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Evidence from previous small trials has suggested the effectiveness of early social communication interventions for autism.
The Preschool Autism Communication Trial (PACT) investigated the efficacy of such an intervention in the largest psychosocial autism trial to date.
To provide a stringent test of a pre-school communication intervention for autism.
152 children with core autism aged 2 years - 4 years 11 months in a 3 site 2 arm single (assessor) blinded randomised controlled trial of the parent-mediated communication-focused intervention added to treatment as usual (TAU) against TAU alone. Primary outcome; severity of autism symptoms (modified social communication algorithm from Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-Generic, ADOS-G). Secondary outcomes; blinded measures of parent-child interaction, child language, and adaptation in school.
At 13 month endpoint the treatment resulted in strong improvement in parental synchronous response to child (adjusted between-group effect size 1.22 (95% CI 0.85, 1.59) and child initiations with parent (ES 0.41 (0.08, 0.74) but small effect on autism symptomatology (ADOS-G, ES -0.24 (95% CI -0.59, 0.11) ns). Parents (not blind to allocation) reported strong treatment effects on child language and social adaptation but effects on blinded research assessed language and school adaptation were small.
Addition of the PACT intervention showed clear benefit in improving parent-child dyadic social communication but no substantive benefit over TAU in modifying objectively rated autism symptoms. This attenuation on generalisation from ‘proximal’ intervention effects to wider symptom change in other contexts remains a significant challenge for autism treatment and measurement methodology.
The physiology of mesophotic Scleractinia varies with depth in response to environmental change. Previous research has documented trends in heterotrophy and photosynthesis with depth, but has not addressed between-site variation for a single species. Environmental differences between sites at a local scale and heterogeneous microhabitats, because of irradiance and food availability, are likely important factors when explaining the occurrence and physiology of Scleractinia. Here, 108 colonies of Agaricia lamarcki were sampled from two locations off the coast of Utila, Honduras, distributed evenly down the observed 50 m depth range of the species. We found that depth alone was not sufficient to fully explain physiological variation. Pulse Amplitude-Modulation fluorometry and stable isotope analyses revealed that trends in photochemical and heterotrophic activity with depth varied markedly between sites. Our isotope analyses do not support an obligate link between photosynthetic activity and heterotrophic subsidy with increasing depth. We found that A. lamarcki colonies at the bottom of the species depth range can be physiologically similar to those nearer the surface. As a potential explanation, we hypothesize sites with high topographical complexity, and therefore varied microhabitats, may provide more physiological niches distributed across a larger depth range. Varied microhabitats with depth may reduce the dominance of depth as a physiological determinant. Thus, A. lamarcki may ‘avoid’ changes in environment with depth, by instead existing in a subset of favourable niches. Our observations correlate with site-specific depth ranges, advocating for linking physiology and abiotic profiles when defining the distribution of mesophotic taxa.
Influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are common causes of respiratory tract infections and place a burden on health services each winter. Systems to describe the timing and intensity of such activity will improve the public health response and deployment of interventions to these pressures. Here we develop early warning and activity intensity thresholds for monitoring influenza and RSV using two novel data sources: general practitioner out-of-hours consultations (GP OOH) and telehealth calls (NHS 111). Moving Epidemic Method (MEM) thresholds were developed for winter 2017–2018. The NHS 111 cold/flu threshold was breached several weeks in advance of other systems. The NHS 111 RSV epidemic threshold was breached in week 41, in advance of RSV laboratory reporting. Combining the use of MEM thresholds with daily monitoring of NHS 111 and GP OOH syndromic surveillance systems provides the potential to alert to threshold breaches in real-time. An advantage of using thresholds across different health systems is the ability to capture a range of healthcare-seeking behaviour, which may reflect differences in disease severity. This study also provides a quantifiable measure of seasonal RSV activity, which contributes to our understanding of RSV activity in advance of the potential introduction of new RSV vaccines.
Mismatch negativity (MMN) is an event-related potential (ERP) component reflecting auditory predictive coding. Repeated standard tones evoke increasing positivity (‘repetition positivity’; RP), reflecting strengthening of the standard's memory trace and the prediction it will recur. Likewise, deviant tones preceded by more standard repetitions evoke greater negativity (‘deviant negativity’; DN), reflecting stronger prediction error signaling. These memory trace effects are also evident in MMN difference wave. Here, we assess group differences and test-retest reliability of these indices in schizophrenia patients (SZ) and healthy controls (HC).
Electroencephalography was recorded twice, 2 weeks apart, from 43 SZ and 30 HC, during a roving standard paradigm. We examined ERPs to the third, eighth, and 33rd standards (RP), immediately subsequent deviants (DN), and the corresponding MMN. Memory trace effects were assessed by comparing amplitudes associated with the three standard repetition trains.
Compared with controls, SZ showed reduced MMNs and DNs, but normal RPs. Both groups showed memory trace effects for RP, MMN, and DN, with a trend for attenuated DNs in SZ. Intraclass correlations obtained via this paradigm indicated good-to-moderate reliabilities for overall MMN, DN and RP, but moderate to poor reliabilities for components associated with short, intermediate, and long standard trains, and poor reliability of their memory trace effects.
MMN deficits in SZ reflected attenuated prediction error signaling (DN), with relatively intact predictive code formation (RP) and memory trace effects. This roving standard MMN paradigm requires additional development/validation to obtain suitable levels of reliability for use in clinical trials.
Legionnaires’ disease (LD) incidence in the USA has quadrupled since 2000. Health departments must detect LD outbreaks quickly to identify and remediate sources. We tested the performance of a system to prospectively detect simulated LD outbreaks in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA. We generated three simulated LD outbreaks based on published outbreaks. After verifying no significant clusters existed in surveillance data during 2014–2016, we embedded simulated outbreak-associated cases into 2016, assigning simulated residences and report dates. We mimicked daily analyses in 2016 using the prospective space-time permutation scan statistic to detect clusters of ⩽30 and ⩽180 days using 365-day and 730-day baseline periods, respectively. We used recurrence interval (RI) thresholds of ⩾20, ⩾100 and ⩾365 days to define significant signals. We calculated sensitivity, specificity and positive and negative predictive values for daily analyses, separately for each embedded outbreak. Two large, simulated cooling tower-associated outbreaks were detected. As the RI threshold was increased, sensitivity and negative predictive value decreased, while positive predictive value and specificity increased. A small, simulated potable water-associated outbreak was not detected. Use of a RI threshold of ⩾100 days minimised time-to-detection while maximizing positive predictive value. Health departments should consider using this system to detect community-acquired LD outbreaks.
A cluster of Salmonella Paratyphi B variant L(+) tartrate(+) infections with indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns was detected in October 2015. Interviews initially identified nut butters, kale, kombucha, chia seeds and nutrition bars as common exposures. Epidemiologic, environmental and traceback investigations were conducted. Thirteen ill people infected with the outbreak strain were identified in 10 states with illness onset during 18 July–22 November 2015. Eight of 10 (80%) ill people reported eating Brand A raw sprouted nut butters. Brand A conducted a voluntary recall. Raw sprouted nut butters are a novel outbreak vehicle, though contaminated raw nuts, nut butters and sprouted seeds have all caused outbreaks previously. Firms producing raw sprouted products, including nut butters, should consider a kill step to reduce the risk of contamination. People at greater risk for foodborne illness may wish to consider avoiding raw products containing raw sprouted ingredients.
During the 2009 influenza pandemic, a rapid assessment of disease severity was a challenge as a significant proportion of cases did not seek medical care; care-seeking behaviour changed and the proportion asymptomatic was unknown. A random-digit-dialling telephone survey was undertaken during the 2011/12 winter season in England and Wales to address the feasibility of answering these questions. A proportional quota sampling strategy was employed based on gender, age group, geographical location, employment status and level of education. Households were recruited pre-season and re-contacted immediately following peak seasonal influenza activity. The pre-peak survey was undertaken in October 2011 with 1061 individuals recruited and the post-peak telephone survey in March 2012. Eight hundred and thirty-four of the 1061 (78.6%) participants were successfully re-contacted. Their demographic characteristics compared well to national census data. In total, 8.4% of participants self-reported an influenza-like illness (ILI) in the previous 2 weeks, with 3.2% conforming to the World Health Organization (WHO) ILI case definition. In total, 29.6% of the cases reported consulting their general practitioner. 54.1% of the 1061 participants agreed to be re-contacted about providing biological samples. A population-based cohort was successfully recruited and followed up. Longitudinal survey methodology provides a practical tool to assess disease severity during future pandemics.
Significant increases in excess all-cause mortality, particularly in the elderly, were observed during the winter of 2014/15 in England. With influenza A(H3N2) the dominant circulating influenza A subtype, this paper determines the contribution of influenza to this excess controlling for weather. A standardised multivariable Poisson regression model was employed with weekly all-cause deaths the dependent variable for the period 2008–2015. Adjusting for extreme temperature, a total of 26 542 (95% CI 25 301–27 804) deaths in 65+ and 1942 (95% CI 1834–2052) in 15–64-year-olds were associated with influenza from week 40, 2014 to week 20, 2015. This is compatible with the circulation of influenza A(H3N2). It is the largest estimated number of influenza-related deaths in England since prior to 2008/09. The findings highlight the potential health impact of influenza and the important role of the annual influenza vaccination programme that is required to protect the population including the elderly, who are vulnerable to a severe outcome.
The discovery of the first electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational wave signal has generated follow-up observations by over 50 facilities world-wide, ushering in the new era of multi-messenger astronomy. In this paper, we present follow-up observations of the gravitational wave event GW170817 and its electromagnetic counterpart SSS17a/DLT17ck (IAU label AT2017gfo) by 14 Australian telescopes and partner observatories as part of Australian-based and Australian-led research programs. We report early- to late-time multi-wavelength observations, including optical imaging and spectroscopy, mid-infrared imaging, radio imaging, and searches for fast radio bursts. Our optical spectra reveal that the transient source emission cooled from approximately 6 400 K to 2 100 K over a 7-d period and produced no significant optical emission lines. The spectral profiles, cooling rate, and photometric light curves are consistent with the expected outburst and subsequent processes of a binary neutron star merger. Star formation in the host galaxy probably ceased at least a Gyr ago, although there is evidence for a galaxy merger. Binary pulsars with short (100 Myr) decay times are therefore unlikely progenitors, but pulsars like PSR B1534+12 with its 2.7 Gyr coalescence time could produce such a merger. The displacement (~2.2 kpc) of the binary star system from the centre of the main galaxy is not unusual for stars in the host galaxy or stars originating in the merging galaxy, and therefore any constraints on the kick velocity imparted to the progenitor are poor.
Mycobacterium marinum, a bacterium found in freshwater and saltwater, can infect persons with direct exposure to fish or aquariums. During December 2013, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene learned of four suspected or confirmed M. marinum skin or soft tissue infections (SSTIs) among persons who purchased whole fish from Chinese markets. Ninety-eight case-patients with non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) SSTIs were identified with onset June 2013–March 2014. Of these, 77 (79%) were female. The median age was 62 years (range 30–91). Whole genome sequencing of clinical isolates revealed two main clusters and marked genetic diversity. Environmental samples from distributors yielded NTM though not M. marinum. We compared 56 case-patients with 185 control subjects who shopped in Chinese markets, frequency-matched by age group and sex. Risk factors for infection included skin injury to the finger or hand (odds ratio [OR]: 15·5; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 6·9–37·3), hand injury while preparing fish or seafood (OR 8·3; 95% CI 3·8–19·1), and purchasing tilapia (OR 3·6; 95% CI 1·1–13·9) or whiting (OR 2·7; 95% CI 1·1–6·6). A definitive environmental outbreak source was not identified.
Measures of social cognition are increasingly being applied to psychopathology, including studies of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. Tests of social cognition present unique challenges for international adaptations. The Mayer–Salovey–Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test, Managing Emotions Branch (MSCEIT-ME) is a commonly-used social cognition test that involves the evaluation of social scenarios presented in vignettes.
This paper presents evaluations of translations of this test in six different languages based on representative samples from the relevant countries. The goal was to identify items from the MSCEIT-ME that show different response patterns across countries using indices of discrepancy and content validity criteria. An international version of the MSCEIT-ME scoring was developed that excludes items that showed undesirable properties across countries.
We then confirmed that this new version had better performance (i.e. less discrepancy across regions) in international samples than the version based on the original norms. Additionally, it provides scores that are comparable to ratings based on local norms.
This paper shows that it is possible to adapt complex social cognitive tasks so they can provide valid data across different cultural contexts.
A phased introduction of routine influenza vaccination of healthy children was recommended in the UK in 2012, with the aim of protecting both vaccinated children and the wider population through reducing transmission. In the first year of the programme in 2013–2014, 4- to 11-year-olds were targeted in pilot areas across England. This study assesses if this was associated with school absenteeism, an important societal burden of influenza. During the spring 2014 term when influenza predominantly circulated, the proportion of absence sessions due to illness was compared between vaccination pilot and non-pilot areas for primary schools (to measure overall impact) and secondary schools (to measure indirect impact). A linear multilevel regression model was applied, adjusting for clustering within schools and potential school-level confounders, including deprivation, past absenteeism, and ethnicity. Low levels of influenza activity were reported in the community in 2013–2014. Primary schools in pilot areas had a significantly adjusted decrease in illness absenteeism of 0·05% relative to non-pilot schools; equivalent to an average of 4 days per school. In secondary schools, there was no significant indirect impact of being located in a pilot area on illness absenteeism. These insights can be used in conjunction with routine healthcare surveillance data to evaluate the full benefits of such a programme.
Toxigenic strains of Vibrio cholerae serogroups O1 and O139 have caused cholera epidemics, but other serogroups – such as O75 or O141 – can also produce cholera toxin and cause severe watery diarrhoea similar to cholera. We describe 31 years of surveillance for toxigenic non-O1, non-O139 infections in the United States and map these infections to the state where the exposure probably originated. While serogroups O75 and O141 are closely related pathogens, they differ in how and where they infect people. Oysters were the main vehicle for O75 infection. The vehicles for O141 infection include oysters, clams, and freshwater in lakes and rivers. The patients infected with serogroup O75 who had food traceback information available ate raw oysters from Florida. Patients infected with O141 ate oysters from Florida and clams from New Jersey, and those who only reported being exposed to freshwater were exposed in Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, and Texas. Improving the safety of oysters, specifically, should help prevent future illnesses from these toxigenic strains and similar pathogenic Vibrio species. Post-harvest processing of raw oysters, such as individual quick freezing, heat-cool pasteurization, and high hydrostatic pressurization, should be considered.
Although mental disorders are significant predictors of educational attainment throughout the entire educational career, most research on mental disorders among students has focused on the primary and secondary school years.
The World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys were used to examine the associations of mental disorders with college entry and attrition by comparing college students (n = 1572) and non-students in the same age range (18–22 years; n = 4178), including non-students who recently left college without graduating (n = 702) based on surveys in 21 countries (four low/lower-middle income, five upper-middle-income, one lower-middle or upper-middle at the times of two different surveys, and 11 high income). Lifetime and 12-month prevalence and age-of-onset of DSM-IV anxiety, mood, behavioral and substance disorders were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI).
One-fifth (20.3%) of college students had 12-month DSM-IV/CIDI disorders; 83.1% of these cases had pre-matriculation onsets. Disorders with pre-matriculation onsets were more important than those with post-matriculation onsets in predicting subsequent college attrition, with substance disorders and, among women, major depression the most important such disorders. Only 16.4% of students with 12-month disorders received any 12-month healthcare treatment for their mental disorders.
Mental disorders are common among college students, have onsets that mostly occur prior to college entry, in the case of pre-matriculation disorders are associated with college attrition, and are typically untreated. Detection and effective treatment of these disorders early in the college career might reduce attrition and improve educational and psychosocial functioning.
This study examined subjective and objective cognitive functioning in 26 female breast cancer survivors (BCS) who received chemotherapy treatment that finished .5 to 5 years prior to testing and compared their results to 25 demographically matched women with no history of cancer. Participants were assessed on prospective memory (PM) tasks; neuropsychological tests of processing speed, attentional flexibility with greater cognitive load, executive function, and verbal memory; self-report measures of cognitive dysfunction and PM failures; and distress. The BCS group showed significantly slower speed of processing and reduced attentional flexibility, and reported significantly more cognitive complaints and PM failures than the control group on five of six self-report measures. The groups did not differ on other PM or neuropsychological measures or on a measure of distress. Subjective cognition correlated with some neuropsychological tests and with a virtual reality PM task. Objective cognitive impairments were associated with reduced quality of life in the BCS group. The results provide some evidence of both self-reported impairment and objective cognitive dysfunction following chemotherapy treatment.
Seasonal respiratory infections place an increased burden on health services annually. We used a sentinel emergency department syndromic surveillance system to understand the factors driving respiratory attendances at emergency departments (EDs) in England. Trends in different respiratory indicators were observed to peak at different points during winter, with further variation observed in the distribution of attendances by age. Multiple linear regression analysis revealed acute respiratory infection and bronchitis/bronchiolitis ED attendances in patients aged 1–4 years were particularly sensitive indicators for increasing respiratory syncytial virus activity. Using near real-time surveillance of respiratory ED attendances may provide early warning of increased winter pressures in EDs, particularly driven by seasonal pathogens. This surveillance may provide additional intelligence about different categories of attendance, highlighting pressures in particular age groups, thereby aiding planning and preparation to respond to acute changes in EDs, and thus the health service in general.
IAU Commission 6 “Astronomical Telegrams” had a single business meeting during Honolulu General Assembly of the IAU. It took place on Tuesday, 11 August 2015. The meeting was attended by Hitoshi Yamaoka (President), Daniel Green (Director of the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams, CBAT, via Skype), Steven Chesley (JPL), Paul Chodas (JPL), Alan Gilmore (Canterbury University), Shinjiro Kouzuma (Chukyo University), Paolo Mazzali (Co-Chair of the Supernova Working Group), Elena Pian (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa), Marion Schmitz (chair IAU Working Group Designations + NED), David Tholen (University of Hawaii), Jana Ticha (Klet Observatory), Milos Tichy (Klet Observatory), Giovanni Valsecchi (INAF\slash Italy), Gareth Williams (Minor Planet Center). Apologies: Nikolai Samus (General Catalogue of Variable Stars, GCVS).
The number of separable cognitive dimensions in schizophrenia has been debated. Guided by the extant factor analytic literature, the NIMH Measurement and Treatment Research to Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia (MATRICS) initiative selected seven cognitive domains relevant to treatment studies in schizophrenia: speed of processing, attention/vigilance, working memory, verbal learning, visual learning, reasoning and problem solving, and social cognition. These domains are assessed in the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB). The aim of this study was to conduct a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) of the beta battery of the MCCB to compare the fit of the MATRICS consensus seven-domain model to other models in the current literature on cognition in schizophrenia.
Using data from 281 schizophrenia outpatients, we compared the seven correlated factors model with alternative models. Specifically, we compared the 7-factor model to (a) a single-factor model, (b) a three correlated factors model including speed of processing, working memory, and general cognition, and (c) a hierarchical model in which seven first-order factors loaded onto a second-order general cognitive factor.
Multiple fit indices indicated the seven correlated factors model was the best fit for the data and provided significant improvement in model fit beyond the comparison models.
These results support the assessment of these seven cognitive dimensions in clinical trials of interventions to improve cognition in schizophrenia. Because these cognitive factors are separable to some degree, it is plausible that specific interventions may have differential effects on the domains.