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Birth weight and early growth have been associated with later blood pressure. However, not all studies consistently find a significant reduction in blood pressure with an increase in birth weight. In addition, the relative importance of birth weight and of other lifestyle and environmental factors is often overlooked and the association is rarely studied in adolescents. We investigated early life predictors, including birth weight, of adolescent blood pressure in the Gateshead Millennium Study (GMS). The GMS is a cohort of 1029 individuals born in 1999–2000 in Gateshead in Northern England. Throughout infancy and early childhood, detailed information were collected, including birth weight and measures of height and weight. Assessments of 491 returning participants at age 12 years included measures of body mass and blood pressure. Linear regression and path analysis were used to determine predictors and their relative importance on blood pressure. Birth weight was not directly associated with blood pressure at the age of 12. However, after adjustment for contemporaneous body mass index (BMI), an inverse association of standardized birth weight on systolic blood pressure was significant. The relative importance of birth weight on later systolic blood pressure was smaller than other contemporaneous body measures (height and BMI). There was no independent association of birth weight on blood pressure seen in this adolescent population. Contemporaneous body measures have an important role to play. Lifestyle factors that influence body mass or size, such as diet and physical activity, where interventions are directed at early prevention of hypertension should be targeted.
We describe the performance of the Boolardy Engineering Test Array, the prototype for the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope. Boolardy Engineering Test Array is the first aperture synthesis radio telescope to use phased array feed technology, giving it the ability to electronically form up to nine dual-polarisation beams. We report the methods developed for forming and measuring the beams, and the adaptations that have been made to the traditional calibration and imaging procedures in order to allow BETA to function as a multi-beam aperture synthesis telescope. We describe the commissioning of the instrument and present details of Boolardy Engineering Test Array’s performance: sensitivity, beam characteristics, polarimetric properties, and image quality. We summarise the astronomical science that it has produced and draw lessons from operating Boolardy Engineering Test Array that will be relevant to the commissioning and operation of the final Australian Square Kilometre Array Path telescope.
Geological disposal facilities (GDF) are intended to isolate and contain radioactive waste within multiple protective barriers, deep underground, to ensure that no harmful quantities of radioactivity reach the surface environment. The last line of defense in a multi-barrier GDF is the geosphere, where iron is present in the host rock mineralogy as either Fe(II) or Fe(III), and in groundwater as Fe(II) under reducing conditions. The mobility of risk-driving radionuclides, including uranium and technetium, in the environment is affected significantly by their valence state. Due to its low redox potential, Fe(II) can mediate reduction of these radionuclides from their oxidized, highly mobile, soluble state to their reduced, insoluble state, preventing them from reaching the biosphere. Here a study of five types of potential host rocks, two granitoids, an andesite, a mudstone and a clay-rich carbonate, is reported. The bulk rocks and their minerals were analysed for iron content, Fe(II/III) ratio, and for the speciation and fine-grained nature of alteration product minerals that might have important controls on groundwater interaction. Total iron content varies between 0.9% in clays to 5.6% in the andesite. X-ray absorption spectroscopy reveals that Fe in the granitoids and andesite is predominantly Fe(II), and in mudstones, argillaceous limestone and terrestrial sandstone is predominantly Fe(III). The redox reactivity of the potential host rocks both in the presence and absence of Fe(II)-containing 'model' groundwater was investigated using an azo dye as a probe molecule. Reduction rates as determined by reactivity with the azo dye were correlated with the ability of the rocks to uptake Fe(II) from groundwater rather than with initial Fe(II) content. Potential GDF host rocks must be characterized in terms of mineralogy, texture, grain size and bulk geochemistry to assess how they might interact with groundwater. This study highlights the importance of redox reactivity, not just total iron and Fe(II)/(III) ratio, when considering the host rock performance as a barrier material to limit transport of radionuclides from the GDF.
A detailed understanding of the response of mineral phases to the radiation fields experienced in a geological disposal facility (GDF) is currently poorly constrained. Prolongued ion irradiation has the potential to affect both the physical integrity and oxidation state of materials and therefore may alter a structure's ability to react with radionuclides. Radiohalos (spheres of radiation damage in minerals surrounding radioactive (α-emitting) inclusions) provide useful analogues for studying long term α-particle damage accumulation. In this study, silicate minerals adjacent to Th- and U-rich monazite and zircon were probed for redox changes and long/short range disorder using microfocus X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) and high resolution X-ray diffraction (XRD) at Beamline I18, Diamond Light Source. Fe3+ → Fe2+ reduction has been demonstrated in an amphibole sample containing structural OH– groups – a trend not observed in anhydrous phases such as garnet. Coincident with the findings of Pattrick et al. (2013), the radiolytic breakdown of OH– groups is postulated to liberate Fe3+ reducing electrons. Across all samples, high point defect densities and minor lattice aberrations are apparent adjacent to the radioactive inclusion, demonstrated by micro-XRD.
This paper describes the system architecture of a newly constructed radio telescope – the Boolardy engineering test array, which is a prototype of the Australian square kilometre array pathfinder telescope. Phased array feed technology is used to form multiple simultaneous beams per antenna, providing astronomers with unprecedented survey speed. The test array described here is a six-antenna interferometer, fitted with prototype signal processing hardware capable of forming at least nine dual-polarisation beams simultaneously, allowing several square degrees to be imaged in a single pointed observation. The main purpose of the test array is to develop beamforming and wide-field calibration methods for use with the full telescope, but it will also be capable of limited early science demonstrations.
Combined microfocus XAS and XRD analysis of α-particle radiation damage haloes around thorium-containing monazite in Fe-rich biotite reveals changes in both short- and long-range order. The total α-particles flux derived from the Th and U in the monazite over 1.8 Ga was 0.022 α particles per atomic component of the monazite and this caused increasing amounts of structural damage as the monazite emitter is approached. Short-range order disruption revealed by Fe K-edge EXAFS is manifest by a high variability in Fe–Fe bond lengths and a marked decrease in coordination number. XANES examination of the Fe K-edge shows a decrease in energy of the main absorption by up to 1 eV, revealing reduction of the Fe3+ components of the biotite by interaction with the 24He2+, the result of low and thermal energy electrons produced by the cascade of electron collisions. Changes in d spacings in the XRD patterns reveal the development of polycrystallinity and new domains of damaged biotite structure with evidence of displaced atoms due to ionization interactions and nuclear collisions. The damage in biotite is considered to have been facilitated by destruction of OH groups by radiolysis and the development of Frenkel pairs causing an increase in the trioctahedral layer distances and contraction within the trioctahedral layers. The large amount of radiation damage close to the monazite can be explained by examining the electronic stopping flux.
The aim of this study was to investigate spatial variation in risk of hospitalization in childhood pneumonia and empyema in the North of England and associated risk factors. Data on childhood (0–14 years) hospital admissions with a diagnosis pneumonia or empyema were linked to postcode districts. Bayesian conditional autoregressive models were used to evaluate spatial variation and the relevance of specific spatial covariates in an area-based study using postcode as the areal unit. There was a sixfold variation in the risk of hospitalization due to pneumonia across the study region. Variation in risk was associated with material deprivation, Child Well-being Index (CWI) health domain score, number of children requiring local authority support, and distance to hospital. No significant spatial variation in risk for empyema was found.
Background: The Alberta Hip and Knee Replacement Project developed a new evidence-based clinical pathway (NCP) for total hip (THR) and knee (TKR) replacement. The aim was to facilitate the delivery of services in a timely and cost-effective manner while achieving the highest quality of care for the patient across the full continuum of care from patient referral to an orthopedic surgeon through surgery, recovery, and rehabilitation. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the study design, rationale, and execution of this project as a model for health technology assessment based on comparative effectiveness of alternative clinical pathways.
Methods: A pragmatic randomized controlled trial study design was used to evaluate the NCP compared with the standard of care (SOC) for these procedures. The pragmatic study design was selected as a rigorous approach to produce high quality evidence suitable for informing decisions between relevant interventions in real clinical practice. The NCP was evaluated in three of the nine regional health authorities (RHAs) in Alberta with dedicated central intake clinics offering multidisciplinary care teams, constituting 80 percent of THR and TKR surgeries performed annually in Alberta. Patients were identified in the offices of twenty orthopedic surgeons who routinely performed THR or TKR surgeries. Evaluation outcome measures were based on the six dimensions of the Alberta Quality Matrix for Health (AQMH): acceptability, accessibility, appropriateness, effectiveness, efficiency and safety. Data were collected prospectively through patient self-completed questionnaires at baseline and 3 and 12 months after surgery, ambulatory and inpatient chart reviews, and electronic administrative data.
Results: The trial design was successful in establishing similar groups for rigorous evaluation. Of the 4,985 patients invited to participate, 69 percent of patients consented. A total of 3,434 patients were randomized: 1,712 to SOC and 1,722 to the NCP. The baseline characteristics of patients in the two study arms, including demographics, comorbidity as measured by CDS and exposure to pain medications, and health-related quality of life, as measured by Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index and Short Form-36, were similar.
Conclusions: The Alberta Hip and Knee Replacement Project demonstrates the feasibility and advantages of applying a pragmatic randomized controlled trial to ascertain comparative effectiveness. This is a model for health technology assessment that incorporates how clinical pathways can be effectively evaluated.
In 1990, Fontan, Kirklin, and colleagues published equations for survival after the so-called “Perfect Fontan” operation. After 1988, we evolved a protocol using an internal or external polytetraflouroethylene tube of 16 to 19 millimetres diameter placed from the inferior caval vein to either the right or left pulmonary artery along with a bidirectional cava-pulmonary connection. The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that a “perfect” outcome is routinely achievable in the current era when using a standardized surgical procedure.
Between 1 January, 1988, and 12 December, 2005, 112 patients underwent the Fontan procedure using an internal or external polytetraflouroethylene tube plus a bidirectional cava-pulmonary connection, the latter usually having been constructed as a previous procedure. This constituted 45% of our overall experience in constructing the Fontan circulation between 1988 and 1996, and 96% of the experience between 1996 and 2005. Among all surviving patients, the median follow-up was 7.3 years. We calculated the expected survival for an optimal candidate, given from the initial equations, and compared this to our entire experience in constructing the Fontan circulation.
An internal tube was utilized in 61 patients, 97% of whom were operated prior to 1998, and an external tube in 51 patients, the latter accounting for 95% of all operations since 1999. At 1, 5, 10 and 15 years, survival of the entire cohort receiving polytetraflouroethylene tubes is superimposable on the curve calculated for a “perfect” outcome. Freedom from replacement or revision of the tube was 97% at 10 years.
Using a standardized operative procedure, combining a bidirectional cavopulmonary connection with a polytetraflouroethylene tube placed from the inferior caval vein to the pulmonary arteries for nearly all patients with functionally univentricular hearts, early and late survival within the “perfect” outcome as predicted by the initial equations of Fontan and Kirklin is routinely achievable in the current era. The need for late revision or replacement of the tube is rare.
Mathematical models are constructed to investigate the population dynamics of Verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) serogroups O26 and O103 in two different calf cohorts. We compare the epidemiological characteristics of these two serogroups within the same calf cohort as well as the same serogroups between the two calf cohorts. The sources of infection are quantified for both calf cohort studies. VTEC serogroups O26 and O103 mainly differ in the rate at which calves acquire infection from sources other than infected calves, while infected calves typically remain infectious for less than 1 week regardless of the serogroups. Fewer than 20% of VTEC-positive samples are the result of calf-to-calf transmission. PFGE typing data are available for VTEC-positive samples to further subdivide the serogroup data in one of the two calf cohort studies. For serogroup O26 but not O103, there is evidence for unequal environmental exposure to infection with different PFGE types.
Recursive parametric series solutions are developed for polynomial ODE systems, based on expanding the system components in series of a form studied by Weiss. Individual terms involve first-order driven linear ODE systems with variable coefficients. We consider Lotka-Volterra systems as an example.
The prenatal diet can program an individual's cardiovascular system towards later higher resting blood pressure and kidney dysfunction, but the extent to which these programmed responses are directly determined by the timing of maternal nutritional manipulation is unknown. In the present study we examined whether maternal nutrient restriction targeted over the period of maximal placental growth, i.e. days 28–80 of gestation, resulted in altered blood pressure or kidney development in the juvenile offspring. This was undertaken in 6-month-old sheep born to mothers fed control (100–150 % of the recommended metabolisable energy (ME) intake for that stage of gestation) or nutrient-restricted (NR; 50 % ME; n 6) diets between days 28 and 80 of gestation. Controls were additionally grouped according to normal (>3, n 7) or low body condition score (LBCS; <2, n 6), thereby enabling us to examine the effect of maternal body composition on later cardiovascular function. From day 80 to term (approximately 147 d) all sheep were fed to 100 % ME. Offspring were weaned at 12 weeks and pasture-reared until 6 months of age when cardiovascular function was determined. Both LBCS and NR sheep tended to have lower resting systolic (control, 85 (SE 2); LBCS, 77 (SE 3); NR, 77 (SE 3) mmHg) and diastolic blood pressure relative to controls. Total nephron count was markedly lower in both LBCS and NR relative to controls (LBCS, 59 (SE 6); NR, 56 (SE 12) %). Our data suggest that maternal body composition around conception is as important as the level of nutrient intake during early pregnancy in programming later cardiovascular health.
We investigate the epidemiology of 12 Verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) serogroups observed in a calf cohort on a Scottish beef farm. Fitting mathematical models to the observed time-course of infections reveals that there is significant calf-to-calf transmission of VTEC. Our models suggest that 40% of all detected infections are from calf-to-calf transmission and 60% from other sources. Variation in the rates at which infected animals recover from infection by different VTEC serogroups appears to be important. Two thirds of the observed VTEC serogroups are lost from infected calves within 1 day of infection, while the rest persist for more than 3 days. Our study has demonstrated that VTEC are transmissible between calves and are typically lost from infected animals in less than 1 week. We suggest that future field studies may wish to adopt a tighter sampling frame in order to detect all circulating VTEC serogroups in similar animal populations.