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UK Biobank is a well-characterised cohort of over 500 000 participants including genetics, environmental data and imaging. An online mental health questionnaire was designed for UK Biobank participants to expand its potential.
Describe the development, implementation and results of this questionnaire.
An expert working group designed the questionnaire, using established measures where possible, and consulting a patient group. Operational criteria were agreed for defining likely disorder and risk states, including lifetime depression, mania/hypomania, generalised anxiety disorder, unusual experiences and self-harm, and current post-traumatic stress and hazardous/harmful alcohol use.
A total of 157 366 completed online questionnaires were available by August 2017. Participants were aged 45–82 (53% were ≥65 years) and 57% women. Comparison of self-reported diagnosed mental disorder with a contemporary study shows a similar prevalence, despite respondents being of higher average socioeconomic status. Lifetime depression was a common finding, with 24% (37 434) of participants meeting criteria and current hazardous/harmful alcohol use criteria were met by 21% (32 602), whereas other criteria were met by less than 8% of the participants. There was extensive comorbidity among the syndromes. Mental disorders were associated with a high neuroticism score, adverse life events and long-term illness; addiction and bipolar affective disorder in particular were associated with measures of deprivation.
The UK Biobank questionnaire represents a very large mental health survey in itself, and the results presented here show high face validity, although caution is needed because of selection bias. Built into UK Biobank, these data intersect with other health data to offer unparalleled potential for crosscutting biomedical research involving mental health.
When 2017 Hurricane Harvey struck the coastline of Texas on August 25, 2017, it resulted in 88 fatalities and more than US $125 billion in damage to infrastructure. The floods associated with the storm created a toxic mix of chemicals, sewage and other biohazards, and over 6 million cubic meters of garbage in Houston alone. The level of biohazard exposure and injuries from trauma among persons residing in affected areas was widespread and likely contributed to increases in emergency department (ED) visits in Houston and cities receiving hurricane evacuees. We investigated medical surge resulting from these evacuations in Dallas–Fort Worth (DFW) metroplex EDs.
We used data sourced from the North Texas Syndromic Surveillance Region 2/3 in ESSENCE to investigate ED visit surge following the storm in DFW hospitals because this area received evacuees from the 60 counties with disaster declarations due to the storm. We used the interrupted time series (ITS) analysis to estimate the magnitude and duration of the ED surge. ITS was applied to all ED visits in DFW and visits made by patients residing in any of the 60 counties with disaster declarations due to the storm. The DFW metropolitan statistical area included 55 hospitals. Time series analyses examined data from March 1, 2017–January 6, 2018 with focus on the storm impact period, August 14–September 15, 2017. Data from before, during, and after the storm were visualized spatially and temporally to characterize magnitude, duration, and spatial variation of medical surge attributable to Hurricane Harvey.
During the study period overall, ED visits in the DFW area rose immediately by about 11% (95% CI: 9%, 13%), amounting to ~16 500 excess total visits before returning to the baseline on September 21, 2017. Visits by patients identified as residing in disaster declaration counties to DFW hospitals rose immediately by 127% (95% CI: 125%, 129%), amounting to 654 excess visits by September 29, 2017, when visits returned to the baseline. A spatial analysis revealed that evacuated patients were strongly clustered (Moran’s I = 0.35, P < 0.0001) among 5 of the counties with disaster declarations in the 11-day window during the storm surge.
The observed increase in ED visits in DFW due to Hurricane Harvey and ensuing evacuation was significant. Anticipating medical surge following large-scale hurricanes is critical for community preparedness planning. Coordinated planning across stakeholders is necessary to safeguard the population and for a skillful response to medical surge needs. Plans that address hurricane response, in particular, should have contingencies for support beyond the expected disaster areas.
We investigate the factors associated with the occurrence and abundance of external and blood parasites in African penguins (Spheniscus demersus), an endangered seabird that breeds exclusively on the coasts of Namibia and South Africa. External parasites were collected using the dust-ruffling method from 171 African Penguins admitted at a rehabilitation facility in the Western Cape, South Africa. Additionally, blood smears were obtained upon admission and weekly during rehabilitation and examined for blood parasites. Fleas Parapsyllus longicornis humboldti, ticks Ornithodoros capensis and lice Austrogoniodes demersus were recovered from 93, 63 and 40%, respectively, of the penguins upon admission to the centre. Rescue location and age group were identified as significant determinants of flea abundance, whereas month of admission was a significant determinant of tick abundance. Blood parasites were also common on admission, with Babesia being the most frequent (46% prevalence) whereas Borrelia was recorded sporadically (1.2%) and Plasmodium was recorded once. The prevalence and abundance of ticks on admission was positively associated with Babesia infection on admission. Our findings demonstrate the variability and contributing factor of parasite infections in an endangered species of penguin, and highlight the need for additional research on the parasite–host dynamics involving these potential disease vectors.
Studies suggest that alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorders have distinct genetic backgrounds.
We examined whether polygenic risk scores (PRS) for consumption and problem subscales of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT-C, AUDIT-P) in the UK Biobank (UKB; N = 121 630) correlate with alcohol outcomes in four independent samples: an ascertained cohort, the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA; N = 6850), and population-based cohorts: Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC; N = 5911), Generation Scotland (GS; N = 17 461), and an independent subset of UKB (N = 245 947). Regression models and survival analyses tested whether the PRS were associated with the alcohol-related outcomes.
In COGA, AUDIT-P PRS was associated with alcohol dependence, AUD symptom count, maximum drinks (R2 = 0.47–0.68%, p = 2.0 × 10−8–1.0 × 10−10), and increased likelihood of onset of alcohol dependence (hazard ratio = 1.15, p = 4.7 × 10−8); AUDIT-C PRS was not an independent predictor of any phenotype. In ALSPAC, the AUDIT-C PRS was associated with alcohol dependence (R2 = 0.96%, p = 4.8 × 10−6). In GS, AUDIT-C PRS was a better predictor of weekly alcohol use (R2 = 0.27%, p = 5.5 × 10−11), while AUDIT-P PRS was more associated with problem drinking (R2 = 0.40%, p = 9.0 × 10−7). Lastly, AUDIT-P PRS was associated with ICD-based alcohol-related disorders in the UKB subset (R2 = 0.18%, p < 2.0 × 10−16).
AUDIT-P PRS was associated with a range of alcohol-related phenotypes across population-based and ascertained cohorts, while AUDIT-C PRS showed less utility in the ascertained cohort. We show that AUDIT-P is genetically correlated with both use and misuse and demonstrate the influence of ascertainment schemes on PRS analyses.
A consensus workshop on low-calorie sweeteners (LCS) was held in November 2018 where seventeen experts (the panel) discussed three themes identified as key to the science and policy of LCS: (1) weight management and glucose control; (2) consumption, safety and perception; (3) nutrition policy. The aims were to identify the reliable facts on LCS, suggest research gaps and propose future actions. The panel agreed that the safety of LCS is demonstrated by a substantial body of evidence reviewed by regulatory experts and current levels of consumption, even for high users, are within agreed safety margins. However, better risk communication is needed. More emphasis is required on the role of LCS in helping individuals reduce their sugar and energy intake, which is a public health priority. Based on reviews of clinical evidence to date, the panel concluded that LCS can be beneficial for weight management when they are used to replace sugar in products consumed in the diet (without energy substitution). The available evidence suggests no grounds for concerns about adverse effects of LCS on sweet preference, appetite or glucose control; indeed, LCS may improve diabetic control and dietary compliance. Regarding effects on the human gut microbiota, data are limited and do not provide adequate evidence that LCS affect gut health at doses relevant to human use. The panel identified research priorities, including collation of the totality of evidence on LCS and body weight control, monitoring and modelling of LCS intakes, impacts on sugar reduction and diet quality and developing effective communication strategies to foster informed choice. There is also a need to reconcile policy discrepancies between organisations and reduce regulatory hurdles that impede low-energy product development and reformulation.
The prevalence and impact of motor coordination difficulties in children with copy number variants associated with neurodevelopmental disorders (ND-CNVs) remains unknown. This study aims to advance understanding of motor coordination difficulties in children with ND-CNVs and establish relationships between intelligence quotient (IQ) and psychopathology.
169 children with an ND-CNV (67% male, median age = 8.88 years, range 6.02–14.81) and 72 closest-in-age unaffected siblings (controls; 55% male, median age = 10.41 years, s.d. = 3.04, range 5.89–14.75) were assessed with the Developmental Coordination Disorder Questionnaire, alongside psychiatric interviews and standardised assessments of IQ.
The children with ND-CNVs had poorer coordination ability (b = 28.98, p < 0.001) and 91% of children with an ND-CNV screened positive for suspected developmental coordination disorder, compared to 19% of controls (OR = 42.53, p < 0.001). There was no difference in coordination ability between ND-CNV genotypes (F = 1.47, p = 0.184). Poorer coordination in children with ND-CNV was associated with more attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (β = −0.18, p = 0.021) and autism spectrum disorder trait (β = −0.46, p < 0.001) symptoms, along with lower full-scale (ß = 0.21, p = 0.011), performance (β = −0.20, p = 0.015) and verbal IQ (β = 0.17, p = 0.036). Mediation analysis indicated that coordination ability was a full mediator of anxiety symptoms (69% mediated, p = 0.012), and a partial mediator of ADHD (51%, p = 0.001) and autism spectrum disorder trait symptoms (66%, p < 0.001) as well as full scale IQ (40%, p = 0.002), performance IQ (40%, p = 0.005) and verbal IQ (38%, p = 0.006) scores.
The findings indicate that poor motor coordination is highly prevalent and closely linked to risk of mental health disorder and lower intellectual function in children with ND-CNVs. Future research should explore whether early interventions for poor coordination ability could ameliorate neurodevelopmental risk.
Why do hosts vary so much in parasite burden, how does this variation translate to variation in host demographic rates and parasite transmission, and how does varied transmission intensity impact selection upon immune defence of individuals? The theoretical foundations of disease ecology provide predictions for the answers to these questions, yet testing such predictions with empirical data poses many challenges. We show how the long-term ecological and genetic study of the unmanaged Soay sheep of St Kilda has addressed fundamental questions in disease ecology, with longitudinal data on parasite burden, immune defence, condition, survival, and fecundity of >10,000 individuals. The rich individual-scale data are complemented by >30 years of data on sheep population dynamics and genetic diversity as well as parasite dynamics and diversity. Population-scale work has documented the range of parasite species present and the contribution of the most prevalent and virulent parasites to regulating sheep dynamics. Individual-scale work has identified drivers of variation in parasite burden and tested hypotheses about costs and benefits of defence in a quest to determine how natural selection has shaped immune function of the sheep.
Retrospective voting is vital for democracy. But, are the objective performance metrics widely thought to be relevant for retrospection—such as the performance of the economy, criminal justice system, and schools, to name a few—valid criteria for evaluating government performance? That is, do political coalitions actually have the power to influence the performance metrics used for retrospection on the timeline introduced by elections? Using difference-in-difference and regression discontinuity techniques, we find that US states governed by Democrats and those by Republicans perform equally well on economic, education, crime, family, social, environmental, and health outcomes on the timeline introduced by elections (2–4 years downstream). Our results suggest that voters may struggle to truly hold government coalitions accountable, as objective performance metrics appear to be largely out of the immediate control of political coalitions.
To analyse the incidence of second primary lung cancer following treatment for laryngeal cancer and to identify risk factors for its development.
Retrospective case series.
The five-year actuarial incidence of second primary lung cancer was 8 per cent (1.6 per cent per year). This was associated with a very poor median survival of seven months following diagnosis. Supraglottic tumours were associated with an increased risk of second primary lung cancer compared to glottic tumours in both univariate (hazard ratio = 4.32, p = 0.005) and multivariate analyses (hazard ratio = 4.14, p = 0.03).
Second primary lung cancer occurs at a rate of 1.6 per cent per year following a diagnosis of laryngeal cancer, and this is associated in a statistically significant manner with supraglottic primary tumour. The recent National Lung Cancer Screening Trial suggests a survival advantage of 20 per cent at five years with annual screening using low-dose computed tomography scanning of the chest in a comparable cohort to ours. These findings have the potential to inform post-treatment surveillance protocols in the future.
Human and animal research both operate within established standards. In the United States, criticism of the human research environment and recorded abuses of human research subjects served as the impetus for the establishment of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, and the resulting Belmont Report. The Belmont Report established key ethical principles to which human research should adhere: respect for autonomy, obligations to beneficence and justice, and special protections for vulnerable individuals and populations. While current guidelines appropriately aim to protect the individual interests of human participants in research, no similar, comprehensive, and principled effort has addressed the use of (nonhuman) animals in research. Although published policies regarding animal research provide relevant regulatory guidance, the lack of a fundamental effort to explore the ethical issues and principles that should guide decisions about the potential use of animals in research has led to unclear and disparate policies. Here, we explore how the ethical principles outlined in the Belmont Report could be applied consistently to animals. We describe how concepts such as respect for autonomy and obligations to beneficence and justice could be applied to animals, as well as how animals are entitled to special protections as a result of their vulnerability.
Major depressive disorder and neuroticism (Neu) share a large genetic basis. We sought to determine whether this shared basis could be decomposed to identify genetic factors that are specific to depression.
We analysed summary statistics from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of depression (from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, 23andMe and UK Biobank) and compared them with GWAS of Neu (from UK Biobank). First, we used a pairwise GWAS analysis to classify variants as associated with only depression, with only Neu or with both. Second, we estimated partial genetic correlations to test whether the depression's genetic link with other phenotypes was explained by shared overlap with Neu.
We found evidence that most genomic regions (25/37) associated with depression are likely to be shared with Neu. The overlapping common genetic variance of depression and Neu was genetically correlated primarily with psychiatric disorders. We found that the genetic contributions to depression, that were not shared with Neu, were positively correlated with metabolic phenotypes and cardiovascular disease, and negatively correlated with the personality trait conscientiousness. After removing shared genetic overlap with Neu, depression still had a specific association with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, coronary artery disease and age of first birth. Independent of depression, Neu had specific genetic correlates in ulcerative colitis, pubertal growth, anorexia and education.
Our findings demonstrate that, while genetic risk factors for depression are largely shared with Neu, there are also non-Neu-related features of depression that may be useful for further patient or phenotypic stratification.
Most research on the causes of women's underrepresentation examines one of two stages of the political pipeline: the development of nascent political ambition or specific aspects of the campaign and election process. In this article, we make a different kind of contribution. We build on the growing literature on gender, psychology, and representation to provide an analysis of what kinds of men and women make it through the political pipeline at each stage. This allows us to draw some conclusions about the ways in which the overall process is similar and different for women and men. Using surveys of the general U.S. population (N = 1,939) and elected municipal officials such as mayors and city councilors (N = 2,354) that measure the distribution of Big Five personality traits, we find that roughly the same types of men and women have nascent political ambition; there is just an intercept shift for sex. In contrast, male and female elected officials have different personality profiles. These differences do not reflect underlying distributions in the general population or the population of political aspirants. In short, our data suggest that socialization into political ambition is similar for men and women, but campaign and election processes are not.
To determine the effect of three psycholinguistic variables—lexical frequency, age of acquisition (AoA), and neighborhood density (ND)—on lexical-semantic processing in individuals with non-fluent (nfvPPA), logopenic (lvPPA), and semantic primary progressive aphasia (svPPA). Identifying the scope and independence of these features can provide valuable information about the organization of words in our mind and brain.
We administered a lexical decision task—with words carefully selected to permit distinguishing lexical frequency, AoA, and orthographic ND effects—to 41 individuals with PPA (13 nfvPPA, 14 lvPPA, 14 svPPA) and 25 controls.
Of the psycholinguistic variables studied, lexical frequency had the largest influence on lexical-semantic processing, but AoA and ND also played an independent role. The results reflect a brain-language relationship with different proportional effects of frequency, AoA, and ND in the PPA variants, in a pattern that is consistent with the organization of the mental lexicon. Individuals with nfvPPA and lvPPA experienced an ND effect consistent with the role of inferior frontal and temporoparietal regions in lexical analysis and word form processing. By contrast, individuals with svPPA experienced an AoA effect consistent with the role of the anterior temporal lobe in semantic processing.
The findings are in line with a hierarchical mental lexicon structure with a conceptual (semantic) and a lexeme (word-form) level, such that a selective deficit at one of these levels of the mental lexicon manifests differently in lexical-semantic processing performance, consistent with the affected language-specific brain region in each PPA variant.
To develop a physiological data-driven model for early identification of impending cardiac arrest in neonates and infants with cardiac disease hospitalised in the cardiovascular ICU.
We performed a single-institution retrospective cohort study (11 January 2013–16 September 2015) of patients ≤1 year old with cardiac disease who were hospitalised in the cardiovascular ICU at a tertiary care children’s hospital. Demographics and diagnostic codes of cardiac arrest were obtained via the electronic health record. Diagnosis of cardiac arrest was validated by expert clinician review. Minute-to-minute physiological monitoring data were recorded via bedside monitors. A generalized linear model was used to compute a minute by minute risk score. Training and test data sets both included data from patients who did and did not develop cardiac arrest. An optimal risk-score threshold was derived based on the model’s discriminatory capacity for impending arrest versus non-arrest. Model performance measures included sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, likelihood ratios, and post-test probability of arrest.
The final model consisting of multiple clinical parameters was able to identify impending cardiac arrest at least 2 hours prior to the event with an overall accuracy of 75% (sensitivity = 61%, specificity = 80%) and observed an increase in probability of detection of cardiac arrest from a pre-test probability of 9.6% to a post-test probability of 21.2%.
Our findings demonstrate that a predictive model using physiologic monitoring data in neonates and infants with cardiac disease hospitalised in the paediatric cardiovascular ICU can identify impending cardiac arrest on average 17 hours prior to arrest.
The SCN5A gene is implicated in many arrhythmogenic and cardiomyopathic processes. We identified a novel SCN5A variant in a family with significant segregation in individuals affected with progressive sinus and atrioventricular nodal disease, atrial arrhythmia, dilated cardiomyopathy, and early sudden cardiac arrest.
A patient pedigree was created following the clinical evaluation of three affected individuals, two monozygotic twins and a paternal half-brother, which lead to the evaluation of a paternal half-sister (four siblings with the same father and three mothers) all of whom experienced varying degrees of atrial arrhythmias, conduction disease, and dilated cardiomyopathy in addition to a paternal history of unexplained death in his 50s with similar autopsy findings. The index male underwent sequencing of 58 genes associated with cardiomyopathies. Sanger sequencing was used to provide data for bases with insufficient coverage and for bases in some known regions of genomic segmental duplications. All clinically significant and novel variants were confirmed by independent Sanger sequencing.
All relatives tested were shown to have the same SCN5A variant of unknown significance (p. Asp197His) and the monozygotic twins shared a co-occurring NEXN (p. Glu575*). Segregation analysis demonstrates likely pathogenic trait for the SCN5A variant with an additional possible role for the NEXN variant in combination.
There is compelling clinical evidence suggesting that the SCN5A variant p. Asp197His may be re-classified as likely pathogenic based on the segregation analysis of our family of interest. Molecular mechanism studies are pending.
Hurricane Maria caused catastrophic damage in Puerto Rico, increasing the risk for morbidity and mortality in the post-impact period. We aimed to establish a syndromic surveillance system to describe the number and type of visits at 2 emergency health-care settings in the same hospital system in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
We implemented a hurricane surveillance system by interviewing patients with a short questionnaire about the reason for visit at a hospital emergency department and associated urgent care clinic in the 6 mo after Hurricane Maria. We then evaluated the system by comparing findings with data from the electronic medical record (EMR) system for the same time period.
The hurricane surveillance system captured information from 5116 participants across the 2 sites, representing 17% of all visits captured in the EMR for the same period. Most visits were associated with acute illness/symptoms (79%), followed by injury (11%). The hurricane surveillance and EMR data were similar, proportionally, by sex, age, and visit category.
The hurricane surveillance system provided timely and representative data about the number and type of visits at 2 sites. This system, or an adapted version using available electronic data, should be considered in future disaster settings.