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The COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins) project is a large international collaborative effort to analyze individual-level phenotype data from twins in multiple cohorts from different environments. The main objective is to study factors that modify genetic and environmental variation of height, body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) and size at birth, and additionally to address other research questions such as long-term consequences of birth size. The project started in 2013 and is open to all twin projects in the world having height and weight measures on twins with information on zygosity. Thus far, 54 twin projects from 24 countries have provided individual-level data. The CODATwins database includes 489,981 twin individuals (228,635 complete twin pairs). Since many twin cohorts have collected longitudinal data, there is a total of 1,049,785 height and weight observations. For many cohorts, we also have information on birth weight and length, own smoking behavior and own or parental education. We found that the heritability estimates of height and BMI systematically changed from infancy to old age. Remarkably, only minor differences in the heritability estimates were found across cultural–geographic regions, measurement time and birth cohort for height and BMI. In addition to genetic epidemiological studies, we looked at associations of height and BMI with education, birth weight and smoking status. Within-family analyses examined differences within same-sex and opposite-sex dizygotic twins in birth size and later development. The CODATwins project demonstrates the feasibility and value of international collaboration to address gene-by-exposure interactions that require large sample sizes and address the effects of different exposures across time, geographical regions and socioeconomic status.
We present a broad study of linear, clustered, noble gas puffs irradiated with the frequency doubled (527 nm) Titan laser at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Pure Ar, Kr, and Xe clustered gas puffs, as well as two mixed-gas puffs consisting of KrAr and XeKrAr gases, make up the targets. Characterization experiments to determine gas-puff density show that varying the experimental parameter gas-delay timing (the delay between gas puff initialization and laser-gas-puff interaction) provides a simple control over the gas-puff density. X-ray emission (>1.4 keV) is studied as a function of gas composition, density, and delay timing. Xe gas puffs produce the strongest peak radiation in the several keV spectral region. The emitted radiation was found to be anisotropic, with smaller X-ray flux observed in the direction perpendicular to both laser beam propagation and polarization directions. The degree of anisotropy is independent of gas target type but increases with photon energy. X-ray spectroscopic measurements estimate plasma parameters and highlight their difference with previous studies. Electron beams with energy in excess of 72 keV are present in the noble gas-puff plasmas and results indicate that Ar plays a key role in their production. A drastic increase in harder X-ray emissions (X-ray flash effect) and multi-MeV electron-beam generation from Xe gas-puff plasma occurred when the laser beam was focused on the front edge of the linear gas puff.
Sexually reproducing pathogens such as Cyclospora cayetanensis often produce genetically heterogeneous infections where the number of unique sequence types detected at any given locus varies depending on which locus is sequenced. The genotypes assigned to these infections quickly become complex when additional loci are analysed. This genetic heterogeneity confounds the utility of traditional sequence-typing and phylogenetic approaches for aiding epidemiological trace-back, and requires new methods to address this complexity. Here, we describe an ensemble of two similarity-based classification algorithms, including a Bayesian and heuristic component that infer the relatedness of C. cayetanensis infections. The ensemble requires a set of haplotypes as input and assigns arbitrary distances to specimen pairs reflecting their most likely relationships. The approach was applied to data generated from a test cohort of 88 human fecal specimens containing C. cayetanensis, including 30 from patients whose infections were associated with epidemiologically defined outbreak clusters of cyclosporiasis. The ensemble assigned specimens to plausible clusters of genetically related infections despite their complex haplotype composition. These relationships were corroborated by a significant number of epidemiological linkages (P < 0.0001) suggesting the ensemble's utility for aiding epidemiological trace-back investigations of cyclosporiasis.
Cast iron objects recovered primarily in eastern Mongolia, spanning the Xiongnu through the Early Historic periods (ca. 3rd BC–AD 17th century), were examined for their radiocarbon (14C) concentration and microstructure. Most of the samples examined were found to have originated from charcoal-based smelting with a few exceptions that were made using a mineral coal-based technique. A comparison of 14C dates with dates derived from artifact typology allowed the charcoal-smelted objects to be classified into two groups, based on whether the radiometric and typological periodization are in agreement or not. In addition, those with differing 14C and typological dates can be divided into two subgroups with and without evidence for a melt treatment applied after original casting. These conflicting dating results are confusing and would seem to provoke skepticism about the use of 14C measurements for dating iron artifacts. We demonstrate however that 14C analysis, when combined with metallographic examination and other lines of chronological evidence, can clarify the history of a given iron object and its multiple users, often separated in time by more than a millennium.
During the summer of 2016, the Hawaii Department of Health responded to the second-largest domestic foodborne hepatitis A virus (HAV) outbreak in the post-vaccine era. The epidemiological investigation included case finding and investigation, sequencing of RNA positive clinical specimens, product trace-back and virologic testing and sequencing of HAV RNA from the product. Additionally, an online survey open to all Hawaii residents was conducted to estimate baseline commercial food consumption. We identified 292 confirmed HAV cases, of whom 11 (4%) were possible secondary cases. Seventy-four (25%) were hospitalised and there were two deaths. Among all cases, 94% reported eating at Oahu or Kauai Island branches of Restaurant Chain A, with 86% of those cases reporting raw scallop consumption. In contrast, a food consumption survey conducted during the outbreak indicated 25% of Oahu residents patronised Restaurant Chain A in the 7 weeks before the survey. Product trace-back revealed a single distributor that supplied scallops imported from the Philippines to Restaurant Chain A. Recovery, amplification and sequence comparison of HAV recovered from scallops revealed viral sequences matching those from case-patients. Removal of product from implicated restaurants and vaccination of those potentially exposed led to the cessation of the outbreak. This outbreak further highlights the need for improved imported food safety.
Human bocaviruses (HBoVs) have been detected in human gastrointestinal infections worldwide. In 2005, HBoV was also discovered in infants and children with infections of the lower respiratory tract. Recently, several genotypes of this parvovirus, including HBoV genotype 2 (HBoV2), genotype 3 (HBoV3) and genotype 4 (HBoV4), were discovered and found to be closely related to HBoV. HBoV2 was first detected in stool samples from children in Pakistan, followed by detection in other countries. HBoV3 was detected in Australia and HBoV4 was identified in stool samples from Nigeria, Tunisia and the USA. Recently, HBoV infection has been on the rise throughout the world, particularly in countries neighbouring South Korea; however, there have been very few studies on Korean strains. In this study, we characterised the whole genome and determined the phylogenetic position of CUK-BC20, a new clinical HBoV strain isolated in South Korea. The CUK-BC20 genome of 5184 nucleotides (nt) contains three open-reading frames (ORFs). The genotype of CUK-BC20 is HBoV2, and 98.77% of its nt sequence is identical with those of other HBoVs, namely Rus-Nsc10-N386. Especially, the ORF3 amino acid sequences from positions 212–213 and 454 corresponding to a variable region (VR)1 and VR5, respectively, showed genotype-specific substitutions that distinguished the four HBoV genotypes. As the first whole-genome sequence analysis of HBoV in South Korea, this information will provide a valuable reference for the detection of recombination, tracking of epidemics and development of diagnosis methods for HBoV.
The accurate analysis of forage is paramount if the nutritive value to the ruminant animal is to be estimated. NIRS has the potential to accurately and rapidly evaluate the chemical and biological parameters of fresh silage. In many laboratory situations the pressure of proximate and specialized chemical analyses means that routinely, fresh forages have to be stored frozen (–20°C) before analysis. Research by MacRae et al., (1975) has shown that although the physico-chemical composition of high quality forages changed upon freezing and subsequent thawing there were no differences in the apparent digestibilities and total nitrogen remained relatively constant. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of freezing and thawing fresh silage on NIRS predictions.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can cause serious respiratory infections, second only to influenza virus. In order to know RSV's genetic changes we examined 4028 respiratory specimens from local hospital outpatients in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea over six consecutive years by real-time one-step RT–PCR; 183 patients were positive for RSV infection. To investigate the specific distribution of RSV genotypes, we performed partial sequencing of the glycoprotein gene. Of the 131 RSV-A specimens sequenced, 61 (43·3%) belonged to the ON1 genotype, 66 (46·8%) were NA1 genotype, 3 (2·1%) were GA5 genotype, and 1 (0·7%) belonged to the GA1 genotype. Of the 31 RSV-B specimens sequenced, 29 were BA9 genotype (87·9%) and 2 were BA10 genotype (6·1%). The most common clinical symptoms were fever, cough, nasal discharge, and phlegm; multiple logistic regression analysis showed that RSV-positive infection on pediatric patients was strongly associated with cough (OR = 2·8, 95% CI 1·6–5·1) and wheezing (OR = 2·8, 95% CI 1·7–4·4). The ON1 genotype was significantly associated with phlegm (OR = 11·8, 95% CI 3·8–46·7), while the NA1 genotype was associated with the pediatric patients’ gender (males, OR = 2·4, 95% CI 1·1–5·4) and presence of chills (OR = 5·1, 95% CI 1·1–27·2). RSV subgroup B was showed association with nasal obstruction (OR = 4·6, 95% CI 1·2–20·0). The majority of respiratory virus coinfections with RSV were human rhinovirus (47·2%). This study contributes to our understanding of the molecular epidemiological characteristics of RSV, which promotes the potential for improving RSV vaccines.
In-spiraling supermassive black holes should emit gravitational waves, which would produce characteristic distortions in the time of arrival residuals from millisecond pulsars. Multiple national and regional consortia have constructed pulsar timing arrays by precise timing of different sets of millisecond pulsars. An essential aspect of precision timing is the transfer of the times of arrival to a (quasi-)inertial frame, conventionally the solar system barycenter. The barycenter is determined from the knowledge of the planetary masses and orbits, which has been refined over the past 50 years by multiple spacecraft. Within the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav), uncertainties on the solar system barycenter are emerging as an important element of the NANOGrav noise budget. We describe what is known about the solar system barycenter, touch upon how uncertainties in it affect gravitational wave studies with pulsar timing arrays, and consider future trends in spacecraft navigation.
This study aimed to identify the effect of lateral neck dissection on voice change in thyroidectomised patients.
Medical records from 264 patients who underwent thyroidectomy with (n = 65) or without (n = 199) lateral neck dissection were reviewed. Clinical and voice evaluation data were compared between the two groups.
Patients who underwent surgery that included lateral neck dissection had lower fundamental frequencies and speaking fundamental frequencies. They also had a higher incidence of asymmetric mucosal wave and vocal fold oedema on videostroboscopy during the first month after surgery, with the incidence of vocal fold oedema remaining significantly higher at three months. Self-assessed voice quality scores were significantly higher in lateral neck dissection patients at both one and three months after surgery.
In thyroidectomised patients, lateral neck dissection lowers the vocal pitch in the initial period after surgery and induces vocal fold oedema that persists for several months. Although most objective parameters improved within a month, subjective symptoms lasted for longer.
Noroviruses (NoVs) are major causal agents of acute gastroenteritis in humans. NoV GII.4 is the predominant genotype globally. However, uncommon and minor types of NoVs are consistently detected and some have been shown to dominate over GII.4. Therefore, the prevalence of dominant and uncommon NoVs makes the identification of these viruses important for the prediction and prevention of pandemics. In this study, the full-genome sequence of a NoV (strain JW) detected in Korea was extensively characterized. The full-length genome was 7510 nucleotides long, and phylogenetic analysis based on the whole-genome sequences, including open reading frame (ORF)1, ORF2, and ORF3, indicated that it belonged to the GII.21 genotype. Strain JW showed maximum identity with strain YO284; however, comparison of the amino acid sequence of ORF2, which functions as an antigen, showed substitutions in several amino acids. GII.21 is not a prevalent epidemiological agent of acute gastroenteritis in humans, but it is consistently found in gastroenteritis patients from several countries. The present study provides the first full-genome sequence analysis of NoV GII.21 isolated from a patient in Korea. Our findings provide not only valuable genome information but also data for epidemiology studies, epidemic prevention, and vaccine development strategies.
Introduction: Patients from all population groups visit the emergency department (ED), with increasing visits by elderly patients. Patient falls in the ED are a significant safety concern, and they can lead to serious injuries and worse outcomes. Toronto Western Hospital’s ED Quality Improvement (QI) team identified as a problem our assessment and management of patients at risk for falls. The aim of this project was to develop a comprehensive and standardized approach to patients at risk of falls in the ED, including implementing timely interventions for fall prevention. Methods: A literature review of existing tools was completed to develop our own reliable and valid fall risk screening tool for ED patients. QI methods were used to devise a comprehensive strategy starting with detection at triage and implementation of action-driven steps at the bedside, through multiple PDSA cycles, randomized audits, surveys, and education. Repeated measurements were undergone throughout the project, as were staff satisfaction surveys. Results: The chart audits showed a five-fold increase in the completion rate of the fall risk screening tool in the ED by the end of the QI initiative (from 10% to 50%). Constructive feedback by an engaged team of nurses was used to iteratively improve the tool, and there was mostly positive feedback on it after various PDSA cycles were completed. The various component of this novel and useful ED-based falls screening tool and bundle will be presented in tables and figures for other leaders to replicate in their EDs. Conclusion: We developed a completely new ED-specific fall risk screening tool through literature review, front-line provider feedback, and iterative PDSA cycles. It was used for the identification, prevention, and management of ED patients with fall risk. We also contributed to a positive change in the culture of a busy ED environment towards the promotion of patient safety. Education and feedback continue to be provided to the ED nurses for reflective practice, and we hope to continue to improve our tool and to share it with other EDs.
Young children are particularly vulnerable to malnutrition as nutrition transition progresses. The present study aimed to document the prevalence, coexistence and correlates of nutritional status (stunting, overweight/obesity and anaemia) in Samoan children aged 24–59 months.
A cross-sectional community-based survey. Height and weight were used to determine prevalence of stunting (height-for-age Z-score <−2) and overweight/obesity (BMI-for-age Z-score >+2) based on WHO growth standards. Anaemia was determined using an AimStrip Hemoglobin test system (Hb <110 g/l).
Ten villages on the Samoan island of Upolu.
Mother–child pairs (n 305) recruited using convenience sampling.
Moderate or severe stunting was apparent in 20·3 % of children, 16·1 % were overweight/obese and 34·1 % were anaemic. Among the overweight/obese children, 28·6 % were also stunted and 42·9 % anaemic, indicating dual burden of malnutrition. Stunting was significantly less likely among girls (OR=0·41; 95 % CI 0·21, 0·79, P<0·01) than boys. Overweight/obesity was associated with higher family socio-economic status and decreased sugar intake (OR per 10 g/d=0·89, 95 % CI 0·80, 0·99, P=0·032). The odds of anaemia decreased with age and anaemia was more likely in children with an anaemic mother (OR=2·20; 95 % CI 1·22, 3·98, P=0·007). No child, maternal or household characteristic was associated with more than one of the nutritional status outcomes, highlighting the need for condition-specific interventions in this age group.
The observed prevalences of stunting, overweight/obesity and anaemia suggest that it is critical to invest in nutrition and develop health programmes targeting early childhood growth and development in Samoa.
This study aimed to examine the association between vitamin B6, folate and vitamin B12 biomarkers and plasma fatty acids in European adolescents. A subsample from the Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence study with valid data on B-vitamins and fatty acid blood parameters, and all the other covariates used in the analyses such as BMI, Diet Quality Index, education of the mother and physical activity assessed by a questionnaire, was selected resulting in 674 cases (43 % males). B-vitamin biomarkers were measured by chromatography and immunoassay and fatty acids by enzymatic analyses. Linear mixed models elucidated the association between B-vitamins and fatty acid blood parameters (changes in fatty acid profiles according to change in 10 units of vitamin B biomarkers). DHA, EPA) and n-3 fatty acids showed positive associations with B-vitamin biomarkers, mainly with those corresponding to folate and vitamin B12. Contrarily, negative associations were found with n-6:n-3 ratio, trans-fatty acids and oleic:stearic ratio. With total homocysteine (tHcy), all the associations found with these parameters were opposite (for instance, an increase of 10 nmol/l in red blood cell folate or holotranscobalamin in females produces an increase of 15·85 µmol/l of EPA (P value <0·01), whereas an increase of 10 nmol/l of tHcy in males produces a decrease of 2·06 µmol/l of DHA (P value <0·05). Positive associations between B-vitamins and specific fatty acids might suggest underlying mechanisms between B-vitamins and CVD and it is worth the attention of public health policies.