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Prenatal hormones have been proposed as key factors impacting child development as well as long-term health and disease. Digit ratio (the ratio of the lengths of the second to fourth digits; 2D:4D) has been proposed as a sexually dimorphic, noninvasive marker of prenatal androgen exposure that can be reliably measured in children and adults. To date, few longitudinal pregnancy cohort studies have examined childhood digit ratio in relation to other relevant measures including prenatal hormones and androgen-sensitive outcomes. To augment the current literature on this topic, we measured right-hand digit ratio in 4-year-old children participating in The Infant Development and the Environment Study, a multicenter longitudinal cohort study that has been following mother–child dyads since the first trimester of pregnancy (n = 321). We assessed sex differences in digit ratio and fit multivariable linear regression models to examine digit ratio in relation to: (1) child sex; (2) maternal sex steroid hormone concentrations in early pregnancy; (3) newborn anogenital distance, another proposed measure of sensitivity to prenatal androgens; and (4) gender-typical play behavior as measured by the Preschool Activities Inventory (PSAI) at age 4. We observed no sex difference in digit ratio; the mean 2D:4D was 0.97 ± 0.05 mm in both sexes. Furthermore, digit ratio was not associated with maternal sex steroid concentrations in early pregnancy, anogenital distance in either sex, or PSAI scores in either sex in covariate-adjusted models. In conclusion, we observed no evidence that early childhood digit ratio was associated with child sex or hormone-sensitive measures in this cohort.
Megan Gunnar's pubertal stress recalibration hypothesis was supported in a recent study of previously institutionalized (PI) youth such that increases in pubertal stage were associated with increases in cortisol stress reactivity. This work provides evidence that puberty may open up a window of recalibration for PI youth, resulting in a shift from a blunted to a more typical cortisol stress response. Using the same sample (N = 132), the current study aimed to elucidate whether increases in cortisol are associated with increases in adaptive functioning or whether they further underlie potential links to developmental psychopathology. Specifically, we examined the bidirectional associations between cortisol stress reactivity and both internalizing and externalizing symptoms across three timepoints during the pubertal period. Youth reported on their own internalizing symptoms and parents reported on youths’ externalizing symptoms. Cortisol reactivity was assessed during the Trier social stress test. Analyses revealed no associations between cortisol reactivity and externalizing symptoms across puberty for PI youth. However, longitudinal bidirectional associations did emerge for internalizing symptoms such that increases in cortisol reactivity predicted increases in internalizing symptoms and increases in internalizing symptoms predicted increases in cortisol reactivity. Findings suggest that recalibrating to more normative levels of cortisol reactivity may not always be associated with adaptive outcomes for PI youth.
There is emerging evidence that the development of problematic aggression in childhood may be associated with specific physiological stress response patterns, with both biological overactivation and underactivation implicated. This study tested associations between sex-specific patterns of stress responses across the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis and peer nominations of aggression among 271 kindergarten children (Mean age = 5.32 years; 52% Female; 44% White). Upon entry to kindergarten, children participated in a multidomain standardized stress paradigm. Changes in pre-ejection period (PEP) and salivary cortisol were assessed. On a separate day, children provided peer ratings of physical and relational aggression in a standardized interview. As expected, there was a significant three-way interaction between PEP, cortisol reactivity, and sex, but only for physical aggression. Among boys, cortisol reactivity was positively associated with physical aggression only for those with higher SNS reactivity. Findings suggest that for boys, asymmetrical and symmetrical HPA/SNS reactivity may be associated with lower and higher risk for peer-directed physical aggression, respectively. Understanding the complex associations between multisystem physiology, child sex and peer-directed aggression in early childhood may offer insight into individual differences underlying the emergence of behavioral dysregulation in early peer contexts.
Optical tracking systems typically trade off between astrometric precision and field of view. In this work, we showcase a networked approach to optical tracking using very wide field-of-view imagers that have relatively low astrometric precision on the scheduled OSIRIS-REx slingshot manoeuvre around Earth on 22 Sep 2017. As part of a trajectory designed to get OSIRIS-REx to NEO 101955 Bennu, this flyby event was viewed from 13 remote sensors spread across Australia and New Zealand to promote triangulatable observations. Each observatory in this portable network was constructed to be as lightweight and portable as possible, with hardware based off the successful design of the Desert Fireball Network. Over a 4-h collection window, we gathered 15 439 images of the night sky in the predicted direction of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Using a specially developed streak detection and orbit determination data pipeline, we detected 2 090 line-of-sight observations. Our fitted orbit was determined to be within about 10 km of orbital telemetry along the observed 109 262 km length of OSIRIS-REx trajectory, and thus demonstrating the impressive capability of a networked approach to Space Surveillance and Tracking.
Medicaid is uniquely equipped to serve low-income populations. We identify four features that form the “soul” of Medicaid, explain how the administration is testing them, and explore challenges in accountability contributing to this struggle. We highlight the work of watchdogs acting to protect Medicaid and conclude with considerations for future health reform.
Background: Peritoneal dialysis is a type of dialysis performed by patients in their homes; patients receive training from dialysis clinic staff. Peritonitis is a serious complication of peritoneal dialysis, most commonly caused by gram-positive organisms. During March‒April 2019, a dialysis provider organization transitioned ~400 patients to a different manufacturer of peritoneal dialysis equipment and supplies (from product A to B). Shortly thereafter, patients experienced an increase in peritonitis episodes, caused predominantly by gram-negative organisms. In May 2019, we initiated an investigation to determine the source. Methods: We conducted case finding, reviewed medical records, observed peritoneal dialysis procedures and trainings, and performed patient home visits and interviews. A 1:1 matched case–control study was performed in 1 state. A case had ≥2 of the following: (1) positive peritoneal fluid culture, (2) high peritoneal fluid white cell count with ≥50% polymorphonuclear cells, or (3) cloudy peritoneal fluid and/or abdominal pain. Controls were matched to cases by week of clinic visit. Conditional logistic regression was used to estimate univariate matched odds ratios (mOR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). We conducted microbiological testing of peritoneal dialysis fluid bags to rule out product contamination. Results: During March‒September 2019, we identified 157 cases of peritonitis across 15 clinics in 2 states (attack rate≍39%). Staphylococcus spp (14%), Serratia spp (12%) and Klebsiella spp (6.3%) were the most common pathogens. Steps to perform peritoneal dialysis using product B differed from product A in several key areas; however, no common errors in practice were identified to explain the outbreak. Patient training on transitioning products was not standardized. Outcomes of the 73 cases in the case–control study included hospitalization (77%), peritoneal dialysis failure (40%), and death (7%). The median duration of training prior to product transition was 1 day for cases and controls (P = .86). Transitioning to product B (mOR, 18.00; 95% CI, 2.40‒134.83), using product B (mOR, 18.26; 95% CI, 3.86‒∞), drain-line reuse (mOR, 4.67; 95% CI, 1.34‒16.24) and performing daytime exchanges (mOR, 3.63; 95% CI, 1.71‒8.45) were associated with peritonitis. After several interventions, including transition of patients back to product A (Fig. 1), overall cases declined. Sterility testing of samples from 23 unopened product B peritoneal dialysis solution bags showed no contamination. Conclusions: Multiple factors may have contributed to this large outbreak, including a rapid transition in peritoneal dialysis products and potentially inadequate patient training. Efforts are needed to identify and incorporate best training practices, and product advances are desired to improve the safety of patient transitions between different types of peritoneal dialysis equipment.
The Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) seeks to improve population health by accelerating the translation of scientific discoveries in the laboratory and clinic into practices for the community. CTSAs achieve this goal, in part, through their pilot project programs that fund promising early career investigators and innovative early-stage research projects across the translational research spectrum. However, there have been few reports on individual pilot projects and their impacts on the investigators who receive them and no studies on the long-term impact and outcomes of pilot projects.
The Georgia CTSA funded 183 pilot projects from 2007 to 2015. We used a structured evaluation framework, the payback framework, to document the outcomes of 16 purposefully-selected pilot projects supported by the Georgia CTSA. We used a case study approach including bibliometric analyses of publications associated with the selected projects, document review, and investigator interviews.
These pilot projects had positive impact based on outcomes in five “payback categories”: (1) knowledge; (2) research targeting, capacity building, and absorption; (3) policy and product development; (4) health benefits; and (5) broader economic benefits.
Results could inform our understanding of the diversity and breadth of outcomes resulting from Georgia CTSA-supported research and provide a framework for evaluating long-term pilot project outcomes across CTSAs.
Life course research embraces the complexity of health and disease development, tackling the extensive interactions between genetics and environment. This interdisciplinary blueprint, or theoretical framework, offers a structure for research ideas and specifies relationships between related factors. Traditionally, methodological approaches attempt to reduce the complexity of these dynamic interactions and decompose health into component parts, ignoring the complex reciprocal interaction of factors that shape health over time. New methods that match the epistemological foundation of the life course framework are needed to fully explore adaptive, multilevel, and reciprocal interactions between individuals and their environment. The focus of this article is to (1) delineate the differences between lifespan and life course research, (2) articulate the importance of complex systems science as a methodological framework in the life course research toolbox to guide our research questions, (3) raise key questions that can be asked within the clinical and translational science domain utilizing this framework, and (4) provide recommendations for life course research implementation, charting the way forward. Recent advances in computational analytics, computer science, and data collection could be used to approximate, measure, and analyze the intertwining and dynamic nature of genetic and environmental factors involved in health development.
Impairments in social cognition contribute significantly to disability in schizophrenia patients (SzP). Perception of facial expressions is critical for social cognition. Intact perception requires an individual to visually scan a complex dynamic social scene for transiently moving facial expressions that may be relevant for understanding the scene. The relationship of visual scanning for these facial expressions and social cognition remains unknown.
In 39 SzP and 27 healthy controls (HC), we used eye-tracking to examine the relationship between performance on The Awareness of Social Inference Test (TASIT), which tests social cognition using naturalistic video clips of social situations, and visual scanning, measuring each individual's relative to the mean of HC. We then examined the relationship of visual scanning to the specific visual features (motion, contrast, luminance, faces) within the video clips.
TASIT performance was significantly impaired in SzP for trials involving sarcasm (p < 10−5). Visual scanning was significantly more variable in SzP than HC (p < 10−6), and predicted TASIT performance in HC (p = 0.02) but not SzP (p = 0.91), differing significantly between groups (p = 0.04). During the visual scanning, SzP were less likely to be viewing faces (p = 0.0001) and less likely to saccade to facial motion in peripheral vision (p = 0.008).
SzP show highly significant deficits in the use of visual scanning of naturalistic social scenes to inform social cognition. Alterations in visual scanning patterns may originate from impaired processing of facial motion within peripheral vision. Overall, these results highlight the utility of naturalistic stimuli in the study of social cognition deficits in schizophrenia.
Firefighting service is known to involve high rates of exposure to potentially traumatic situations, and research on mental health in firefighting populations is of critical importance in understanding the impact of occupational exposure. To date, the literature concerning prevalence of trauma-related mental disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has not distinguished between symptomology associated routine duty-related exposure and exposure to large-scale disaster. The present systematic review synthesizes a heterogeneous cross-national literature on large-scale disaster exposure in firefighters and provides support for the hypothesis that the prevalence of PTSD, major depressive disorder, and anxiety disorders are elevated in firefighters compared with rates observed in the general population. In addition, we conducted narrative synthesis concerning several commonly assessed predictive factors for disorder and found that sociodemographic factors appear to bear a weak relationship to mental disorder, while incident-related factors, such as severity and duration of disaster exposure, bear a stronger and more consistent relationship to the development of PTSD and depression in cross-national samples. Future work should expand on these preliminary findings to better understand the impact of disaster exposure in firefighting personnel.
Levels of serotonin in the body are regulated by the serotonin transporters (SERT), which are predominantly located on the presynaptic terminals of serotonin-containing neurons. Alterations in the density of SERT have been implicated in the pathophysiology of many neuropsychiatric disorders.
To evaluate 123-I mZIENT (2(S)-[(S)-2b-carbomethoxy-3b-[3′-((Z)-2-iodoethenyl)phenyl]nortropane), a novel radiopharmaceutical for imaging SERT. The bio-distribution of the radiopharmaceutical in humans was investigated and dosimetry performed.
The study includes three healthy volunteers and three patients receiving SSRIs. Whole body images obtained on a gamma camera at 10 minutes, 1, 2, 3, 6, 24 and 48 hours post administration. Dosimetry was performed. ROIs were drawn over the brain, heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, salivary glands, spleen, thyroid and intestines. Blood was sampled at 5, 15, & 30 minutes and 1, 2, 3, 6, 24 and 48 hours post administration. Urine was collected at 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 24 and 48 hours. Brain SPECT images were obtained using a neuroSPECT scanner at 4 hours, evaluated visually and analysed using ROI analysis.
High quality SPECT images can be obtained after 100–150 MBq 123-ImZEINT. Regional brain uptake was observed in midbrain and basal ganglia in healthy volunteers, consistent with the known distribution of SERT. Biodistribution images demonstrated highest uptake in the lungs, brain, liver and intestines. The effective dose was within range of other commonly used ligands and is acceptable for clinical imaging.
123-ImZIENT is a promising agent for imaging SERT in humans with acceptable dosimetry.
Lymphopenia is common in adults who have had a Fontan operation although its aetiology and clinical implications remain unknown. Previous work suggests an association between lymphopenia and both liver disease and splenomegaly. The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence of lymphopenia in adults with a Fontan circulation and evaluate its associations with risk factors and clinical outcomes. Using a retrospective cohort study design, we studied 73 adult Fontan patients (age 25.0 ± 8.4 years) who had a complete blood count and abdominal imaging performed. Patients with protein-losing enteropathy were excluded. Clinical data were extracted from hospital records. The mean white blood cell count was 6580 ± 220/ml with a mean lymphocyte count of 1223 ± 508/ml. Lymphopenia, defined as lymphocyte count <1000/ml, was present in 23 (32%) patients. Patients with lymphopenia had a lower total white blood cell count (5556 ± 2517 versus 7136 ± 1924/ml, p = 0.009) and a lower platelet count (162 ± 69 versus 208 ± 69 k/ml, p = 0.008). Lymphopenia was also associated with findings of portal hypertension, including splenomegaly (36 versus 14%, p = 0.04), varices (22 versus 6%, p = 0.04), and ascites (39 versus 14%, p = 0.02). Lymphopenia did not correlate with any cardiac imaging, haemodynamic or exercise testing variables. In conclusion, lymphopenia is common in adult Fontan patients and is associated with markers of portal hypertension. Larger studies are needed to better define the relationship between lymphopenia and clinical outcomes.
Different manufacturers recommend different levels of disinfection for oxygen nipple and nut adaptors, also known as Christmas-tree adaptors (CTAs). We aimed to determine the bacterial contamination rates of CTAs before and after clinical use and whether disinfection wipes effectively eliminate bacteria from CTAs.
CTAs were swabbed for bacteria directly from the shipment box or after use in a medical intensive care unit to determine levels of contamination. CTAs were also inoculated in the laboratory with a variety of bacteria and disinfected with either 0.5% hydrogen peroxide (Oxivir 1) or 0.25% tetra-ammonium chloride with 44.50% isopropyl alcohol (Super Sani-Cloth), and the effectiveness of each wipe was determined by comparing the bacterial recovery before and after disinfection.
CTAs exhibit low levels of bacterial burden before and after clinical use. Both disinfecting wipes were effective at removing bacteria from the CTAs.
Low-level disinfection of CTAs is appropriate prior to redeployment in the clinical setting.
The Wisconsin Twin Project encompasses nearly 30 years of longitudinal research that spans infancy to early adulthood. The twin sample was recruited from statewide birth records for birth cohorts 1989–2004. We summarize early recruitment, assessment, retention and recently completed twin neuroimaging studies. In addition to the focal twins, longitudinal data were also collected from two parents and nontwin siblings. Our adolescent and young adult neuroimaging sample (N = 600) completed several previous behavioral and environmental assessments, beginning shortly after birth. The extensive phenotyping is meant to support a range of empirical investigations with potentially differing theoretical perspectives.
The Wisconsin Twin Project comprises multiple longitudinal studies that span infancy to early adulthood. We summarize recent papers that show how twin designs with deep phenotyping, including biological measures, can inform questions about phenotypic structure, etiology, comorbidity, heterogeneity, and gene–environment interplay of temperamental constructs and mental and physical health conditions of children and adolescents. The general framework for investigations begins with rich characterization of early temperament and follows with study of experiences and exposures across childhood and adolescence. Many studies incorporate neuroimaging and hormone assays.
We conducted signal detection analyses to test for curvilinear, U-shaped relations between early experiences of adversity and heightened physiological responses to challenge, as proposed by biological sensitivity to context theory. Based on analysis of an ethnically diverse sample of 338 kindergarten children (4–6 years old) and their families, we identified levels and types of adversity that, singly and interactively, predicted high (top 25%) and low (bottom 25%) rates of stress reactivity. The results offered support for the hypothesized U-shaped curve and conceptually replicated and extended the work of Ellis, Essex, and Boyce (2005). Across both sympathetic and adrenocortical systems, a disproportionate number of children growing up under conditions characterized by either low or high adversity (as indexed by restrictive parenting, family stress, and family economic condition) displayed heightened stress reactivity, compared with peers growing up under conditions of moderate adversity. Finally, as hypothesized by the adaptive calibration model, a disproportionate number of children who experienced exceptionally stressful family conditions displayed blunted cortisol reactivity to stress.
Classrooms are key social settings that impact children's mental health, though individual differences in physiological reactivity may render children more or less susceptible to classroom environments. In a diverse sample of children from 19 kindergarten classrooms (N = 338, 48% female, M age = 5.32 years), we examined whether children's parasympathetic reactivity moderated the association between classroom climate and externalizing symptoms. Independent observers coded teachers’ use of child-centered and teacher-directed instructional practices across classroom social and management domains. Children's respiratory sinus arrhythmia reactivity to challenge tasks was assessed in fall and a multi-informant measure of externalizing was collected in fall and spring. Both the social and the management domains of classroom climate significantly interacted with children's respiratory sinus arrhythmia reactivity to predict spring externalizing symptoms, controlling for fall symptoms. For more reactive children, as classrooms shifted toward greater proportional use of child-centered methods, externalizing symptoms declined, whereas greater use of teacher-dominated practices was associated with increased symptoms. Conversely, among less reactive children, exposure to more teacher-dominated classroom management practices was associated with lower externalizing. Consistent with the theory of biological sensitivity to context, considering variability in children's physiological reactivity aids understanding of the salience of the classroom environment for children's mental health.