of their medical records electronically.  But a Boston Globe article reports that the Google service is rife with errors, stemming from the programs’ inherent reliance on general health code numbers rather than physician notes specific to each patient’s case.  So the debate ensues: is electronic health record-keeping ready for prime time?
  • Female fertility may last longer than we thought. The Washington Post reports on a new study that challenges the assumption that women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. The study was conducted in China using mice, and it found that adult mammals can harbor in their ovaries “primitive cells” that can become new eggs and produce healthy offspring in the adult years.  Though there are calls to expand the study to other mammals (especially, I imagine, human beings), the findings do carry important implications for not only fertility but also stem cell research.
  • Seasonal, food allergies might be connected.  This piece on CNN reports that mysterious allergies to certain raw foods might be related to seasonal allergies to pollen, and that together, these symptoms might manifest as what’s called “oral allergy syndrome.”  The reaction–itchiness and hives in and around the mouth–is caused by the fact that the proteins in some fruits and vegetables are similar to those in pollen.  They’re similar enough to confuse the body–specifically the mouth–into thinking that pollen is being ingested.  Over-the-counter antihistamines or allergy shots can help, researchers say.

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