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A new fossil site in a previously unexplored part of western Madagascar (the Beanka Protected Area) has yielded remains of many recently extinct vertebrates, including giant lemurs (Babakotia radofilai, Palaeopropithecus kelyus, Pachylemur sp., and Archaeolemur edwardsi), carnivores (Cryptoprocta spelea), the aardvark-like Plesiorycteropus sp., and giant ground cuckoos (Coua). Many of these represent considerable range extensions. Extant species that were extirpated from the region (e.g., Prolemur simus) are also present. Calibrated radiocarbon ages for 10 bones from extinct primates span the last three millennia. The largely undisturbed taphonomy of bone deposits supports the interpretation that many specimens fell in from a rock ledge above the entrance. Some primates and other mammals may have been prey items of avian predators, but human predation is also evident. Strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) suggest that fossils were local to the area. Pottery sherds and bones of extinct and extant vertebrates with cut and chop marks indicate human activity in previous centuries. Scarcity of charcoal and human artifacts suggests only occasional visitation to the site by humans. The fossil assemblage from this site is unusual in that, while it contains many sloth lemurs, it lacks ratites, hippopotami, and crocodiles typical of nearly all other Holocene subfossil sites on Madagascar.
Consumption of sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) in infants and young children are less explored in Asian populations. The Growing in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) cohort study examined associations between SSB intakes at ages 18 months and 5 years with adiposity measures at age 6 years. We studied Singaporean infants/children with SSB intake assessed by food frequency questionnaires (FFQ) at ages 18 months (n=555) and 5 years (n=767). The median (interquartile range) for SSB intakes is 28(5.5-98) ml at age 18 months and 111 (57-198) ml at age 5 years. Associations between SSB intakes (100 ml/day increments and tertile categories) and adiposity measures (BMI standard deviation scores (s.d. unit), sum of skinfolds (SSFs)) and overweight/obesity status were examined using multivariable linear and Poisson regression models, respectively. After adjusting for confounders and additionally for energy intake, SSB intakes at age 18 months were not significantly associated with later adiposity measures and overweight/obesity outcomes. In contrast, at age 5 years, SSB intakes when modelled as 100ml/day increments were associated with higher BMI by 0.09 (95% CI: 0.02, 0.16) s.d. unit, higher SSF thickness by 0.68 (0.06, 1.44) mm, and increased risk for overweight/obesity by 1.2 times (1.07, 1.23) at age 6 years. Trends were consistent with SSB intakes modelled as categorical tertiles. In summary, SSB intake in young childhood is associated with higher risks of adiposity and risk for overweight/obesity. Public health policies working to reduce SSB consumption need to focus on prevention programs targeted at young children.
Evidence on long-term influences of maternal vitamin B12 deficiency or concentrations on infant cognition is limited. We examined associations between maternal plasma vitamin B12 and cognitive development in 24-month-old infants. Maternal plasma vitamin B12 concentrations were measured at 26–28 weeks’ gestation; infant cognitive development was assessed with the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development-III at 24 months, for 443 mother–infant pairs from the Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes cohort. Linear regressions adjusted for key confounders examined associations of maternal vitamin B12 with cognitive, receptive and expressive language, fine and gross motor subscales. Co-occurrence of maternal vitamin B12 with folate or vitamin B6 insufficiencies on child’s cognition was explored. Average maternal plasma vitamin B12 concentrations was 220·5 ± 80·5 pmol/l; 15 % and 41 % of mothers were vitamin B12 deficient (<148 pmol/l) and insufficient (148–220·9 pmol/l), respectively. Infants of mothers with vitamin B12 deficiency had 0·42 (95 % CI −0·70, −0·14) sd lower cognitive scores, compared with infants of mothers with sufficient vitamin B12. Co-occurrence of maternal vitamins B12 and B6 insufficiencies was associated with 0·37 (95 % CI −0·69, −0·06) sd lower cognitive scores in infants compared with infants of mothers sufficient in both vitamins. No significant associations were observed with other subscales. Study findings suggest the possible need to ensure adequate vitamin B12 during pregnancy. The impact of co-occurrence of maternal B-vitamins insufficiencies on early cognitive development warrants further investigation.
Current models of class II methanol masers are able to describe the brightnesses of the strongest masers and provide a basis for explaining observed line ratios. Determination of the physical parameters in the source requires observational data in many maser transitions. In order to provide observational constraints for models we searched for and detected 7 new methanol masers. This allowed us to constrain the physical parameters of the 3 sources with the greatest number of detected methanol maser lines: W3(OH), NGC6334F, and G345.01 + 1.79. The models accurately account for the fluxes of the bulk of the detected maser lines. Remaining discrepancies most probably reflect the fact that the most prominent components of the different maser lines are formed under different conditions. This is supported by comparison of the line profiles. We outline directions for future studies in the field.
Faster eating rates are associated with increased energy intake, but little is known about the relationship between children’s eating rate, food intake and adiposity. We examined whether children who eat faster consume more energy and whether this is associated with higher weight status and adiposity. We hypothesised that eating rate mediates the relationship between child weight and ad libitum energy intake. Children (n 386) from the Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes cohort participated in a video-recorded ad libitum lunch at 4·5 years to measure acute energy intake. Videos were coded for three eating-behaviours (bites, chews and swallows) to derive a measure of eating rate (g/min). BMI and anthropometric indices of adiposity were measured. A subset of children underwent MRI scanning (n 153) to measure abdominal subcutaneous and visceral adiposity. Children above/below the median eating rate were categorised as slower and faster eaters, and compared across body composition measures. There was a strong positive relationship between eating rate and energy intake (r 0·61, P<0·001) and a positive linear relationship between eating rate and children’s BMI status. Faster eaters consumed 75 % more energy content than slower eating children (Δ548 kJ (Δ131 kcal); 95 % CI 107·6, 154·4, P<0·001), and had higher whole-body (P<0·05) and subcutaneous abdominal adiposity (Δ118·3 cc; 95 % CI 24·0, 212·7, P=0·014). Mediation analysis showed that eating rate mediates the link between child weight and energy intake during a meal (b 13·59; 95 % CI 7·48, 21·83). Children who ate faster had higher energy intake, and this was associated with increased BMI z-score and adiposity.
Childhood and adolescence coincide with rapid structural and functional maturation of brain networks implicated in Theory of Mind (ToM); however, the impact of paediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) on the development of these higher order skills is not well understood. ToM can be partitioned into conative ToM, defined as the ability to understand how indirect speech acts involving irony and empathy are used to influence the mental or affective state of the listener; and affective ToM, concerned with understanding that facial expressions are often used for social purposes to convey emotions that we want people to think we feel. In a sample of 84 children with mild-severe TBI and 40 typically developing controls, this study examined the effect of paediatric TBI on affective and conative ToM; and evaluated the respective contributions of injury-related factors (injury severity/lesion location) and non-injury-related environmental variables (socio-economic status (SES)/family functioning) to long-term ToM outcomes. Results showed that the poorest ToM outcomes were documented in association with mild-complicated and moderate TBI, rather than severe TBI. Lesion location and SES did not significantly contribute to conative or affective ToM. Post-injury family affective responsiveness was the strongest and most significant predictor of conative ToM. Results suggest that clinicians should exercise caution when prognosticating based on early clinical indicators, and that group and individual-level outcome prediction should incorporate assessment of a range of injury- and non-injury-related factors. Moreover, the affective quality of post-injury family interactions represents a potentially modifiable risk factor, and might be a useful target for family-centred interventions designed to optimise social cognitive outcomes after paediatric TBI.
Evidence from both human and animal studies has shown that the prenatal and early postnatal environments influence susceptibility to chronic disease in later life and suggests that epigenetic processes are an important mechanism by which the environment alters long-term disease risk. Epigenetic processes, including DNA methylation, histone modification and non-coding RNAs, play a central role in regulating gene expression. The epigenome is highly sensitive to environmental factors in early life, such as nutrition, stress, endocrine disruption and pollution, and changes in the epigenome can induce long-term changes in gene expression and phenotype. In this review we focus on how the early life nutritional environment can alter the epigenome leading to an altered susceptibility to disease in later life.
Both maternal 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations during pregnancy and
placental amino acid transporter gene expression have been associated with
development of the offspring in terms of body composition and bone structure.
Several amino acid transporter genes have vitamin D response elements in their
promoters suggesting the possible linkage of these two mechanisms. We aimed to
establish whether maternal 25(OH)D and vitamin D-binding protein (VDBP) levels
relate to expression of placental amino acid transporters. RNA was extracted
from 102 placental samples collected in the Southampton Women's Survey,
and gene expression was analysed using quantitative real-time PCR. Gene
expression data were normalised to the geometric mean of three housekeeping
genes, and related to maternal factors and childhood body composition. Maternal
serum 25(OH)D and VDBP levels were measured by radioimmunoassay. Maternal
25(OH)D and VDBP levels were positively associated with placental expression of
specific genes involved in amino acid transport. Maternal 25(OH)D and VDBP
concentrations were correlated with the expression of specific placental amino
acid transporters, and thus may be involved in the regulation of amino acid
transfer to the fetus. The positive correlation of VDBP levels and placental
transporter expression suggests that delivery of vitamin D to the placenta may
be important. This exploratory study identifies placental amino acid
transporters which may be altered in response to modifiable maternal factors and
provides a basis for further studies.
Various environmental factors have been associated with the timing of eruption of primary dentition, but the evidence to date comes from small studies with limited information on potential risk factors. We aimed to investigate associations between tooth emergence patterns and pre-conception, pregnancy and postnatal influences. Dentition patterns were recorded at ages 1 and 2 years in 2915 children born to women in the Southampton Women’s Survey from whom information had been collected on maternal factors before conception and during pregnancy. In mutually adjusted regression models we found that: children were more dentally advanced at ages 1 and 2 years if their mothers had smoked during pregnancy or they were longer at birth; mothers of children whose dental development was advanced at age 2 years tended to have poorer socioeconomic circumstances, and to have reported a slower walking speed pre-pregnancy; and children of mothers of Asian ethnicity had later tooth development than those of white mothers. The findings add to the evidence of environmental impacts on the timing of the eruption of primary dentition in indicating that maternal smoking during pregnancy, socio-economic status and physical activity (assessed by reported walking speed) may influence the child’s primary dentition. Early life factors, including size at birth are also associated with dentition patterns, as is maternal ethnicity.
Studies have suggested that maternal PUFA status during pregnancy may influence early childhood allergic diseases, although findings are inconsistent. We examined the relationship between maternal PUFA status and risk of allergic diseases in early childhood in an Asian cohort. Maternal plasma samples from the Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes mother–offspring cohort were assayed at 26–28 weeks of gestation for relative abundance of PUFA. Offspring (n 960) were followed up from 3 weeks to 18 months of age, and clinical outcomes of potential allergic diseases (rhinitis, eczema and wheezing) were assessed by repeated questionnaires. Skin prick testing (SPT) was also performed at the age of 18 months. Any allergic disease with positive SPT was defined as having any one of the clinical outcomes plus a positive SPT. The prevalence of a positive SPT, rhinitis, eczema, wheezing and any allergic disease with positive SPT was 14·1 % (103/728), 26·5 % (214/808), 17·6 % (147/833), 10·9 % (94/859) and 9·4 % (62/657), respectively. After adjustment for confounders, maternal total n-3, n-6 PUFA status and the n-6:n-3 PUFA ratio were not significantly associated with offspring rhinitis, eczema, wheezing, a positive SPT and having any allergic disease with positive SPT in the offspring (P>0·01 for all). A weak trend of higher maternal n-3 PUFA being associated with higher risk of allergic diseases with positive SPT in offspring was observed. These findings do not support the hypothesis that the risk of early childhood allergic diseases is modified by variation in maternal n-3 and n-6 PUFA status during pregnancy in an Asian population.
The largely deforested island of Cebu, Philippines, hosts a forest-dwelling hawk-owl identified in the literature as Ninox philippensis spilonota but which is in fact a Cebu island endemic species, soon to be named. To determine the current distribution and habitat requirements of this hawk-owl, the five largest of 11 remaining forest patches on Cebu were surveyed between March and June 2011, involving 64 post-sunset 500-m walked transects with playback and habitat assessments. Radio-telemetry studies were also conducted on 10 owls but only for 3–5 days per owl as they removed the transmitters. A total of 52 owls were located across all five forests (at 16 sites two owls responded together to playback) but only the largest forest, Alcoy, contained enough transects for analyses of habitat in relation to owl distribution. Alcoy stands on steep-sided hills and some planting of exotic species occurs within it. Owls were detected in forest interior, forest edge and forest-plantation mix in Alcoy, and on ridges and in gullies despite lower tree densities and greater proximity to clearings in the gullies. However, parts of Alcoy experience strong winds, and owl occupancy decreased significantly with increasing wind speed. Home ranges for the 10 radio-tagged owls were estimated to cover ∼10 ha, although given the short tracking periods this may be an underestimate. Suitable forest studied covers roughly 1,670 ha, with six unstudied forests totalling 250 ha, so assuming a pair every 10 ha would give a tentative global population estimate of ∼ 200 pairs of Cebu Hawk-owls, and even fewer if home ranges are larger than estimated. This, coupled with continuing habitat degradation, triggers the IUCN Red List category ‘Endangered’. Tree cavities suitable for nests may be limiting, and nest-box provision could be explored, provided this does not increase predator pressure on other rare species.
The first edition of this work, which outlines China's treaty engagements with various foreign powers, was published by Sir Edward Hertslet (1824–1902) in 1896. The two-volume third edition reissued here was published by his son Godfrey in 1908, and took account of new treaties in the intervening twelve years which were relevant to the Chinese sphere of influence. The work is remarkably inclusive, and cross-refers with similar treaties between China and different Western powers, as well as containing ancillary material such as a ground-plan of the foreign legation district in Beijing, and British government documents relevant to the various treaties. This edition is of particular interest for students of international law and diplomacy, as it covers the regulations governing relations between China and Britain in the year in which the last imperial Chinese ruler ascended the throne. Volume 1 contains the treaties.