Health Highlights: July 1, 2008

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:

Drug Store, Pharmacy Benefit Managers Combine Info Systems

In an effort to increase electronic prescribing by doctors, the drug store and pharmacy benefit management industries will combine their information systems, the Associated Press reported.

The union will make electronic prescribing more convenient and efficient for doctors, according to executives with the two industries.

"This merger sets aside historic economic and political differences to do what is necessary to advance paperless prescribing and the secure exchange of critical information," said John Driscoll, president for new markets at MedcoHealth Solutions Inc., the AP reported.

    • Drug Store, Pharmacy Benefit Managers Combine Info Systems
    • Babies Need Stomach Time to Develop Back and Neck Muscles
    • Watermelons Said to Boost Heart Health
    • Dogs Can Detect Ovarian Cancer: Study
    • Experimental Alzheimer's Drug Ineffective

Along with MedcoHealth Solutions, the merger will include the RxHub network, operated by CVS Caremark Corp., Express Scripts Inc., and Surescripts, which is run by the drug store industry's two main trade groups.

Last year, only about 2 percent of all medicines dispensed in the United States were prescribed electronically, according to Surescripts, the AP reported.


Babies Need Stomach Time to Develop Back and Neck Muscles

While having babies sleep on their backs reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), it can impair development of their back and neck muscles, according to U.S. experts.

When babies sleep on their backs, it means they miss out on 12 hours of time they used to get on their stomachs while sleeping. This means they don't get much-needed stretching and strengthening of their back and neck muscles, which can lead to early motor delay, according to the Pathways Awareness Medical Round Table, United Press International reported.

The round table -- a group of pediatricians, surgeons, physical therapists, nurses and researchers -- developed a set of standards for stomach time that specifies when to start, how much infants need, and the best ways to encourage the activity.

About one in 40 babies is diagnosed with early motor delay, which can range from low muscle tone to cerebral palsy. Some early motor delays are present at birth and others develop or are made worse by lack of stomach time. Physical therapy can help children with early motor delay to catch up quickly, UPI reported.


Watermelons Said to Boost Heart Health

Watermelons contain compounds that can benefit the heart and circulatory system and may even provide a Viagra-like lift to the libido, according to Texas A&M researchers.

"The more we study watermelons, the more we realize just how amazing a fruit it is in providing natural enhancers to the human body," Dr. Bhimu Patil said in a prepared statement, United Press International reported.

Patil and colleagues found that when watermelon is consumed, a phyto-nutrient called citrulline is converted into an amino acid called arginine.

"The citrulline-arginine relationship helps heart health, the immune system and may prove to be very helpful for those who suffer from obesity and type 2 diabetes," Patil said. "Arginine boosts nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels, the same basic effect that Viagra has, to treat erectile dysfunction and maybe even prevent it."

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