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The UK's relationship with the European Union (EU) is now embodied in two principal legal instruments: the EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which formally entered into force on 1 May 2021; and the Withdrawal Agreement, with its Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, which continues to apply. Using a ‘building blocks’ framework for analysis of national health systems derived from the World Health Organisation, this article examines the likely impacts in the UK of this legal settlement on the National Health Service (NHS), health and social care. Specifically, we determine the extent to which the trade, cooperation and regulatory aspects of those legal measures support positive impacts for the NHS and social care. We show that, as there is clear support for positive health and care outcomes in only one of the 17 NHS ‘building blocks’, unless mitigating action is taken, the likely outcomes will be detrimental. However, as the legal settlement gives the UK a great deal of regulatory freedom, especially in Great Britain, we argue that it is crucial to track the effects of proposed new health and social care-related policy choices in the months and years ahead.
Although members of monozygotic twin pairs are identical in genome sequence, they may differ in patterns of gene expression. One early and irreversible process affecting gene expression, which can create differences within pairs of female monozygotic twins, is X inactivation — one twin can express mainly paternally-received genes on the X chromosome while the other twin expresses mainly maternally-received genes. It follows that non-identical X chromosome expression may cause female monozygotic twins to correlate less strongly than male monozygotic twins on complex behavioural traits affected by X-linked loci. We tested this hypothesis using data from around 4000 same-sex twin pairs on 9 social, behavioural and cognitive measures at ages 2, 3 and 4. Consistent with our hypothesis, monozygotic males were generally more similar than monozygotic females. Three of four significant differences were in traits showing higher correlations in males than females, and these traits — prosocial behaviour, peer problems, and verbal ability — have all been proposed previously in the literature as being influenced by genes on the X chromosome. Interestingly, dizygotic twins showed the reverse pattern of correlations for similar variables, which is also consistent with the X inactivation hypothesis; taken together, then, our monozygotic and dizygotic results suggest the presence of quantitative trait loci on the X chromosome.
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