Health Highlights: Sept. 23, 2014

Health Highlights: Sept. 23, 2014

Health Highlights: Sept. 23, 2014

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

Infants Being Tested for TB at Texas Hospital

Tuberculosis testing has begun for more than 700 infants who had contact with a Texas hospital worker recently diagnosed with the disease, health officials say.

Babies at a nursery in the Providence Memorial Hospital of El Paso may have been exposed to TB between September 2013 and last month, when the health care worker at the hospital tested positive for TB, the Associated Press reported.

It's not clear how the employee became infected or why the worker was not tested by the hospital until Aug. 21, despite having symptoms as early as last December, El Paso Department of Public Health spokesman Armando Saldivar said.

So far, no other hospital employees have tested positive for TB, Providence Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Audrey Garcia told the AP.

The number of infants who have been brought in for TB testing was not released by health authorities.

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Health Insurance Shopping Made Easier by Healthcare.gov Redesign: Officials

A redesign of the Healthcare.gov website will make it easier for many consumers to buy health insurance, according to federal health officials.

They say that 70 percent of users will be able to use a shorter, simpler online application form to purchase coverage when the second annual open enrollment period begins in mid-November, The New York Times reported.

The shorter application has fewer pages, questions and screens to navigate, and will enable people to sign up with fewer clicks of a computer mouse, health officials said Monday.

The streamlined application is meant for people with uncomplicated household situations, but can be used only by first-time applicants, The Times reported.

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Dry-Roasted Peanuts Linked to Higher Allergy Risk: Study

Eating dry-roasted peanuts may increase the risk of developing a peanut allergy, a new study says.

Researchers at Oxford University in Britain found that an allergic reaction was more likely to occur in mice that ate dry-roasted peanuts than in those that ate raw peanuts, the Washington Post reported.

The high temperatures used in roasting caused chemical changes in peanuts, and these changes might be detected by a person's immune system, "priming" them for an allergic response, according to the study in Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The findings may help explain why peanut allergy rates in Western nations -- where dry-roasting is more common -- are higher than in East Asia, where "peanuts are more often eaten raw, boiled or fried," the researchers said.

"People with higher allergic background often have genetic dispositions to various types of allergies including to peanuts," study author Amin Moghaddam said in an e-mail to the Post. "But as [we] and others have argued, dramatic recent rises in peanut allergy and the geographical discrepancies cannot simply be attributed to a genetic background."

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