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The International Clearinghouse for Birth Defects, Surveillance and Research reports a rise in the prevalence rate of spina bifida in Japan. We determined first-trimester folate status of Hokkaido women and identified potential predictors. Participants were 15 266 pregnant women of the Hokkaido Study on Environment and Children’s Health Cohort. Data were extracted from self-reported questionnaires and biochemical assay results. Demographic determinants of low folate status were younger maternal age (adjusted OR (AOR) 1·48; 95 % CI 1·32, 1·66), lower educational level (AOR 1·27; 95 % CI 1·17, 1·39) and lower annual income (AOR 1·11; 95 % CI 1·01, 1·22). Plasma cotinine concentrations of 1·19–65·21 nmol/l increased the risk of low folate status (AOR 1·20; 95 % CI 1·10, 1·31) and concentrations >65·21 nmol/l further increased the risk (AOR 1·91; 95 % CI 1·70, 2·14). The most favourable predictor was use of folic acid (FA) supplements (AOR 0·19; 95 % CI 0·17, 0·22). Certain socio-demographic factors influence folate status among pregnant Japanese women. Modifiable negative and positive predictors were active and passive tobacco smoking and use of FA supplements. Avoiding both active and passive tobacco smoking and using FA supplements could improve the folate status of Japanese women.
Observation of the internal ultrastructure of human chromosomes by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) has frequently been attempted in spite of the difficulties in detaching metaphase chromosome spreads from the glass slide for further processing. In this study we have used a method in which metaphase chromosome spreads were prepared on a flexible thermoplastic membrane (ACLAR) film. To assess chromosome identity, a diamidino-phenylindole staining and karyotying was first done using a conventional cytogenetic system. The chromosome spreads were then fixed with 1% osmium tetroxide, stained with freshly prepared 2% tannic acid, dehydrated, and flat-embedded in epoxy resin. The resin sheet was easily detachable and carried whole chromosome spreads. By this method, TEM observation of chromosomes from normal human lymphocytes allowed a thorough examination of the ultrastructure of centromeres, telomeres, fragile sites, and other chromosomal regions. Various ultrastructural patterns including thick electron dense boundaries, less dense internal regions, and extended chromatin loops at the periphery of the chromosomes were discernible. Application of the present method to chromosome research is expected to provide comprehensive information on the internal ultrastructure of different chromosomal regions in relation to function.
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