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The search for life in the Universe is a fundamental problem of astrobiology and modern science. The current progress in the detection of terrestrial-type exoplanets has opened a new avenue in the characterization of exoplanetary atmospheres and in the search for biosignatures of life with the upcoming ground-based and space missions. To specify the conditions favourable for the origin, development and sustainment of life as we know it in other worlds, we need to understand the nature of global (astrospheric), and local (atmospheric and surface) environments of exoplanets in the habitable zones (HZs) around G-K-M dwarf stars including our young Sun. Global environment is formed by propagated disturbances from the planet-hosting stars in the form of stellar flares, coronal mass ejections, energetic particles and winds collectively known as astrospheric space weather. Its characterization will help in understanding how an exoplanetary ecosystem interacts with its host star, as well as in the specification of the physical, chemical and biochemical conditions that can create favourable and/or detrimental conditions for planetary climate and habitability along with evolution of planetary internal dynamics over geological timescales. A key linkage of (astro)physical, chemical and geological processes can only be understood in the framework of interdisciplinary studies with the incorporation of progress in heliophysics, astrophysics, planetary and Earth sciences. The assessment of the impacts of host stars on the climate and habitability of terrestrial (exo)planets will significantly expand the current definition of the HZ to the biogenic zone and provide new observational strategies for searching for signatures of life. The major goal of this paper is to describe and discuss the current status and recent progress in this interdisciplinary field in light of presentations and discussions during the NASA Nexus for Exoplanetary System Science funded workshop ‘Exoplanetary Space Weather, Climate and Habitability’ and to provide a new roadmap for the future development of the emerging field of exoplanetary science and astrobiology.
In this paper we report high voltage MOS and Schottky Diode CV techniques for silicon and SiC power devices. 4H Silicon carbide is a wide bandgap semiconductor suitable for high voltage power electronics and RF applications due to high avalanche breakdown critical electric field, and thermal conductivity. The performance of various power devices, which may include MOSFET and Static Induction Transistor (SIT), can be affected by the deep level traps in the substrate and the oxide interfacial defects. We have characterized deep level trap (High Voltage Schottky Diode HF CV) and oxide interface trap densities (High Voltage HF MOS CV), measured the device channel doping profile for both 4H SiC and silicon, gate metal workfunction, and simulated the effects on DC/AC performance.
Although childhood adversity is a potent determinant of psychopathology, relatively little is known about how the characteristics of adversity exposure, including its developmental timing or duration, influence subsequent mental health outcomes. This study compared three models from life course theory (recency, accumulation, sensitive period) to determine which one(s) best explained this relationship.
Prospective data came from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (n = 7476). Four adversities commonly linked to psychopathology (caregiver physical/emotional abuse; sexual/physical abuse; financial stress; parent legal problems) were measured repeatedly from birth to age 8. Using a statistical modeling approach grounded in least angle regression, we determined the theoretical model(s) explaining the most variability (r2) in psychopathology symptoms measured at age 8 using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and evaluated the magnitude of each association.
Recency was the best fitting theoretical model for the effect of physical/sexual abuse (girls r2 = 2.35%; boys r2 = 1.68%). Both recency (girls r2 = 1.55%) and accumulation (boys r2 = 1.71%) were the best fitting models for caregiver physical/emotional abuse. Sensitive period models were chosen alone (parent legal problems in boys r2 = 0.29%) and with accumulation (financial stress in girls r2 = 3.08%) more rarely. Substantial effect sizes were observed (standardized mean differences = 0.22–1.18).
Child psychopathology symptoms are primarily explained by recency and accumulation models. Evidence for sensitive periods did not emerge strongly in these data. These findings underscore the need to measure the characteristics of adversity, which can aid in understanding disease mechanisms and determining how best to reduce the consequences of exposure to adversity.
There is considerable uncertainty as to the effectiveness of Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG) screening in men who have sex with men. It is important to ensure that screening has benefits that outweigh the risks of increased antibiotics resistance. We develop a mathematical model to estimate the effectiveness of screening on prevalence. Separable Temporal Exponential family Random Graph Models are used to model the sexual relationships network, both with main and casual partners. Next, the transmission of Gonorrhoea is simulated on this network. The models are implemented using the R package ‘statnet’, which we adapted among other things to incorporate infection status at the pharynx, urethra and rectum separately and to distinguish between anal sex, oral sex and rimming. The different screening programmes compared are no screening, 3.5% of the population screened, 32% screened and 50% screened. The model simulates day-by-day evolution for 10 years of a population of 10 000. If half of the population would be screened, the prevalence in the pharynx decreases from 11.9% to 10.2%. We conclude that the limited impact of screening on NG prevalence may not outweigh the increased risk of antibiotic resistance.
There is growing interest in linking vitamin D deficiency with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). The association between vitamin D deficiency during gestation, a critical period in neurodevelopment, and ASD is not well understood.
To determine the association between gestational vitamin D status and ASD.
Based on a birth cohort (n=4334), we examined the association between 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD), assessed from both maternal mid-gestation sera and neonatal sera, and ASD (defined by clinical records; n=68 cases).
Individuals in the 25OHD-deficient group at mid-gestation had more than twofold increased risk of ASD (odds ratio (OR)=2.42, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.09 to 5.07, P=0.03) compared with the sufficient group. The findings persisted in analyses including children of European ethnicity only.
Mid-gestational vitamin D deficiency was associated with an increased risk of ASD. Because gestational vitamin D deficiency is readily preventable with safe, inexpensive and readily available supplementation, this risk factor warrants closer scrutiny.
This study examined whether the association between age and amygdala–medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) connectivity in typically developing 6- to 10-year-old children is correlated with parental care. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging scans were acquired from 124 children of the Generation R Study who at 4 years old had been observed interacting with their parents to assess maternal and paternal sensitivity. Amygdala functional connectivity was assessed using a general linear model with the amygdalae time series as explanatory variables. Higher level analyses assessing Sensitivity × Age as well as exploratory Sensitivity × Age × Gender interaction effects were performed restricted to voxels in the mPFC. We found significant Sensitivity × Age interaction effects on amygdala–mPFC connectivity. Age was related to stronger amygdala–mPFC connectivity in children with a lower combined parental sensitivity score (b = 0.11, p = .004, b = 0.06, p = .06, right and left amygdala, respectively), but not in children with a higher parental sensitivity score, (b = –0.07, p = .12, b = –0.06, p = .12, right and left amygdala, respectively). A similar effect was found for maternal sensitivity, with stronger amygdala–mPFC connectivity in children with less sensitive mothers. Exploratory (parental, maternal, paternal) Sensitivity × Age × Gender interaction analyses suggested that this effect was especially pronounced in girls. Amygdala-mPFC resting-state functional connectivity has been shown to increase from age 10.5 years onward, implying that the positive association between age and amygdala–mPFC connectivity in 6- to 10-year-old children of less sensitive parents represents accelerated development of the amygdala–mPFC circuit.
We use the TGAS proper motions and parallaxes as well as published and new radial velocities to study the dynamics of nearby moving groups. In particular we try to determine their age using backtracing of the individual members to a common origin. We find that the current data, probably the radial velocities, do not allow to reach a successful conclusion.
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.
Previous studies have suggested that prenatal maternal folate deficiency is associated with reduced prenatal brain growth and psychological problems in offspring. However, little is known about the longer-term impact. The aims of this study were to investigate whether prenatal maternal folate insufficiency, high total homocysteine levels and low vitamin B12 levels are associated with altered brain morphology, cognitive and/or psychological problems in school-aged children. This study was embedded in Generation R, a prospective population-based cohort study. The study sample consisted of 256 Dutch children aged between 6 and 8 years from whom structural brain scans were collected using MRI. The mothers of sixty-two children had insufficient (<8 nmol/l) plasma folate concentrations in early pregnancy. Cognitive development was assessed by the Snijders-Oomen Niet-verbale intelligentietest – Revisie and the NEPSY-II-NL. Psychological problems were assessed at age 6 years using the parent report of the Child Behavior Checklist. Low prenatal folate levels were associated with a smaller total brain volume (B –33·34; 95 % CI –66·7, 0·02; P=050) and predicted poorer performance on the language (B –0·28; 95 % CI –0·52, –0·04; P=0·020) and visuo-spatial domains (B –0·27; 95 % CI –0·50, –0·04; P=0·021). High homocysteine levels (>9·1 µmol/l) predicted poorer performance on the language (B –0·31; 95 % CI –0·56, –0·06; P=0·014) and visuo-spatial domains (B –0·36; 95 % CI –0·60, –0·11; P=0·004). No associations with psychological problems were found. Our findings suggest that folate insufficiency in early pregnancy has a long-lasting, global effect on brain development and is, together with homocysteine levels, associated with poorer cognitive performance.
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.
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.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are considered safe and are frequently used during pregnancy. However, two case–control studies suggested an association between prenatal SSRI exposure with childhood autism.
To prospectively determine whether intra-uterine SSSRI exposure is associated with childhood autistic symptoms in a population-based study.
A total of 376 children prenatally exposed to maternal depressive symptoms (no SSRI exposure), 69 children prenatally exposed to SSRIs and 5531 unexposed children were included. Child pervasive developmental and affective problems were assessed by parental report with the Child Behavior Checklist at ages 1.5, 3 and 6. At age 6, we assessed autistic traits using the Social Responsiveness Scale (n = 4264).
Prenatal exposure to maternal depressive symptoms without SSRIs was related to both pervasive developmental (odds ratio (OR) = 1.44, 95% CI 1.07–1.93) and affective problems (OR = 1.44, 95% CI 1.15–1.81). Compared with unexposed children, those prenatally exposed to SSRIs also were at higher risk for developing pervasive developmental problems (OR = 1.91, 95% CI 1.13–3.47), but not for affective problems. Children prenatally exposed to SSRIs also had more autistic traits (B = 0.15, 95% CI 0.08–0.22) compared with those exposed to depressive symptoms only.
Our results suggest an association between prenatal SSRI exposure and autistic traits in children. Prenatal depressive symptoms without SSRI use were also associated with autistic traits, albeit this was weaker and less specific. Long-term drug safety trials are needed before evidence-based recommendations are possible.
A vast body of literature shows that maternal depression has long-term adverse consequences for children. However, only very few studies have documented the effect of maternal depression on children's ability to process emotional expressions and even fewer incorporated measures of observed maternal sensitivity to further tease apart whether it is the symptoms per se or the associated impact via maternal sensitivity that affects children's developing emotion-processing abilities. In a large community sample of Dutch preschoolers (N = 770), we examined independent and mediated effects of maternal depressive symptoms and sensitivity on children's ability to recognize emotional expressions using a nonverbal and a verbal task paradigm. Maternal depressive symptoms predicted less accurate emotion labeling in children, while maternal sensitivity was associated with more accurate emotion matching, especially for sadness and anger. Maternal sensitivity did not mediate the observed associations between mothers’ depressive symptoms and children's emotion recognition, and effects were similar for boys and girls. Given that maternal depressive symptoms and sensitivity affected nonoverlapping areas of young children's emotion recognition, prevention and intervention efforts should focus on both alleviating maternal depressive symptoms and improving maternal sensitivity at the same time in order to maximize benefit.
For over a decade, the structure of the inner “hole” in the transition disk around TW Hydrae has been a subject of debate. To probe the innermost regions of the protoplanetary disk, observations at the highest possible spatial resolution are required. We present new interferometric data of TW Hya from near-infrared to millimeter wavelengths. We confront existing models of the disk structure with the complete data set and develop a new, detailed radiative-transfer model. This model is characterized by: 1) a spatial separation of the largest grains from the small disk grains; and 2) a smooth inner rim structure, rather than a sharp disk edge.
A prospective longitudinal study was conducted on 96 smallholder duck farms in Indonesia over a period of 14 months in 2007 and 2008 to monitor bird- and flock-level incidence rates of H5 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) infection in duck flocks, and to identify risk factors associated with these flocks becoming H5 seropositive. Flocks that scavenged around neighbouring houses within the village were at increased risk of developing H5 antibodies, as were flocks from which carcases of birds that died during the 2 months between visits were consumed by the family. Duck flock confinement overnight on the farm and sudden deaths of birds between visits were associated with lower risk of the flock developing H5 antibodies. Scavenging around neighbouring houses and non-confinement overnight are likely to be causal risk factors for infection. With this study we have provided insights into farm-level risk factors of HPAI virus introduction into duck flocks. Preventive messages based on these risk factors should be included in HPAI awareness programmes.
Maternal fish consumption during pregnancy has been suggested to affect birth outcomes. Previous studies mainly focused on birth outcomes and did not study fetal growth during pregnancy. In a prospective cohort study from early pregnancy onwards in The Netherlands, we assessed the associations of first-trimester maternal total-fish, lean-fish, fatty-fish and shellfish consumption with fetal growth characteristics in the second and third trimesters, growth characteristics at birth and the risks of neonatal complications, including pre-term birth, low birth weight and small for gestational age. In total, 3380 mothers completed a 293-item semi-quantitative FFQ to obtain information about fish consumption during the first trimester of pregnancy. Head circumference, femur length and fetal weight were estimated in the second and third trimesters by ultrasound. Information about birth anthropometrics and neonatal complications was available from hospital and midwife registries. Maternal older age, higher educational level, folic acid supplement use, alcohol use and not smoking were associated with higher fish consumption (P < 0·01). After adjustment, we observed no consistent associations of maternal total-fish consumption or specific consumption of lean fish, fatty fish or shellfish with fetal growth characteristics in the second and third trimesters and at birth. Likewise, total-fish consumption or specific consumption of any type of fish was not consistently associated with the risks of neonatal complications. These findings suggest that in a population with a relatively low fish intake, consumption of lean fish, fatty fish or shellfish in the first trimester is not associated with fetal growth or the risks of neonatal complications.
Anxiety is both an innate and a constructed response to perceived and anticipated threat. This chapter explores anxiety as signal, symptom and syndrome, and describes the evolution of the major psychodynamic models of signal anxiety. The major psychodynamic models of signal anxiety posit anxiety as a signal of unconscious, intrapsychic danger. Neurobiological factors also contribute to the development and expression of anxiety symptoms and syndromes. Imaging techniques have been used to illustrate the presence of unconscious processes that to date have only been hypothesized; specifically that unconscious affects are a crucial determinant of behavior. Many symptomatic patients were forced to make adaptations to internal and external threats in early childhood. Ironically, the treatment of symptomatic anxiety may create an anxiety of its own, the anxiety about change. Many patients present with the acute onset of anxiety symptoms but do not meet the criteria for an Axis I anxiety disorder.