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Pre-Term Birth (PTB) affects 5–18 percent of livebirths worldwide and despite advances in neonatal care, is the leading global cause of death of children under 5 years of age. PTB remains a major health inequality, and rates are increasing. PTB is a multifactorial syndrome; the biological mechanisms involved are incompletely understood, although several risk factors exist which form the focus for preventive strategies. Maternal steroid and thyroid hormones, their biosynthesis and bioavailability is fundamental for the appropriate development of fetuses, and any perturbations to these processes can have adverse developmental outcome such as PTB. Prediction of PTB proves challenging although enables targeted therapies to be offered with the intention of preventing or delaying birth, without unnecessary overtreatment. Several interventions exist which reduce the severe morbidity and mortality from PTB, including antenatal corticosteroids and magnesium sulphate therapy. Animal models of PTB help developing future therapeutic candidates for prevention of PTB in women.
Bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS) has been used to track changes in total body water (TBW). Accurate TBW estimations can be influenced by both methodological and biological factors. One methodological variation that contributes to BIS TBW errors is the electrode placement. The purpose of the present study was to compare the reproducibility and validity of fixed-distance electrode placements (5 cm) with the standard single-site electrode placements. Twenty-nine subjects (fifteen men and fourteen women) participated in the reproducibility study, while sixty-nine subjects (thirty-three men and thirty-six women) participated in the validity study. The reproducibility study included two measurements that were taken 24 h apart, while the validity study consisted of a 12-week exercise intervention with measurements taken at weeks 1 and 12. TBW was estimated using BIS and 2H techniques. Reproducibility results indicated that fixed-distance electrodes reduced the day-to-day standard error of the measurement in men (from 1·13 to 0·81 litres) but not in women (0·47 litres). sem values were lower for women than for men, suggesting that BIS TBW estimates are sex dependent. Validity results produced similar accurate findings (mean difference < 0·21 litres). However, fixed-distance electrodes improved delta TBW errors (mean difference improvements>0·04 litres in men, women, and men and women combined). When tracking changes in TBW, fixed-distance electrodes may reduce reproducibility errors and allow for smaller changes to be detected. However, the reduction of reproducibility errors may be greater for men than for women. Therefore, reproducibility calculations should be based on the sex of the sample population.
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