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Twins Research Australia (TRA) is a community of twins and researchers working on health research to benefit everyone, including twins. TRA leads multidisciplinary research through the application of twin and family study designs, with the aim of sustaining long-term twin research that, both now and in the future, gives back to the community. This article summarizes TRA’s recent achievements and future directions, including new methodologies addressing causation, linkage to health, economic and educational administrative datasets and to geospatial data to provide insight into health and disease. We also explain how TRA’s knowledge translation and exchange activities are key to communicating the impact of twin studies to twins and the wider community. Building researcher capability, providing registry resources and partnering with all key stakeholders, particularly the participants, are important for how TRA is advancing twin research to improve health outcomes for society. TRA provides researchers with open access to its vibrant volunteer membership of twins, higher order multiples (multiples) and families who are willing to consider participation in research. Established four decades ago, this resource facilitates and supports research across multiple stages and a breadth of health domains.
This paper examines individual differences in constraints on linguistic variation in light of Labov's (2007) proposal that adult change (diffusion) disrupts systems of constraints and Tamminga, MacKenzie, and Embick's (2016) typology of constraints. It is shown that, in pooling data from multiple speakers, some of the complexity in structured community variation may be overlooked. Data on rhoticity from speakers of Bristol English are compared to 34 previous studies of rhoticity in varieties of English around the world. Constraints found to be consistent across varieties are also found to be consistent across speakers of Bristol English, whereas those that differ between varieties also differ between individuals, implying that only those which differ are truly part of the grammar, and that these are indeed disrupted by diffusion.
Hearing loss is highly prevalent in older adults and can pose challenges for neuropsychologists, as assessment and intervention procedures often involve orally presented information which must be accurately heard. This project examined the hearing status of 20 clients (mean age = 71 years) in a hospital-based outpatient neuropsychology clinic, and explored whether information about hearing loss informed neuropsychologists’ clinical practice. A research assistant administered a brief hearing screening test to each participant. Four treating neuropsychologists were asked to comment on their client’s hearing status before and after being shown their client’s hearing screen test results. Screening revealed that the majority of participants had at least mild hearing loss, and that the neuropsychologists were relatively accurate (60%) at estimating their clients’ hearing status. Neuropsychologists used information about a client’s hearing status to make recommendations that clients pursue audiologic services, and to educate clients and family members about hearing loss and communication.
The Brazilian Twin Registry (BTR) was established in 2013 and has impelled twin research in South America. The main aim of the initiative was to create a resource that would be accessible to the Brazilian scientific community as well as international researchers interested in the investigation of the contribution of genetic and environmental factors in the development of common diseases, phenotypes, and human behavior traits. The BTR is a joint effort between academic and governmental institutions from Brazil and Australia. The collaboration includes the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) in Brazil, the University of Sydney and University of Melbourne in Australia, the Australian Twin Registry, as well as the research foundations CNPq and CAPES in Brazil. The BTR is a member of the International Network of Twin Registries. Recruitment strategies used to register twins have been through participation in a longitudinal study investigating genetic and environmental factors for low back pain occurrence, and from a variety of sources including media campaigns and social networking. Currently, 291 twins are registered in the BTR, with data on demographics, zygosity, anthropometrics, and health history having been collected from 151 twins using a standardized self-reported questionnaire. Future BTR plans include the registration of thousands of Brazilian twins identified from different sources and collaborate nationally and internationally with other research groups interested on twin studies.
All same-sex dizygotic (DZ) twins and approximately one-third of monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs have separate placentas, making it impossible to use the number of placentas to determine zygosity. Zygosity determination is further complicated because incorrect assumptions are often made, such as that only DZ pairs have two placentas and that all MZ pairs are phenotypically identical. These assumptions, by twins, their families and health professionals, along with the lack of universal zygosity testing for same-sex twins, has led to confusion within the twin community, yet little research has been conducted with twins about their understanding and assumptions about zygosity. We aimed to explore and quantify understanding and assumptions about zygosity using twins attending an Australian twin festival. We recruited 91 twin pairs younger than 18 years of age and their parents, and 30 adult twin pairs who were all uncertain of their zygosity, to complete one pen and paper questionnaire and one online questionnaire about their assumed zygosity, reasons for their assumptions and the importance of accurate zygosity knowledge. Responses were compared with their true zygosity measured using a genetic test. We found a substantial proportion of parents and twins had been misinformed by their own parents or medical professionals, and that knowledge of their true zygosity status provided peace of mind and positive emotional responses. For these reasons we propose universal zygosity testing of same-sex twins as early in life as possible and an increase in education of medical professionals, twins and families of twins about zygosity issues.
Nanocomposites of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) embedded in polyaniline fibers have been fabricated using a one-pot synthesis approach and in-situ polymerization. By using a combination of inorganic acids (e.g. HCl) and camphorsulfonic acid, polyaniline nanostructured fibers of high aspect ratio with diameters of 150 ± 50 nm and several micrometers in length were obtained. These fibers afforded high electrical conductivity of 4.2 ± 0.5 S/cm. Encapsulation of the AuNPs in the polyaniline fibers afforded nanocomposites with high electrical conductivity and dielectric constant of 34.0 ± 0.5 S/cm and 65.3 ± 5 respectively. The morphology of these materials was analyzed using SEM and HRTEM and electronic properties were analyzed using UV-Vis spectroscopy.
The 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage specifies that communities are to be full partners in efforts to safeguard their intangible cultural heritage. Yet the notion of safeguarding has been complicated by the politics and mechanisms of digital circulation. Based on fieldwork in British Columbia and Thailand, I show that community-based productions of multimedia aimed at documenting, transmitting, and revitalizing intangible heritage are productive spaces in which local cultural property rights discourses are initiated and articulated. I argue that digital heritage initiatives can support decision making about the circulation—or restriction—of digital cultural heritage while drawing attention to the complexities of safeguarding heritage in the digital age.
In the early twentieth century, Australians strove to create a rural civilisation through state legislation to encourage rural closer settlement. The fantasy that Australia might one day support a rural population of perhaps hundreds of millions endured despite the overwhelmingly urbanised character of the nation and the harsh realities of its environment. This rural dream was present not merely in the discourse surrounding the rural settlement imperative, but also inflected the language and modes of urban reform, as planners sought to ‘ruralise’ the urban environment to reflect something distinctive about Australian life. Previous scholarship addressing the rural ideal in Australian history, as well as urban history, has failed to interrogate these links. This article illuminates the power and ideological reach of rurality in the Australian nation-building project and pushes the boundaries of ‘rural history’ by considering the ways in which reformers sought to extend a projected Australian ‘rural civilisation’ into the cities.
Pregnancy outcome and characteristics of women who conceive following subfertility treatment remains a subject of great interest. We analyzed these variables among 199 women who delivered a registerable twin birth compared with 1773 women who delivered a naturally conceived twin birth in a population-based obstetric cohort drawn from around Oxford, England. Treatment was restricted to conceptions involving simple ovulation induction only. Treated mothers were of significantly higher social class and older, more likely to deliver girls and to be delivered by cesarean section, and significantly less likely to be smokers at the time of antenatal booking and to have delivered previous pregnancies. Pregnancy outcome was similar between the two groups for most measures, with the exception of birthweight which was lower in treated twins, though not significantly so. Overall the results are reassuring with respect to outcome in twin pregnancies following simple ovulation induction.
Data are reported on the relationship between cigarette smoking and other health-related behaviours and time to conception in a population-based sample of women who acted as a control group in a case-control study of twinning. Women who continued to smoke close to the time of conception took significantly longer to become pregnant than women who never smoked or stopped smoking before the year during which they attempted to conceive. A hierarchical regression analysis performed on time-to-conception data in women who continued to smoke in the year before conception provided weak evidence for a dose–response relationship between time to conception and number of cigarettes smoked per day. No significant relationships were found between time to conception and other health-related behaviours.
A sample of 890 people aged 65 years and over living at home in the Lewisham and North Southwark Health District was interviewed using a structured schedule containing CARE organic brain syndrome and depression scales, and items dealing with anxiety symptoms. Total prevalence rates were 4.6% for cognitive impairment, 13.5% for depression, 3.7% for generalised anxiety, and 10.0% for phobic disorders. Cognitive impairment increased exponentially with age, and was associated with lower occupational class. There was no significant association between occupational class and depression, generalised anxiety, or phobic disorder in this sample. Cognitive impairment, depression and agoraphobia were associated with significantly higher levels of dependency in the tasks of daily living.
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