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Health Highlights: Sept. 22, 2014

Dry-Roasted Peanuts Linked to Higher Allergy Risk: Study Possible TB Exposure for Hundreds of Infants at Texas Hospital

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

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."


Possible TB Exposure for Hundreds of Infants at Texas Hospital

More than 700 babies may have been exposed to tuberculosis at a Texas hospital over the past year.

An employee at Providence Memorial Hospital in El Paso was diagnosed with TB on Aug. 25 and may have exposed infants and about 40 other hospital staff members since September 2013, said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, the health authority for El Paso County, the Associated Press reported.

Officials are waiting for the results of TB tests on hospital workers, and the hospital is offering free screenings for infants who may have been exposed to the disease.

"This is an incredibly large exposure investigation, and it involves infants, so it is particularly sensitive," said Carrie Williams, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, the AP reported. "Babies are more likely than older children and adults to develop life-threatening forms of TB."

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