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Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest natural twinning rate in the world. Unfortunately, due to lack of adequate care during pregnancy, labor and postnatally, twin mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa also remains very high. Thus, it has been estimated that one in five twins dies during the childhood years. In spite of this, surprisingly few twin studies have been conducted in the region, making additional epidemiological data much needed. In 2009, we established one of the first twin registries in Sub-Saharan Africa at the Bandim Health Project in Guinea-Bissau. The registry had two main objectives. First, we wanted to describe the twinning rate and mortality patterns among newborn twins, including mortality risk factors and hospitalization patterns. Such studies can help the local clinicians improve twin health by identifying the most vulnerable children. Second, and in light of the rapidly increasing diabetes rates in Africa, we wanted to use the registry to particularly focus on metabolic disorders. Twins are often born with low birth weight, which according to the ‘thrifty phenotype hypothesis’ could predispose them to metabolic disorders later in life. Yet, no such ‘fetal programming’ data have previously been available from African twins despite the fact that nutritional patterns and influences from other factors (e.g., infections) could be markedly different here compared to high-income settings. In this article, we summarize the findings and current status of the Guinea-Bissau twin registry.
Measuring and Assessing Effectiveness
Herman Kasper Gilissen, Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law of Utrecht University,
Peter Driessen, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development of Utrecht University,
Heleen Mees, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development of Utrecht University,
Marleen van Rijswick, Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law of Utrecht University,
Hens Runhaar, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development of Utrecht University,
Caroline Uittenbroek, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development of Utrecht University,
Rebecca Wörner, Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law of Utrecht University
This chapter presents and applies an interdisciplinary (law & governance) method for the assessment of the climate resilience of critical infrastructural network sectors. Broadly applicable, this methodological framework comprises three phases, within which six logically arranged steps are set out. The central assessment criterion for climate resilience, the ‘expected effectiveness’ of responsibilities for climate adaptation, is operationalized through six indicators. These are: awareness, proactivity, appropriateness, explicitness, transparency and legitimacy. Apart from academic purposes, this assessment framework can prove useful to law and policy makers in assessing and (re)developing the relevant arrangements that govern critical infrastructural network sectors. To give examples of the functioning of the assessment framework, this framework is applied in two case studies that address the Dutch electricity and internet sectors. These case studies show a rather low level of expected effectiveness of responsibilities for climate adaptation in both sectors. Apart from their exemplary purpose, these case studies provide insights into potential pitfalls which can be relevant for increasing the climate resilience of other network sectors in the Netherlands, in other EU Member States and abroad.
Modern societies and key societal functions, such as emergency management and health care, depend largely upon the smooth-functioning of critical infrastructural networks, such as energy, ICT, drinking water and transportation networks. The collapse of such networks can cause an array of societal disruption and damage. Critical infrastructural networks are particularly prone to external influences, such as floods and other water-related events. The expected climate change increases the chance of such events, thus also increasing the infrastructural networks’ vulnerability. International, EU and domestic climate change scenarios display rather clear trends. Focusing on the EU and its Member States, increases in the duration, probability and intensity of weather extremes (e.g. heavy rainfall and extreme droughts) are already being perceived throughout the continent and are expected to increase even further. The associated risks, in this chapter, are referred to as climate risks. The question arises how the responsibilities to combat climate risks for critical infrastructural networks are divided in the EU and in its Member States particularly, and to what extent these responsibilities, and the division thereof, are expected to be effective.
The 2020 EU biodiversity strategy aims to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, but this requires effective monitoring to determine whether these aims are achieved. Common bird monitoring continuously assesses changes in the avian community, providing a powerful tool for monitoring temporal changes in the abundance and distribution of these upper trophic level consumers. Two-thirds of Denmark’s land area is intensively farmed, so agricultural habitats make a major contribution to Danish biodiversity. We looked for changes in abundance amongst farmland birds in Denmark during 1987–2014 to test for reductions in declines and to predict whether the 2020-target can be expected to be achieved. Sixteen specialist farmland species were those showing the most rapid declines amongst 102 common breeding species in Denmark. Of these, those species nesting on the ground showed significant long-term declines, which was not the case for those that nest elsewhere, i.e. in hedgerows, trees and buildings. There was no evidence to suggest that these trends were attributable to widespread declines in long-distance migrant species (as reported elsewhere), which may be affected by conditions at other times in the annual cycle. We therefore conclude that continued declines in specialist farmland breeding bird species are due to contemporary agricultural changes within Denmark and urge habitat- and species-specific analysis to identify the core causes of these changes and halt the declines.
In patients with schizophrenia in a psychotic episode, intra-striatal intrinsic connectivity is increased in the putamen but not ventral striatum. Furthermore, multimodal changes have been observed in the anterior insula that interact extensively with the putamen.
We hypothesised that during psychosis, putamen extra-striatal functional connectivity is altered with both the anterior insula and areas normally connected with the ventral striatum (i.e. altered functional connectivity distinctiveness of putamen and ventral striatum).
We acquired resting-state functional magnetic resonance images from 21 patients with schizophrenia in a psychotic episode and 42 controls.
Patients had decreased functional connectivity: the putamen with right anterior insula and dorsal prefrontal cortex, the ventral striatum with left anterior insula. Decreased functional connectivity between putamen and right anterior insula was specifically associated with patients' hallucinations. Functional connectivity distinctiveness was impaired only for the putamen.
Results indicate aberrant extra-striatal connectivity during psychosis and a relationship between reduced putamen–right anterior insula connectivity and hallucinations. Data suggest that altered intrinsic connectivity links striatal and insular pathophysiology in psychosis.
Taking a self-determination perspective, the present study aims at assessing how the linguistic background shapes internal and external motivation towards Finnish among young Swedish-speaking Finns. Self-report questionnaire data were collected in 2014 among students in Swedish language secondary schools in Esbo/Espoo and Raseborg/Raasepori in Finland (N = 233). The results demonstrated that bilinguals are more internally motivated towards Finnish, whereas Swedish speakers are more externally motivated towards Finnish. Furthermore, while Swedish speakers in both Swedish-dominated and Finnish-dominated localities reported the same level of external motivation, bilinguals in the Swedish-dominated locality reported higher level of external motivation than did bilinguals in the Finnish-dominated locality. These findings and their theoretical implications are discussed.
It may be assumed that increased public awareness of dementia due to Alzheimer's disease (AD) together with the availability of efficacious treatment will result in diagnostic evaluation at earlier stages of cognitive decline and diagnosis of dementia due to AD at earlier stages.
All persons that were examined at a university based memory clinic, in Germany, between 1985 and 2009 were included.
In the 3,951 persons identified, linear regression analysis revealed a positive association between Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) score and year of initial examination (yearIE) (β = 0.266; p < 0.001). In the 1,821 patients diagnosed with dementia due to AD, a positive association between MMSE score and yearIE (β = 0.230; p < 0.001) was revealed. MMSE scores were higher (β = 0.195; p < 0.001) after the introduction of cholinesterase inhibitors in Germany in 1997.
Diagnostic evaluation of individuals occurred at progressively earlier stages of cognitive decline. Dementia due to AD was diagnosed at progressively earlier stages, and this trend was associated with the availability of efficacious treatment. This is the first study on changes in patient referral and diagnosis based on a continuous 25 years period.
Impaired social functioning and autistic symptoms are characteristics of schizophrenia. The social hormones oxytocin (OT) and arginine-vasopressin (AVP) both modulate social interaction and therefore may be involved in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. We investigated whether men with schizophrenia show altered OT and AVP levels compared with healthy controls (HC) and whether autism symptoms are associated with OT levels.
Forty-one men with non-acute schizophrenia and 45 matched HC were enroled. Schizophrenia was assessed with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS). Blood samples were collected on 2 days, and plasma OT and AVP levels were measured by ELISA immunoassay.
The schizophrenia patients had significantly lower plasma OT levels than the HC; a similar trend was found for AVP. Plasma OT levels were associated with severe life events, fewer important attached persons, and a higher score on the PANSS negative scale; the most dominant PANSS items were ‘preoccupation’, ‘emotional withdrawal’, and ‘passive/apathetic social withdrawal’.
These findings support an association between the social hormones OT and AVP and schizophrenia. We suggest that OT metabolism may be altered in schizophrenia, but other possible causes for decreased plasma OT levels in schizophrenia patients include decreased OT synthesis, mRNA expression, and translation. Especially the ‘autistic’ symptoms of schizophrenia seem to be closely linked to an altered metabolism of OT, the ‘attachment’ hormone.
The oxygen conductor yttria-stabilized-zirconia (YSZ) is widely used in miniaturized solid oxide fuel cells (µSOFC) and may be suitable for solid state ion emitter applications e.g. as miniaturized ion engines for electric propulsion. Since the YSZ films are not completely free of stress during the growth, cracks in fabricated free-standing membranes are often observed.
YSZ thin films were deposited on silicon substrates by radio frequency sputtering. Free-standing YSZ membranes were fabricated by partially removing the Si substrate by anisotropic wet-chemical etching using different masking patterns defined by electron beam lithography. We show how different sizes and etching conditions influence the strain in the fabricated membranes. To characterize these membranes we used optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy.
Twins traditionally retain a special status in many African societies. In Guinea-Bissau, twins are often well regarded yet still suffer from a very high mortality, especially in the perinatal and infant period. At the Bandim Health Project, a health and demographic surveillance site, we have recently established one of the first twin registries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our short-term aim is to describe twin mortality and morbidity in order to design appropriate health interventions. Our long-term goal is a large-scale database to explore the pathogenesis of prevalent diseases; for example, diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, and infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria. A major focus area is also the etiology of low birth weight and how epigenetic processes might modulate the consequences of low birth weight in Sub-Saharan Africa. For this, monozygotic twin studies represent a powerful tool. Though twin studies have been carried out by the Bandim Health Project for more than 30 years, the renewed registry described here was officially established in 2009 and includes both a cohort of newborn twins and a cohort of young and adult twins. Currently more than 1,500 twins are being followed in the two cohorts combined. We believe that the registry holds exciting possibilities and will encourage the establishment of further twin registries across the region.
Nanoporous carbons have been synthesised through a selective etching reaction, performed by halogenisation of metal carbides. The structures obtained can be controlled by choice of starting materials and reaction parameters, and here one example, chlorination of aluminium carbide at 700 °C, is given. The produced material is nanotube-like with agglomerates of short and wide interconnected tubular structures, which are here described as nanobarrels. The synthesis process gives a pure product with high-yield, and may be scaled up to produce bulk amounts.
The paper reviews the basics of SiC bulk growth by the physical vapor transport (PVT) method and discuss current and possible future concepts to improve crystalline quality. In-situ process visualization using x-rays, numerical modeling and advanced doping techniques will be briefly presented which support growth process optimization. The “pure” PVT technique will be compared with related developments like the so called Modified-PVT, Continuous-Feeding-PVT, High-Temperature-CVD and Halide-CVD concepts. Special emphasis will be put on dislocation generation and annihilation and concepts to reduce dislocation density during SiC bulk crystal growth. The dislocation study is based on a statistical approach. Rather than following the evolu-tion of a single defect, statistic data which reflect a more global dislocation density evolution are interpreted. In this context a new approach will be presented which relates thermally induced strain during growth and dislocation patterning in networks.
The science of extra-solar planets is one of the most rapidly changing areas of astrophysics and since 1995 the number of planets known has increased by almost two orders of magnitude. A combination of ground-based surveys and dedicated space missions has resulted in 560-plus planets being detected, and over 1200 that await confirmation. NASA's Kepler mission has opened up the possibility of discovering Earth-like planets in the habitable zone around some of the 100,000 stars it is surveying during its 3 to 4-year lifetime. The new ESA's Gaia mission is expected to discover thousands of new planets around stars within 200 parsecs of the Sun. The key challenge now is moving on from discovery, important though that remains, to characterisation: what are these planets actually like, and why are they as they are?
In the past ten years, we have learned how to obtain the first spectra of exoplanets using transit transmission and emission spectroscopy. With the high stability of Spitzer, Hubble, and large ground-based telescopes the spectra of bright close-in massive planets can be obtained and species like water vapour, methane, carbon monoxide and dioxide have been detected. With transit science came the first tangible remote sensing of these planetary bodies and so one can start to extrapolate from what has been learnt from Solar System probes to what one might plan to learn about their faraway siblings. As we learn more about the atmospheres, surfaces and near-surfaces of these remote bodies, we will begin to build up a clearer picture of their construction, history and suitability for life.
The Exoplanet Characterisation Observatory, EChO, will be the first dedicated mission to investigate the physics and chemistry of Exoplanetary Atmospheres. By characterising spectroscopically more bodies in different environments we will take detailed planetology out of the Solar System and into the Galaxy as a whole.
EChO has now been selected by the European Space Agency to be assessed as one of four M3 mission candidates.