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There are no estimates of the heritability of phenotypic udder traits in suckler sheep, which produce meat lambs, and whether these are associated with resilience to mastitis. Mastitis is a common disease which damages the mammary gland and reduces productivity. The aims of this study were to investigate the feasibility of collecting udder phenotypes, their heritability and their association with mastitis in suckler ewes. Udder and teat conformation, teat lesions, intramammary masses (IMM) and litter size were recorded from 10 Texel flocks in Great Britain between 2012 and 2014; 968 records were collected. Pedigree data were obtained from an online pedigree recording system. Univariate quantitative genetic parameters were estimated using animal and sire models. Linear mixed models were used to analyse continuous traits and generalised linear mixed models were used to analyse binary traits. Continuous traits had higher heritabilities than binary with teat placement and teat length heritability (h2) highest at 0.35 (SD 0.04) and 0.42 (SD 0.04), respectively. Udder width, drop and separation heritabilities were lower and varied with udder volume. The heritabilities of IMM and teat lesions (sire model) were 0.18 (SD 0.12) and 0.17 (SD 0.11), respectively. All heritabilities were sufficiently high to be in a selection programme to increase resilience to mastitis in the population of Texel sheep. Further studies are required to investigate genetic relationships between traits and to determine whether udder traits predict IMM, and the potential benefits from including traits in a selection programme to increase resilience to chronic mastitis.
Racial/ethnic minorities are more vulnerable to mental and physical health problems, but we know little about the psychobiological underpinnings of these disparities. In this study, we examined racial/ethnic differences in cortisol diurnal patterns and affect as initial steps toward elucidating long-term health disparities. A racially/ethnically diverse (39.5% White, 60.5% minority) sample of 370 adolescents (57.3% female) between the ages of 11.9 and 18 years (M = 14.65 years, SD = 1.39) participated in this study. These adolescents provided 16 cortisol samples (4 samples per day across 4 days), allowing the computation of diurnal cortisol slopes, the cortisol awakening response, and diurnal cortisol output (area under the curve), as well as daily diary ratings of high-arousal and low-arousal positive and negative affect. Consistent with prior research, we found that racial/ethnic minorities (particularly African American and Latino youth) exhibited flatter diurnal cortisol slopes compared to White youth, F (1, 344.7) = 5.26, p = .02, effect size g = 0.25. Furthermore, African American and Asian American youth reported lower levels of positive affect (both high arousal and low arousal) compared to White youth. Racial/ethnic differences in affect did not explain differences in cortisol patterns, suggesting a need to refine our models of relations between affect and hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenocortical activity. We conclude by proposing that a deeper understanding of cultural development may help elucidate the complex associations between affect and hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenocortical functioning and how they explain racial/ethnic differences in both affect and stress biology.
We investigated risk factors for severe acute lower respiratory infections (ALRI) among hospitalised children <2 years, with a focus on the interactions between virus and age. Statistical interactions between age and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza, adenovirus (ADV) and rhinovirus on the risk of ALRI outcomes were investigated. Of 1780 hospitalisations, 228 (12.8%) were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). The median (range) length of stay (LOS) in hospital was 3 (1–27) days. An increase of 1 month of age was associated with a decreased risk of ICU admission (rate ratio (RR) 0.94; 95% confidence intervals (CI) 0.91–0.98) and with a decrease in LOS (RR 0.96; 95% CI 0.95–0.97). Associations between RSV, influenza, ADV positivity and ICU admission and LOS were significantly modified by age. Children <5 months old were at the highest risk from RSV-associated severe outcomes, while children >8 months were at greater risk from influenza-associated ICU admissions and long hospital stay. Children with ADV had increased LOS across all ages. In the first 2 years of life, the effects of different viruses on ALRI severity varies with age. Our findings help to identify specific ages that would most benefit from virus-specific interventions such as vaccines and antivirals.
Hemispheric asymmetry is commonly viewed as a dual system, unique to humans, with the two sides of the human brain in complementary roles. To the contrary, modern research shows that cerebral and behavioral asymmetries are widespread in the animal kingdom, and that the concept of duality is an oversimplification. The brain has many networks serving different functions; these are differentially lateralized, and involve many genes. Unlike the asymmetries of the internal organs, brain asymmetry is variable, with a significant minority of the population showing reversed asymmetries or the absence of asymmetry. This variability may underlie the divisions of labor and the specializations that sustain social life. (JINS, 2017, 23, 710–718)
The past 50 years have been a period of exciting progress in neuropsychological research on traumatic brain injury (TBI). Neuropsychologists and neuropsychological testing have played a critical role in these advances. This study looks back at three major scientific advances in research on TBI that have been critical in pushing the field forward over the past several decades: The advent of modern neuroimaging; the recognition of the importance of non-injury factors in determining recovery from TBI; and the growth of cognitive rehabilitation. Thanks to these advances, we now have a better understanding of the pathophysiology of TBI and how recovery from the injury is also shaped by pre-injury, comorbid, and contextual factors, and we also have increasing evidence that active interventions, including cognitive rehabilitation, can help to promote better outcomes. The study also peers ahead to discern two important directions that seem destined to influence research on TBI over the next 50 years: the development of large, multi-site observational studies and randomized controlled trials, bolstered by international research consortia and the adoption of common data elements; and attempts to translate research into health care and health policy by the application of rigorous methods drawn from implementation science. Future research shaped by these trends should provide critical evidence regarding the outcomes of TBI and its treatment, and should help to disseminate and implement the knowledge gained from research to the betterment of the quality of life of persons with TBI. (JINS, 2017, 23, 806–817)
Whether monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins differ from each other in a variety of phenotypes is important for genetic twin modeling and for inferences made from twin studies in general. We analyzed whether there were differences in individual, maternal and paternal education between MZ and DZ twins in a large pooled dataset. Information was gathered on individual education for 218,362 adult twins from 27 twin cohorts (53% females; 39% MZ twins), and on maternal and paternal education for 147,315 and 143,056 twins respectively, from 28 twin cohorts (52% females; 38% MZ twins). Together, we had information on individual or parental education from 42 twin cohorts representing 19 countries. The original education classifications were transformed to education years and analyzed using linear regression models. Overall, MZ males had 0.26 (95% CI [0.21, 0.31]) years and MZ females 0.17 (95% CI [0.12, 0.21]) years longer education than DZ twins. The zygosity difference became smaller in more recent birth cohorts for both males and females. Parental education was somewhat longer for fathers of DZ twins in cohorts born in 1990–1999 (0.16 years, 95% CI [0.08, 0.25]) and 2000 or later (0.11 years, 95% CI [0.00, 0.22]), compared with fathers of MZ twins. The results show that the years of both individual and parental education are largely similar in MZ and DZ twins. We suggest that the socio-economic differences between MZ and DZ twins are so small that inferences based upon genetic modeling of twin data are not affected.
An ambition of depression biomarker research is to augment psychometric and cognitive assessment of clinically relevant phenomena with neural measures. Although such applications have been slow to arrive, we observe a steady evolution of the idea and anticipate emerging technologies with some optimism. To highlight critical themes and innovations in depression biomarker research, we take as our point of reference a specific research narrative. We begin with an early model of frontal-limbic dysfunction, which represents a conceptual shift from localized pathology to understanding symptoms as an emergent property of distributed networks. Over the decades, this model accommodates perspectives from neurology, psychiatry, clinical, and cognitive neuroscience, and preserves past insight as more complex methods become available. We also track the expanding mission of brain biomarker research: from the development of diagnostic tools to treatment selection algorithms, measures of neurocognitive functioning and novel targets for neuromodulation. To conclude, we draw from this particular research narrative future directions for biomarker research. We emphasize integration of measurement modalities to describe dynamic change in domain-general networks, and we speculate that a brain-based framework for psychiatric problems may dissolve classical diagnostic and disciplinary boundaries. (JINS, 2017, 23, 870–880)
The Solvency II Directive introduces the idea of a formal Actuarial Function to have responsibility over delivering the requirements of Article 48 of the Directive. Article 48 describes the responsibilities as being concerned with technical provisions, an opinion on reinsurance adequacy, an opinion on underwriting policy and contributing to the risk management system. Considerable documentation has been produced by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority on the subject, much of it very recent to the publication of this paper. The purpose of this paper is to provide the reader with some practical insights and suggestions around addressing the requirements of Article 48 of the Solvency II Directive in general insurance firms, taking into consideration the publications of the aforementioned regulatory authorities. It is not our intention to give advice, nor to be seen to give advice, but rather to make suggestions and observations that we hope the reader will find useful. The Regulations lay down the tasks of the Actuarial Function, so insurers should consider the need for formal terms of reference, backed up by proportionate governance procedures. The Regulations also require the production of an Actuarial Function Report to document the tasks undertaken by the Actuarial Function and its results. Such a report can be an aggregate report, made up of individual component reports completed at suitable points in the Actuarial Function’s work cycle, so long as it reports on all the required tasks. The technical provisions section should cover at least all the areas laid down in the Delegated Acts. The opinions required covering reinsurance adequacy and underwriting policy are not formal “sign offs”, but contributions to the effective running of the insurer by applying the skills and knowledge of actuaries to areas for which they are not normally responsible. Again, the Delegated Acts mandate the minimum contribution the Actuarial Function should make. The responsibility for delivering the work of the Actuarial Function does not have to be given to a member of the IFoA; however, the PRA is going to require (at least) one person to be designated the “Chief Actuary”, defined as the person responsible for delivering the requirements of Article 48 of the Directive. In response, the IFoA has stated its intention to require its members holding the role of Chief Actuary, as defined by the PRA, to hold a practicing certificate. Any Actuarial Function will need to consider issues of governance, independence and conflicts of interests. The PRA intends to require the Actuarial Function to be independent of an insurer’s revenue-generating functions. In addition, normal good governance requires a degree of separation between those who perform Actuarial Function work and those who review and supervise it. There are numerous stakeholders in the Actuarial Function’s work. Some of these will rely on the output of the Actuarial Function, others will provide inputs to its work. Setting out stakeholder responsibilities clearly and in advance will be of vital importance. Good communication and coordination between these groups will be important to the efficient running of the insurer. Bringing together issues of governance, independence and meeting the Directive and regulators’ requirements will require a suitable organisational structure which will also need to consider practical issues, such as the availability of suitable staff. Many such arrangements may be possible, but all will require trading off advantages and disadvantages. The Actuarial Function is primarily about good practice and getting the most out of the actuarial skills available. For many insurers, meeting the requirements should not be unduly burdensome.
Data were pooled from three Australian sentinel general practice influenza surveillance networks to estimate Australia-wide influenza vaccine coverage and effectiveness against community presentations for laboratory-confirmed influenza for the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons. Patients presenting with influenza-like illness at participating GP practices were swabbed and tested for influenza. The vaccination odds of patients testing positive were compared with patients testing negative to estimate influenza vaccine effectiveness (VE) by logistic regression, adjusting for age group, week of presentation and network. Pooling of data across Australia increased the sample size for estimation from a minimum of 684 to 3,683 in 2012, from 314 to 2,042 in 2013 and from 497 to 3,074 in 2014. Overall VE was 38% [95% confidence interval (CI) 24–49] in 2012, 60% (95% CI 45–70) in 2013 and 44% (95% CI 31–55) in 2014. For A(H1N1)pdm09 VE was 54% (95% CI–28 to 83) in 2012, 59% (95% CI 33–74) in 2013 and 55% (95% CI 39–67) in 2014. For A(H3N2), VE was 30% (95% CI 14–44) in 2012, 67% (95% CI 39–82) in 2013 and 26% (95% CI 1–45) in 2014. For influenza B, VE was stable across years at 56% (95% CI 37–70) in 2012, 57% (95% CI 30–73) in 2013 and 54% (95% CI 21–73) in 2014. Overall VE against influenza was low in 2012 and 2014 when A(H3N2) was the dominant strain and the vaccine was poorly matched. In contrast, overall VE was higher in 2013 when A(H1N1)pdm09 dominated and the vaccine was a better match. Pooling data can increase the sample available and enable more precise subtype- and age group-specific estimates, but limitations remain.
We analyzed birth order differences in means and variances of height and body mass index (BMI) in monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins from infancy to old age. The data were derived from the international CODATwins database. The total number of height and BMI measures from 0.5 to 79.5 years of age was 397,466. As expected, first-born twins had greater birth weight than second-born twins. With respect to height, first-born twins were slightly taller than second-born twins in childhood. After adjusting the results for birth weight, the birth order differences decreased and were no longer statistically significant. First-born twins had greater BMI than the second-born twins over childhood and adolescence. After adjusting the results for birth weight, birth order was still associated with BMI until 12 years of age. No interaction effect between birth order and zygosity was found. Only limited evidence was found that birth order influenced variances of height or BMI. The results were similar among boys and girls and also in MZ and DZ twins. Overall, the differences in height and BMI between first- and second-born twins were modest even in early childhood, while adjustment for birth weight reduced the birth order differences but did not remove them for BMI.
In October 2008, Medicare ceased additional payment for hospital-acquired conditions not present on admission. We evaluated the policy’s differential impact in hospitals with high vs low operating margins. Medicare’s payment policy may have had an impact on reducing central line–associated bloodstream infections in hospitals with low operating margins.
Infect. Control Hosp. Epidemiol. 2015;37(1):100–103
This work considers debris disks whose spectra can be modelled by dust emission at two different temperatures. These disks are typically assumed to be a sign of multiple belts, but only a few cases have been confirmed via high resolution observations. We derive the properties of a sample of two-temperature disks, and explore whether this emission can arise from dust in a single narrow belt. While some two-temperature disks arise from single belts, it is probable that most have multiple spatial components. These disks are plausibly similar to the outer Solar System's configuration of Asteroid and Edgeworth-Kuiper belts separated by giant planets. Alternatively, the inner component could arise from inward scattering of material from the outer belt, again due to intervening planets. For either scenario, the ratio of warm/cool component temperatures is indicative of the scale of outer planetary systems, which typically span a factor of about ten in radius.
A trend toward greater body size in dizygotic (DZ) than in monozygotic (MZ) twins has been suggested by some but not all studies, and this difference may also vary by age. We analyzed zygosity differences in mean values and variances of height and body mass index (BMI) among male and female twins from infancy to old age. Data were derived from an international database of 54 twin cohorts participating in the COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins), and included 842,951 height and BMI measurements from twins aged 1 to 102 years. The results showed that DZ twins were consistently taller than MZ twins, with differences of up to 2.0 cm in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.9 cm in adulthood. Similarly, a greater mean BMI of up to 0.3 kg/m2 in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.2 kg/m2 in adulthood was observed in DZ twins, although the pattern was less consistent. DZ twins presented up to 1.7% greater height and 1.9% greater BMI than MZ twins; these percentage differences were largest in middle and late childhood and decreased with age in both sexes. The variance of height was similar in MZ and DZ twins at most ages. In contrast, the variance of BMI was significantly higher in DZ than in MZ twins, particularly in childhood. In conclusion, DZ twins were generally taller and had greater BMI than MZ twins, but the differences decreased with age in both sexes.
On 30 May 2012, Surrey and Sussex Health Protection Unit was called by five nurseries reporting children and staff with sudden onset vomiting approximately an hour after finishing their lunch that day. Over the following 24 h 50 further nurseries supplied by the same company reported cases of vomiting (182 children, 18 staff affected). Epidemiological investigations were undertaken in order to identify the cause of the outbreak and prevent further cases. Investigations demonstrated a nursery-level attack rate of 55 out of 87 nurseries (63·2%, 95% confidence interval 52·2–73·3). Microbiological tests confirmed the presence of Bacillus cereus in food and environmental samples from the catering company and one nursery. This was considered microbiologically and epidemiologically consistent with toxin from this bacterium causing the outbreak. Laboratory investigations showed that the conditions used by the caterer for soaking of pearl haricot beans (known as navy bean in the USA) used in one of the foods supplied to the nurseries prior to cooking, was likely to have provided sufficient growth and toxin production of B. cereus to cause illness. This large outbreak demonstrates the need for careful temperature control in food preparation.
For over 100 years, the genetics of human anthropometric traits has attracted scientific interest. In particular, height and body mass index (BMI, calculated as kg/m2) have been under intensive genetic research. However, it is still largely unknown whether and how heritability estimates vary between human populations. Opportunities to address this question have increased recently because of the establishment of many new twin cohorts and the increasing accumulation of data in established twin cohorts. We started a new research project to analyze systematically (1) the variation of heritability estimates of height, BMI and their trajectories over the life course between birth cohorts, ethnicities and countries, and (2) to study the effects of birth-related factors, education and smoking on these anthropometric traits and whether these effects vary between twin cohorts. We identified 67 twin projects, including both monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins, using various sources. We asked for individual level data on height and weight including repeated measurements, birth related traits, background variables, education and smoking. By the end of 2014, 48 projects participated. Together, we have 893,458 height and weight measures (52% females) from 434,723 twin individuals, including 201,192 complete twin pairs (40% monozygotic, 40% same-sex dizygotic and 20% opposite-sex dizygotic) representing 22 countries. This project demonstrates that large-scale international twin studies are feasible and can promote the use of existing data for novel research purposes.
Policymakers may wish to align healthcare payment and quality of care while minimizing unintended consequences, particularly for safety net hospitals.
To determine whether the 2008 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Hospital-Acquired Conditions policy had a differential impact on targeted healthcare-associated infection rates in safety net compared with non–safety net hospitals.
Interrupted time-series design.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS
Nonfederal acute care hospitals that reported central line–associated bloodstream infection and ventilator-associated pneumonia rates to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Safety Network from July 1, 2007, through December 31, 2013.
We did not observe changes in the slope of targeted infection rates in the postpolicy period compared with the prepolicy period for either safety net (postpolicy vs prepolicy ratio, 0.96 [95% CI, 0.84–1.09]) or non–safety net (0.99 [0.90–1.10]) hospitals. Controlling for prepolicy secular trends, we did not detect differences in an immediate change at the time of the policy between safety net and non–safety net hospitals (P for 2-way interaction, .87).
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Hospital-Acquired Conditions policy did not have an impact, either positive or negative, on already declining rates of central line–associated bloodstream infection in safety net or non–safety net hospitals. Continued evaluations of the broad impact of payment policies on safety net hospitals will remain important as the use of financial incentives and penalties continues to expand in the United States.
3D printing is a versatile fabrication method that offers the potential to realize complex 3D devices with metamaterial characteristics in a single process directly from a computer aided design. However, the range of functional devices that might be realized by 3D printing is limited by the current range of materials that are compatible with a given 3D printing process: fused deposition modelling (FDM), which is a widely used 3D printing method, typically employs only common thermoplastics. Here we describe the development of a magnetic feedstock based on polymer-ferrite composite that is compatible with FDM. The feasibility of the technique is demonstrated by the permittivity and permeability measurement of direct printed blocks and the fabrication of a complex 3D diamond-like lattice structure. The development of printable magnetic composites provides increased design freedom for direct realization of devices with graded electromagnetic properties operating at microwave frequencies.