Reporting on health and quality of life in South LA

Health care reform doubts and what obesity could mean for asthma: In health news today

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In today's health news:

Public health officials are working to contain an outbreak of tuberculosis in downtown's Skid Row, reports the Los Angeles Times, and say more than 4,500 people may have been exposed to the potentially lethal infection. Federal health experts have been sent to L.A. to help with the investigation.

It's been a while – thankfully – since TB's been in the news, so if you need to brush up, KPCC has a FAQ with everything you need to know. One factoid: Coughing up sputum, a mixture of saliva and mucus, is a sign of infection.

Obesity is associated with plenty of adverse health outcomes, and HealthDay reports on one more: A new study says overweight Latino and black children – even those who have just a few extra pounds – may be at risk for poorer lung function. Researchers said this wasn't the case in white children, and added that may have to do with the distribution of body fat in these minority groups. The findings could help explain the greater prevalence of asthma among black and Latino children.

A new poll suggests that the patients who will benefit most from health care reform are also the legislation's biggest skeptics. The Washington Post summarizes a few findings: Low- and middle-income Americans don't have positive views about shopping for health insurance; 72 percent don't know about the new health law provisions; and at first glance, only 37 percent believe insurance under the new plan will actually be affordable.

Research presented Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (press release) says race and (potentially) genetics play a role in whether a child is likely to develop allergies. The study's authors said they found that black children were sensitive to at least one food allergen three times more often than their white counterparts.

And finally: HealthDay reports that according to experts, patience and compassion can be some of the best medicine when interacting with people with Alzheimer's disease. "You have to put yourself in their shoes," said one caregiver.

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