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Maternal systemic inflammation during pregnancy may restrict embryo−fetal growth, but the extent of this effect remains poorly established in undernourished populations. In a cohort of 653 maternal−newborn dyads participating in a multi-armed, micronutrient supplementation trial in southern Nepal, we investigated associations between maternal inflammation, assessed by serum α1-acid glycoprotein and C-reactive protein, in the first and third trimesters of pregnancy, and newborn weight, length and head and chest circumferences. Median (IQR) maternal concentrations in α1-acid glycoprotein and C-reactive protein in the first and third trimesters were 0.65 (0.53–0.76) and 0.40 (0.33–0.50) g/l, and 0.56 (0.25–1.54) and 1.07 (0.43–2.32) mg/l, respectively. α1-acid glycoprotein was inversely associated with birth size: weight, length, head circumference and chest circumference were lower by 116 g (P = 2.3 × 10−6), and 0.45 (P = 3.1 × 10−5), 0.18 (P = 0.0191) and 0.48 (P = 1.7 × 10−7) cm, respectively, per 50% increase in α1-acid glycoprotein averaged across both trimesters. Adjustment for maternal age, parity, gestational age, nutritional and socio-economic status and daily micronutrient supplementation failed to alter any association. Serum C-reactive protein concentration was largely unassociated with newborn size. In rural Nepal, birth size was inversely associated with low-grade, chronic inflammation during pregnancy as indicated by serum α1-acid glycoprotein.
Body weight is a major risk determinant of frailty, but the effect of obesity on frailty is controversial. The present study aimed to confirm the hypothesis that the risk of frailty is positively associated with obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2), but the association is mediated by the waist:height ratio (WHtR) in older women and men. A total of 2862 community-dwelling older individuals aged 70–84 years were assessed for frailty using the Korean version of Fatigue, Resistance, Ambulation, Illnesses, and Loss of weight index. Obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) was associated with a higher risk of frailty compared with BMI 18·5–<23 kg/m2 in all the older individuals (OR 1·88; 95 % CI 1·11, 3·17; P = 0·018) and in older women (OR 1·86; 95 % CI 1·01, 3·42; P = 0·047) before adjusting for WHtR but was not associated with BMI after adjusting for WHtR. Additionally, obesity was not significantly associated with the risk of frailty before and after adjusting for WHtR in older men. Mediation analysis revealed that the association between BMI and frailty score was mediated by WHtR. Moreover, the mediating effect of WHtR on frailty score was positive in both women and men, but the frailty score was associated with BMI positively in women and negatively in men. The present study suggests that the risk of frailty is higher in obese women, which is mediated by WHtR, but not in obese men.
Timely access to innovative medical technologies driven by accelerated patient access pathways can substantially improve the health outcomes of patients who often have few therapeutic alternatives. We analyzed lead-times for the medical procedure reimbursement coverage process undertaken in South Korea from 2014 to 2017, which is considered one of the most important factors contributing to delays in patient access to new medical technologies.
This analysis was performed using the open datasets source of “Medical Procedure Expert Evaluation Committee (MPEEC)” meeting results and medical procedure coverage application information published on the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service Web site.
From 2014 to 2017, 90 percent of all new coverage determinations took on average >250 days with almost 20 percent taking more than 2 years (>750 days), The average lead-time from the medical procedure coverage application to MPEEC meeting in 2015 was 435.0 ± 214.7 days (n = 26), which was significantly shorter than the average lead-time in 2014 (624.9 ± 290.3 days, n = 16) (p < .05). The average lead-time from application to official enforcement in 2015 was significantly shorter than that of 2014 (540.8 ± 217.4; n = 16 versus 734.1 ± 299.7 days; n = 26, respectively) (p < .05).
While this analysis showed a general trend of a reduction in the time taken to receive a positive coverage determination for a new medical technology, the average lead-time remains well over the government mandated 100 days. To continue this trend and further enhance the patient access pathway for medical procedure coverage determinations, some measures can be applied. In particular, the extended “One-Stop Service” program encompassing coverage determinations is one such recommendation that could be considered.
Self-poisoning using pesticides is among the major methods of suicide worldwide, and accounts for one-fifth of suicides in 2006–2010 in South Korea. We investigated long-term trends in pesticide suicide rates in South Korea and factors related to these trends.
We calculated age-standardised rates of pesticide suicide in South Korea (1983–2014) using registered death data. We used graphical approach and joinpoint regression analysis to examine secular trends in pesticide suicide by sex, age and area, and a time-series analysis to investigate association of pesticide suicide rate with socioeconomic and agriculture-related factors. Age, period and cohort effects were examined using the intrinsic estimator method.
Age-standardised rate of pesticide suicide fluctuated between 1983 and 2000 before it markedly increased in 2000–2003 (annual percent change 29.7%), followed by a gradual fall (annual percent change −6.3%) in 2003–2011. Following the paraquat ban (2011–2012), there was a marked reduction (annual percent change −28.2%) in 2011–2014. Trend in pesticide suicide was associated with divorce rate but not with other factors studied. Declines in pesticide suicide in 2003–2011 were most noticeable in younger groups and metropolises; by contrast, elderly adults aged 70+ living in rural areas showed an upward trend until after the 2011–2012 paraquat ban, when it turned downward. In the age–period–cohort modelling, having been born between 1938 and 1947 was associated with higher pesticide suicide rates.
Pesticide suicide trend changed substantially in South Korea over the last three decades. Effective prevention should include close monitoring of trends and strong regulations of toxic pesticides.
In order to improve research planning it is critical to understand how decision makers have used previous health technology assessment (HTA) results, and what expectations policy makers and health professionals have in HTA programs. In this study, we aimed to examine how HTA results have been used by decision makers, and explore complex relationships between the National Evidence-based Healthcare Collaborating Agency (NECA) and various decision-making bodies in Korea.
Three areas of healthcare decision in which NECA has been extensively involved were selected: prevention programs, single technology reimbursement, and clinical guidelines. We conducted in-depth interviews with two or three key informants from decision making bodies in each selected area. The interview participants included clinicians and government officials. We also conducted interviews with the researchers who participated in the related research to better capture the context. The interviews were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.
Eight interviews with decision makers and five interviews with researchers were conducted and analyzed. Three main themes were revealed in the data. Firstly, it was revealed that NECA was primarily expected to be an intermediary between clinicians and government. Both government and clinicians had referred to NECA's HTA results, which are expected to be scientific and impartial, when they need to reach one another on controversial topics. Secondly, there was a high need for deliberative process to resolve the conflicting interests regarding HTA results. Lastly, they wanted the HTA process to be more responsive to fast changing healthcare environments by introducing a form of rapid review.
Lack of effective communication channels between government and healthcare providers in Korea has made a room for HTA to be a common language for both sides. It is time to give up the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to conducting HTA research and tailor the research process to various needs of decision makers.
Since established in 2009, the National Evidence-based healthcare Collaborating Agency (NECA) has been the sole government-funded Health Technology Assessment (HTA) institution in Korea, yet little effort has been made to systematically evaluate the influence of its products. In this study, we aimed to measure the impact of the HTA products of NECA on clinical and policy decisions by introducing a systematic framework.
We included HTA reports published from 2009 to 2015. Among the 141 research reports published during this period, there were 67 HTA reports. We gathered data on the influence by literature and news article search, review of administrative documents and directly listening to the decision makers. The influence was categorized into three decision types: changes in clinical guidelines, administrative decision on investment/disinvestment and healthcare policy making. Whether a research report was used directly in decision making, or followed by subsequent researches or round-table conference, was recorded to examine the knowledge transfer process.
In total, 67.2 percent of the included HTA reports were used to support clinical and policy decisions. Twenty-seven reports had influenced administrative decisions on investment/disinvestment. Ten provided evidence for new health policies or legislation. Eight were reflected in clinical guidelines. The impact of HTA reports published by NECA was more evident when the research was directly requested by decision-making bodies such as government institutions. Although most HTA reports were conducted in collaboration with clinicians, the use of results by clinicians was limited. Definitive results were more likely to be used, but reports with competing interests had fewer impacts.
HTA by NECA had impacts on the rational use of healthcare resources in Korea, and NECA has established its role as an intermediary between governmental decision-making bodies and clinicians. However, more continuous approaches rather than one-time HTA research are needed for HTA on controversial topics to have impacts on decision making.
We investigated potential nosocomial aerosol transmission of severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus (SFTSV) with droplet precautions. During aerosol generating procedures, SFTSV was be transmitted from person to person through aerosols. Thus, airborne precautions should be added to standard precautions to avoid direct contact and droplet transmission.
Understanding alternatives to prominent information contributes to successful native language discourse comprehension. Several past studies have suggested that the way second language (L2) learners encode and represent an alternative set in L2 speech is not exactly native-like. However, because these studies involved contrastive pitch accents in running speech, these native language–second language differences may reflect the demands of comprehending running speech in L2 rather than intrinsic deficit in discourse processing per se. Here, we tested L2 learners’ discourse encoding and representation using a different cue to prominence: font emphasis in self-paced reading. We found that, in this temporally less demanding modality, L2 learners’ encoding of salient alternatives became native-like. Font emphasis facilitated L2 learners’ memory for the discourse by ruling out salient alternatives, just as how it facilitates native speakers’. L2 learners were also similar to native speakers in using the situation model to constrain an alternative set. The results suggest that L2 learners can show native-like processing of prominence and that previous underuse of contrastive accents in L2 comprehension could reflect cognitive demands of processing running speech in L2.
Firefighters are routinely exposed to various traumatic events and often experience a range of trauma-related symptoms. Although these repeated traumatic exposures rarely progress to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder, firefighters are still considered to be a vulnerable population with regard to trauma.
To investigate how the human brain responds to or compensates for the repeated experience of traumatic stress.
We included 98 healthy firefighters with repeated traumatic experiences but without any diagnosis of mental illness and 98 non-firefighter healthy individuals without any history of trauma. Functional connectivity within the fear circuitry, which consists of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, insula, amygdala, hippocampus and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), was examined using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. Trauma-related symptoms were evaluated using the Impact of Event Scale – Revised.
The firefighter group had greater functional connectivity between the insula and several regions of the fear circuitry including the bilateral amygdalae, bilateral hippocampi and vmPFC as compared with healthy individuals. In the firefighter group, stronger insula–amygdala connectivity was associated with greater severity of trauma-related symptoms (β = 0.36, P = 0.005), whereas higher insula–vmPFC connectivity was related to milder symptoms in response to repeated trauma (β = −0.28, P = 0.01).
The current findings suggest an active involvement of insular functional connectivity in response to repeated traumatic stress. Functional connectivity of the insula in relation to the amygdala and vmPFC may be potential pathways that underlie the risk for and resilience to repeated traumatic stress, respectively.
People who eat alone, which is becoming a new trend owing to the increasing proportion of one-person households in Korea, are more likely to become overweight and obese. Therefore, we investigated the association between having a dinner companion and BMI.
A linear regression model adjusted for covariates was utilized to examine the association between having a dinner companion and BMI. Subgroup analyses were performed, stratified by age group, gender, household income, educational level and occupation.
We used the data from the Korean Health and Nutrition Examination Survey VI. Our primary independent variable was having a dinner companion while the dependent variable was BMI.
In total, 13303 individuals, aged 20 years or over, were analysed.
Compared with the solo eating group, BMI was lower in the family dinner group (β=−0·39, P<0·01) but not in the non-family dinner group (β=−0·06, P=0·67). The subgroup analysis revealed that the difference in BMI was most significant in young generations, such as those aged 20–29 years (β=−1·15, P<0·01) and 30–39 years (β=−0·78, P=0·01).
We found that people who eat dinner alone are more likely to become overweight and obese than those who eat with their family. This association was stronger in males and young adults than their counterparts. Considering the increasing trends in the proportion of single-person households and solo eating, appropriate intervention is needed.
This study examined whether L1-Mandarin learners of L2-English use verb bias and complementizer cues to process temporarily ambiguous English sentences the same way native speakers do. SVO word order places verbs early in sentences in both languages, allowing the use of verb-based knowledge to anticipate what could follow. The two languages differ, however, in whether an optional complementizer signals embedded clauses. In a self-paced reading experiment, native English speakers and L1-Mandarin learners of L2-English read sentences containing temporary ambiguity about whether a noun was the direct object of the verb preceding it or the subject of an embedded clause. Native speakers replicated previous work showing an optimally efficient interactive pattern of cue use, while non-native learners showed additive effects of the two cues, consistent with predictions of the Competition Model about learning how to use multiple cues in a second language that sometimes agree and sometimes do not.
The present study aimed to estimate heritability of Hwabyung (HB) symptoms in adolescent and young adult twins in South Korea. The sample included 1,601 twins consisting of 143 pairs of monozygotic male (MZM), 67 pairs of dizygotic male (DZM), 295 pairs of monozygotic female (MZF), 114 pairs of dizygotic female (DZF), and 117 pairs of opposite-sex dizygotic (OSDZ) twins and 129 twins with non-participating co-twins (mean age = 19.1 ± 3.1 years; range: 12–29 years). An HB symptom questionnaire was given to twins via a telephone interview. Consistent with the literature of HB, the mean level of HB was significantly higher in females than in males. Maximum likelihood twin correlations for HB were 0.31 (95% CI [0.16, 0.45]) for MZM, 0.19 (95% CI [-0.05, 0.41]) for DZM, 0.50 (95% CI [0.41, 0.58]) for MZF, 0.28 (95% CI [0.11, 0.44]) for DZF, and 0.23 (95% CI [0.05, 0.40]) for OSDZ twins. These patterns of twin correlations suggested the presence of additive genetic influences on HB. Model-fitting analysis showed that additive genetic and individual-specific environmental influences on HB were 44% (95% CI [37, 51]) and 56% (95% CI [49, 63]), respectively. Shared environmental influences were not significant. These parameter estimates were not significantly different between two sexes, and did not change significantly with age in the present sample, suggesting that genetic and environmental influences on HB in both sexes are stable across adolescence and young adulthood.
An index of biomarkers derived from dietary factors (diet–biomarker-related index) identifies foods and nutrients that encompass physiological potentials and provides scientific evidence for dietary patterns that increase the risk of disease associated with specific biomarkers. Although men and women have different dietary patterns and physiological characteristics, sex is not often considered when investigators develop a diet–biomarker-related index. We aimed to review whether epidemiological studies developed diet–biomarker-related indices in a sex-specific way.
We systematically searched for epidemiological studies that developed diet–biomarker-related indices, including (i) biomarker prediction indices that include dietary factors as explanatory variables and (ii) dietary patterns to explain biomarker variations, in the PubMed and EMBASE databases. We qualitatively reviewed the sex consideration in index development.
We identified seventy-nine studies that developed a diet–biomarker-related index. We found that fifty-four studies included both men and women. Of these fifty-four studies, twenty-nine (53·7 %) did not consider sex, eleven (20·3 %) included sex in the development model, seven (13·0 %) considered sex but did not include sex in the development model, and seven (13·0 %) derived a diet–biomarker-related index for men and women separately. A list of selected dietary factors that explained levels of biomarkers generally differed by sex in the studies that developed a diet–biomarker-related index in a sex-specific way.
Most studies that included both men and women did not develop the diet–biomarker-related index in a sex-specific way. Further research is needed to identify whether a sex-specific diet–biomarker-related index is more predictive of the disease of interest than an index without sex consideration.
Due to the lack of an effective prophylactic intervention and diagnosis, human liver fluke Clonorchis sinensis continues to afflict a large human population, causing a chronic inflammatory bile duct disease. With an aim to identify target antigens for sensitive serodiagnosis, adenylate kinase 3 of C. sinensis (CsAK3) was successfully expressed in soluble form in Escherichia coli by fusion to an RNA-interacting domain derived from human Lys-tRNA synthetase and purified by Ni2+-affinity chromatography. Anti-CsAK3 serum was raised by immunization of mice, and Western blotting confirmed that CsAK3 was expressed in adult-stage C. sinensis. Histochemical analysis showed that CsAK3 was localized to the subtegumental tissue of C. sinensis and was excreted into the bile duct of the host. When tested against sera from various parasite-infected patients by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, the recombinant CsAK3 elicited a specific response to C. sinensis-infected sera. The results suggest that CsAK3, either alone or in combination with other antigens, could be used for improving the clinical diagnosis of clonorchiasis.
Objectives: Rotator cuff tear is the leading cause of the decline in quality of life for older adults, but comparative evidence on treatment effectiveness is lacking. This study systematically reviewed the effects of various rotator cuff tear treatments through a Bayesian meta-analysis of the related randomized clinical trials (RCTs).
Methods: We searched nine electronic databases for RCTs evaluating rotator cuff tear treatments from their inception through June 2017. A systematic review was performed following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence-Decision Support Unit guidelines (Supplementary Table 1). Outcomes included functional improvement, pain one year after surgical treatment, and tendon structural integrity. The Bayesian network meta-analysis was applied for functional improvement and pain, based on an assumption of consistency and similarity. Tendon integrity was reported descriptively.
Results: Fifteen RCTs were selected. Patients undergoing physiotherapy after open surgery showed statistically significant functional improvements compared with those undergoing physiotherapy only (mean differences, 9.1 [credible interval, 0.9–17.4]). Open surgery with physiotherapy was associated with a decrease in pain 1 year after treatment compared with when physiotherapy was combined with arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery, mini open surgery, platelet-rich plasma therapy, or physiotherapy alone (absolute value of mean difference 1.2 to 1.4). The tendon integrity results were inconsistent.
Conclusions: Some surgical treatments were associated with significant improvement in function and pain, but evidence regarding their comparative effectiveness is still lacking. A well-designed RCT discussing functional and structural treatment outcomes is needed in future.
The Korea National Health Insurance (K-NHI) has covered medical devices with low cost-effectiveness evidence by what is known as the Selective Benefit (SB) since December of 2013 as a type of conditional coverage. Most medical devices in the SB category are new technology and have higher levels of clinical effectiveness and/or functions than those in the benefit category, but they are characterized as being expensive. We compare the K-NHI medical device coverage system to those in Japan and Taiwan so as to be more informed about how to cover and set prices for new medical devices.
We searched for materials related to medical device coverage or the reimbursement systems of three countries (Korea, Japan, and Taiwan). National health insurance laws, policy reports, and the websites of the Ministries of Health of the respective countries, for instance, were also reviewed.
The NHI systems of Korea, Japan, and Taiwan have several similarities with regard to their medical device benefit lists. They reimburse listed medical devices separately although they cover them basically by including procedures or a diagnosis-related group (DRG) fee. The K-NHI reimburses for medical devices with low cost-effectiveness using the actual market medical price, similar to other medical devices in the benefit category. However, there are no detailed rules regarding how to set prices for these devices. Every listed medical device is covered at the notified price in Japan, but the prices of new medical devices with improved functions can add 1 -100 percent of the price to the notified price. The prices of devices related to new medical procedures are determined by cost-accounting methods. The NHI service in Taiwan compensates for medical devices which are alternates but clinically improved types through a balance billing method.
The NHI systems in Japan and Taiwan set prices with regard to reimbursements for new medical devices separately, specifically for devices which are advanced clinically or functionally but expensive. The K-NHI must consider establishing a pricing or reimbursement system for new medical devices through the discussion with stakeholders for reasonable reimbursements and decreasing the financial burden on the K-NHI.
There are several options for the repair of interrupted aortic arch. Direct anastomosis may cause several problems including anastomotic site stenosis, left main bronchus compression, and acute-angled aortic arch. Interposition of a prosthetic graft has no growth potential. We present a case of 34-month-old child with interrupted aortic arch, which was repaired using a pulmonary autograft tube.
We investigated the influence of the Changjiang diluted waters (CDW) on the distribution of nanophytoplankton (<20 µm) abundance and biomass in the northern East China Sea (ECS) during two research cruises conducted in the summers of 2010 and 2012, using flow cytometry. Each group of nanophytoplankton responded differently to the distribution of the CDW. In the surface layer, Synechococcus 1 which has low orange fluorescence, a major component of summer nanophytoplankton, were more abundant under the large extension of CDW to the northern ECS in August 2010, whereas the abundance of other groups including Synechococcus 2 which has high orange fluorescence, and pico- and nano-eukaryotes (0.2–2 and 2–20 µm in diameter, respectively), dramatically increased under the small extension of CDW in August 2012. The subsurface chl-a maximum layer became more developed under the small extension of CDW, and was dominated by nano-eukaryotes. During two study periods, environmental characteristics in the CDW also showed annual variations, with higher seawater temperature, lower salinity, and higher nitrate concentration in the surface layer of the CDW in August 2010. The summer distributions of Synechococcus and nano-eukaryotes were likely to be limited by low salinity and high temperature, respectively, indicating that phytoplankton distribution could be influenced not only by the extension level of the CDW but also by the change of the environmental characters of the CDW.
Allicin (AL) regulates the cellular redox, proliferation, viability, and cell cycle of different cells against extracellular-derived stress. This study investigated the effects of allicin treatment on porcine oocyte maturation and developmental competence. Porcine oocytes were cultured in medium supplemented with 0 (control), 0.01, 0.1, 1, 10 or 100 μM AL, respectively, during in vitro maturation (IVM). The rate of polar body emission was higher in the 0.1 AL-treated group (74.5% ± 2.3%) than in the control (68.0% ± 2.6%) (P < 0.1). After parthenogenetic activation, the rates of cleavage and blastocyst formation were significantly higher in the 0.1 AL-treated group than in the control (P < 0.05). The reactive oxygen species level at metaphase II did not significantly differ among all groups. In matured oocytes, the expression of both BAK and CASP3, and BIRC5 was significantly lower and higher, respectively, in the 0.1 AL-treated group than in the control. Similarly, the expression of BMP15 and CCNB1, and the activity of phospho-p44/42 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), significantly increased. These results indicate that supplementation of oocyte maturation medium with allicin during IVM improves the maturation of oocytes and the subsequent developmental competence of porcine oocytes.
Our objective was to evaluate long-term altered appearance, distress, and body image in posttreatment breast cancer patients and compare them with those of patients undergoing active treatment and with general population controls.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey between May and December of 2010. We studied 138 breast cancer patients undergoing active treatment and 128 posttreatment patients from 23 Korean hospitals and 315 age- and area-matched subjects drawn from the general population. Breast, hair, and skin changes, distress, and body image were assessed using visual analogue scales and the EORTC BR–23. Average levels of distress were compared across groups, and linear regression was utilized to identify the factors associated with body image.
Compared to active-treatment patients, posttreatment patients reported similar breast changes (6.6 vs. 6.2), hair loss (7.7 vs. 6.7), and skin changes (5.8 vs. 5.4), and both groups had significantly more severe changes than those of the general population controls (p < 0.01). For a similar level of altered appearance, however, breast cancer patients experienced significantly higher levels of distress than the general population. In multivariate analysis, patients with high altered appearance distress reported significantly poorer body image (–20.7, CI95% = –28.3 to –13.1) than patients with low distress.
Significance of results:
Posttreatment breast cancer patients experienced similar levels of altered appearance, distress, and body-image disturbance relative to patients undergoing active treatment but significantly higher distress and poorer body image than members of the general population. Healthcare professionals should acknowledge the possible long-term effects of altered appearance among breast cancer survivors and help them to manage the associated distress and psychological consequences.