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Environmental adversity increases child susceptibility to disrupted developmental outcomes, but the mechanisms by which adversity can shape development remain unclear. A translational cross-species approach was used to examine stress-mediated pathways by which poverty-related adversity can influence infant social development. Findings from a longitudinal sample of low-income mother–infant dyads indicated that infant cortisol (CORT) on its own did not mediate relations between early-life scarcity-adversity exposure and later infant behavior in a mother-child interaction task. However, maternal CORT through infant CORT served as a mediating pathway, even when controlling for parenting behavior. Findings using a rodent “scarcity-adversity” model indicated that pharmacologically blocking pup corticosterone (CORT, rodent equivalent to cortisol) in the presence of a stressed mother causally prevented social transmission of scarcity-adversity effects on pup social behavior. Furthermore, pharmacologically increasing pup CORT without the mother present was not sufficient to disrupt pup social behavior. Integration of our cross-species results suggests that elevated infant CORT may be necessary, but without elevated caregiver CORT, may not be sufficient in mediating the effects of environmental adversity on development. These findings underscore the importance of considering infant stress physiology in relation to the broader social context, including caregiver stress physiology, in research and interventional efforts.
Gravitational waves from coalescing neutron stars encode information about nuclear matter at extreme densities, inaccessible by laboratory experiments. The late inspiral is influenced by the presence of tides, which depend on the neutron star equation of state. Neutron star mergers are expected to often produce rapidly rotating remnant neutron stars that emit gravitational waves. These will provide clues to the extremely hot post-merger environment. This signature of nuclear matter in gravitational waves contains most information in the 2–4 kHz frequency band, which is outside of the most sensitive band of current detectors. We present the design concept and science case for a Neutron Star Extreme Matter Observatory (NEMO): a gravitational-wave interferometer optimised to study nuclear physics with merging neutron stars. The concept uses high-circulating laser power, quantum squeezing, and a detector topology specifically designed to achieve the high-frequency sensitivity necessary to probe nuclear matter using gravitational waves. Above 1 kHz, the proposed strain sensitivity is comparable to full third-generation detectors at a fraction of the cost. Such sensitivity changes expected event rates for detection of post-merger remnants from approximately one per few decades with two A+ detectors to a few per year and potentially allow for the first gravitational-wave observations of supernovae, isolated neutron stars, and other exotica.
As the primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), hypertension is the leading cause of preventable, premature mortality globally. Hypertension, or elevated blood pressure (BP), has a number of well-established risk factors, including genetics. A common C677T polymorphism in the gene encoding the folate metabolising enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) affects 10–12% of UK and Irish populations and has been linked with 24–87% increased risk of hypertension globally. Evidence from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) conducted at this Centre has shown BP to be highly responsive (by 5–13 mmHg) to supplementation with riboflavin (MTHFR co-factor), an effect confined to homozygous individuals (TT genotype). To date, our trials have focused on peripheral BP; however, additional measures of vascular health such as central pressure are reported to be more closely correlated with CVD risk. Investigation of central BP, augmentation index (AIx) and pulse pressure amplification (PPA) may thus offer further insight into the role of this gene-nutrient interaction in blood pressure. The present study aims to investigate BP, and measures of vascular health in healthy adults stratified by MTHFR 677 genotype. Apparently healthy adults aged 18–60 years were recruited from workplaces across Northern Ireland and screened for MTHFR genotype via buccal swab. Clinic BP, anthropometry and blood sample were measured in TT individuals (n 209) and age and sex-matched CC (n 98) and CT (n 102) controls. AIx and central BP were assessed using SphygmoCor® (AtCor Medical, Australia). Preliminary results demonstrate higher BP in individuals with the MTHFR 677TT genotype compared to non-TT controls (systolic BP 134.7 ± 13.8 mmHg vs 129.7 ± 12.4 mmHg, P < 0.001; diastolic BP 81.6 ± 9.5 mmHg vs 79.7 mmHg ± 8.9 mmHg, P = 0.023, respectively). The MTHFR 677TT genotype group had significantly higher central systolic BP (119.4 ± 11.8 vs 116.7 ± 10.9 mmHg, P = 0.018), central pulse pressure (P = 0.006) and central mean pressure (P = 0.011) compared to the non-TT group. No significant differences for central diastolic BP, pulse pressure amplification, pulse pressure ratio and augmentation index were observed. This study confirms the phenotype of elevated BP in individuals with the C677T polymorphism in the gene encoding MTHFR. For the first time, this study reports that individuals with the MTHFR 677TT genotype have higher central systolic BP, central mean pressure and pulse pressure. Further investigations through RCTs investigating the effect of the MTHFR cofactor, riboflavin, on central blood pressure in these genetically at-risk adults are warranted.
Diet is considered one of the key drivers of the world-wide obesity epidemic, and the gut microbiota may play a role in this multifaceted disease due to their mutualistic relationship. This study investigated relationships between habitual dietary intake of New Zealand European and Pacific women and their gut microbiota and body fat content. Pacific (44%) and NZ European (NZE; 56%) women (n = 287) aged 18–45 years were recruited based on body mass index (normal versus obese) and stratified as low (< 35%) or high (≥ 35%) body fat percentage (BF%). Dietary intake was assessed with a 5-day estimated food record and a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire, which were used to calculate habitual dietary intake using the National Cancer Institute (NCI) method. BF% was assessed by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Fasting blood samples were analysed for markers of insulin sensitivity. The DNA from faecal samples was analysed following shotgun sequencing. There were no significant differences in BF% between Pacific and NZE women (p = 0.498). Significant differences in homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) index were observed between Pacific (3.4 [2.3, 5.9]) and NZE (2.1 [1.5, 3.1], p ≤ 0.001) women, and between; low-BF% (1.9 [1.3, 2.7]) and high-BF% (3.4 [2.5, 5.9], p ≤ 0.001) groups. The highest (27.6g/d [24.9, 30.6]) compared to the lowest tertile (16g/d [13.3, 17.6]) of habitual total dietary fibre (DF) intake was associated with a significantly lower HOMA-IR (2.1 [1.3, 3.1] versus 3.3 [2.1, 5.3] p ≤ 0.001) respectively. Higher DF intake was also associated with significantly lower BF% (β -0.35, p ≤ 0.001), and this relationship became stronger when considering the intake of other macronutrients (β -0.47, p ≤ 0.001). Alpha diversity; observed taxonomic units (OTU's; rs = -0.15, p = 0.011), Pielou's evenness (rs = -0.20, p = 0.001), and Shannon index (rs = -0.22, p ≤ 0.001), were all negatively correlated with BF%. In contrast BF% was positively correlated with the Firmicutes:Bacteroidetes ratio (rs = 0.26, p ≤ 0.001). HOMA-IR index was significantly higher in Pacific and women in the higher BF% group, indicating an increased metabolic disease risk. Higher habitual DF intake was associated with lower BF% and HOMA-IR, suggesting a potential metabolically protective effect. The positive effects of higher DF intake may be associated with microbiota diversity, as higher BF% was associated with reduced alpha diversity and an increased Firmicutes:Bacteroidetes ratio. Further analysis will explore which foods contributed to the higher DF intake, and associations with body composition, microbiota and biomarkers of metabolic health.
Psychotropic medication use and psychiatric symptoms during pregnancy each are associated with adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes in offspring. Commonly, studies considering medication effects do not adequately assess symptoms, nor evaluate children when the effects are believed to occur, the fetal period. This study examined maternal serotonin reuptake inhibitor and polypharmacy use in relation to serial assessments of five indices of fetal neurobehavior and Bayley Scales of Infant Development at 12 months in N = 161 socioeconomically advantaged, non-Hispanic White women with a shared risk phenotype, diagnosed major depressive disorder. On average fetuses showed the expected development over gestation. In contrast, infant average Bayley psychomotor and mental development scores were low (M = 84.10 and M = 89.92, range of normal limits 85–114) with rates of delay more than 2–3 times what would be expected based on this measure's normative data. Controlling for prenatal and postnatal depressive symptoms, prenatal medication effects on neurobehavioral development were largely undetected in the fetus and infant. Mental health care directed primarily at symptoms may not address the additional psychosocial needs of women parenting infants. Speculatively, prenatal serotonin reuptake inhibitor exposure may act as a plasticity rather than risk factor, potentially enhancing receptivity to a nonoptimal postnatal environment in some mother–infant dyads.
Children reared in impoverished environments are at risk for enduring psychological and physical health problems. Mechanisms by which poverty affects development, however, remain unclear. To explore one potential mechanism of poverty's impact on social–emotional and cognitive development, an experimental examination of a rodent model of scarcity-adversity was conducted and compared to results from a longitudinal study of human infants and families followed from birth (N = 1,292) who faced high levels of poverty-related scarcity-adversity. Cross-species results supported the hypothesis that altered caregiving is one pathway by which poverty adversely impacts development. Rodent mothers assigned to the scarcity-adversity condition exhibited decreased sensitive parenting and increased negative parenting relative to mothers assigned to the control condition. Furthermore, scarcity-adversity reared pups exhibited decreased developmental competence as indicated by disrupted nipple attachment, distress vocalization when in physical contact with an anesthetized mother, and reduced preference for maternal odor with corresponding changes in brain activation. Human results indicated that scarcity-adversity was inversely correlated with sensitive parenting and positively correlated with negative parenting, and that parenting fully mediated the association of poverty-related risk with infant indicators of developmental competence. Findings are discussed from the perspective of the usefulness of bidirectional–translational research to inform interventions for at-risk families.
Mental health and wellbeing, including addressing impacts of historical trauma and substance use among young people, has been identified as a key priority by Indigenous communities and leaders across Canada and globally. Yet, research to understand mental health among young Indigenous people who have used drugs is limited.
To examine longitudinal risk and strengths-based factors associated with psychological distress among young Indigenous people who use drugs.
The Cedar Project is an ongoing cohort study involving young Indigenous people who use drugs in Vancouver, Prince George, and Chase, British Columbia, Canada. This study included participants who completed the Symptom Checklist-90-Revised, returned for follow-up between 2010 and 2012, and completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. Adjusted linear mixed-effects models estimated effects of study variables on changes in area T-scores of psychological distress.
Of 202 eligible participants, 53% were women and the mean age was 28 years. Among men, childhood maltreatment (emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect), any drug use, blackouts from drinking, and sex work were associated with increased distress. Among women, childhood maltreatment (emotional abuse, physical abuse, physical neglect), blackouts from drinking, and sexual assault were associated with increased distress, while having attempted to quit using drugs was associated with reduced distress. Marginal associations were observed between speaking their traditional language and living by traditional culture with lower distress among men.
Culturally safe mental wellness interventions are urgently needed to address childhood trauma and harmful coping strategies that exacerbate distress among young Indigenous people who use drugs.
Driving in persons with dementia poses risks that must be counterbalanced with the importance of the care for autonomy and mobility. Physicians often find substantial challenges in the assessment and reporting of driving safety for persons with dementia. This paper describes a driving in dementia decision tool (DD-DT) developed to aid physicians in deciding when to report older drivers with either mild dementia or mild cognitive impairment to local transportation administrators.
A multi-faceted, computerized decision support tool was developed, using a systematic literature and guideline review, expert opinion from an earlier Delphi study, as well as qualitative interviews and focus groups with physicians, caregivers of former drivers with dementia, and transportation administrators. The tool integrates inputs from the physician-user about the patient's clinical and driving history as well as cognitive findings, and it produces a recommendation for reporting to transportation administrators. This recommendation is translated into a customized reporting form for the transportation authority, if applicable, and additional resources are provided for the patient and caregiver.
An innovative approach was needed to develop the DD-DT. The literature and guideline review confirmed the algorithm derived from the earlier Delphi study, and barriers identified in the qualitative research were incorporated into the design of the tool.
The foetal mammary gland is sensitive to maternal weight and nutrition during gestation, which could affect offspring milk production. It has previously been shown that ewes born to dams offered maintenance nutrition during pregnancy (day 21 to 140 of gestation) produced greater milk, lactose and CP yields in their first lactation when compared with ewes born to dams offered ad libitum nutrition. In addition, ewes born to heavier dams produced greater milk and lactose yields when compared with ewes born to lighter dams. The objective of this study was to analyse and compare the 5-year lactation performance of the previously mentioned ewes, born to heavy or light dams that were offered maintenance or ad libitum pregnancy nutrition. Ewes were milked once per week, for the first 6 weeks of their lactation, for 5 years. Using milk yield and composition data, accumulated yields were calculated over a 42-day period for each year for milk, milk fat, CP, true protein, casein and lactose using a Legendre orthogonal polynomial model. Over the 5-year period, ewes born to heavy dams produced greater average milk (P=0.04), lactose (P=0.01) and CP (P=0.04) yields than offspring born to light dams. In contrast, over the 5-year period dam nutrition during pregnancy did not affect average (P>0.05) offspring milk yields or composition, but did increase milk and lactose accumulated yield (P=0.03 and 0.01, respectively) in the first lactation. These results indicate that maternal gestational nutrition appears to only affect the first lactational performance of ewe offspring. Neither dam nutrition nor size affected grand-offspring live weight gain to, or live weight at weaning (P>0.05). Combined these data indicate that under the conditions of the present study, manipulating dam weight or nutrition in pregnancy can have some effects of offspring lactational performance, however, these effects are not large enough to alter grand-offspring growth to weaning. Therefore, such manipulations are not a viable management tool for farmers to influence lamb growth to weaning.
Objective: The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) is a general cognitive
screening tool that has shown sensitivity in detecting mild levels of
cognitive impairment in various clinical populations. Although mood
dysfunction is common in referrals to memory clinics, the influence of mood
on the MoCA has to date been largely unexplored. Method: In this study, we examined the impact of mood dysfunction on the
MoCA using a memory clinic sample of individuals with depressive symptoms
who did not meet criteria for a neurodegenerative disease. Results: Half of the group with depressive symptoms scored below the
MoCA-suggested cutoff for cognitive impairment. As a group, they scored
below healthy controls, but above individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and
frontotemporal dementia. A MoCA subtask analysis revealed a pattern of
executive/attentional dysfunction in those with depressive symptoms. Conclusions: This observed negative impact of depressive symptomatology on the
MoCA has interpretative implications for its utility as a cognitive
screening tool in a memory clinic setting.
To describe treatment and referral patterns and National Health Service resource use in patients with chronic pain associated with low back pain or osteoarthritis, from a Primary Care perspective.
Osteoarthritis and low back pain are the two commonest debilitating causes of chronic pain, with high health and social costs, and particularly important in primary care. Understanding current practice and resource use in their management will inform health service and educational requirements and the design and optimisation of future care.
Multi-centre, retrospective, descriptive study of adults (⩾18 years) with chronic pain arising from low back pain or osteoarthritis, identified through primary care records. Five general practices in Scotland, England (two), Northern Ireland and Wales. All patients with a diagnosis of low back pain or osteoarthritis made on or before 01/09/2006 who had received three or more prescriptions for pain medication were identified and a sub-sample randomly selected then consented to an in-depth review of their medical records (n=264). Data on management of chronic pain were collected retrospectively from patients’ records for three years from diagnosis (‘newly diagnosed’ patients) or for the most recent three years (‘established’ patients).
Patients received a wide variety of pain medications with no overall common prescribing pattern. GP visits represented the majority of the resource use and ‘newly diagnosed’ patients were significantly more likely to visit their GP for pain management than ‘established’ patients. Although ‘newly diagnosed’ patients had more referrals outside the GP practice, the number of visits to secondary care for pain management was similar for both groups.
This retrospective study confirmed the complexity of managing these causes of chronic pain and the associated high resource use. It provides an in-depth picture of prescribing and referral patterns and of resource use.
This chapter introduces the use of confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and item response theory (IRT) modeling, particularly as each is used to evaluate measurement invariance of assessment devices. It covers CFA, which is a special case of the common factor model. The chapter discusses basic ideas with regard to model specification and evaluation. It explains how measurement invariance is pursued in CFA models. The chapter also discusses the parallel issues with regard to IRT models, including both basic forms of IRT model and the study of measurement invariance within such models. It provides illustrations of analyses with empirical data to demonstrate how to fit such models and evaluate results. While good introductory presentations are available for both CFA and IRT, the authors look forward to the increased use of the two techniques for investigating measurement invariance and improving the nature of measurements used in psychological sciences.
This study forms the first phase in the development of the Canadian National EMS Research Agenda. The purpose was to understand the current state of emergency medical services (EMS) research through the barriers and opportunities perceived by key stakeholders in the Canadian system and to identify the recommendations this group had for moving forward.
This qualitative study was conducted in the spring of 2011 using one-on-one semistructured telephone interviews. Purposeful sampling was used to recruit a cross section of EMS research stakeholders, representing a breadth of geographic regions and roles. Data were collected until thematic saturation was reached. A constant comparative approach was used to develop a basic coding framework and identify emerging themes.
Twenty stakeholders were invited to participate, and saturation was reached after 13 interviews. Thematic saturation was used to ensure that the findings were grounded in the data. Four major themes were identified: 1) the need for additional research education within EMS; 2) the importance of creating an infrastructure to support pan-Canadian research collaboration; 3) addressing the complexities of involving EMS providers in research; and 4) considerations for a national research agenda.
This hypothesis-generating study reveals key areas regarding EMS research in Canada and through the guidance it provides is a first step in the development of a comprehensive national research agenda. Our intention is to collate the identified themes with the results of a larger roundtable discussion and Delphi survey and, in doing so, guide development of a Canadian national EMS research agenda.