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Despite the fact that social deficits among individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are lifelong and impact many aspects of personal functioning, evidence-based programs for social skills training were not available until recently. The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) has been shown to effectively improve social skills for adolescents on the spectrum across different social cultures. However, the effectiveness for young adults beyond North America has yet to be examined. This study aimed to investigate the effectiveness of the PEERS intervention in Taiwanese young adults with ASD, and examine its durability and clinical correlates.
We recruited 82 cognitively-able young adults with ASD, randomized to the PEERS treatment or treatment-as-usual.
Following treatment, significant improvement was found in aspects of social deficits, autism severity, social interaction anxiety, empathy, and social skills knowledge either by self-report or coach-report. Additionally, communicative behaviors rated by observers improved throughout the sessions, showing a trend toward more appropriate eye contact, gestures, facial expression during conversation, and appropriate maintenance of conversation and reciprocity. Most effects maintained at 3-month and 6-month follow-ups. The improvement of social deficits was positively correlated with baseline severity, while gains in social skills knowledge were positively correlated with IQ. The improvement of social deficits, autism severity, and empathy were positively correlated with each other.
Overall, the PEERS intervention appears to effectively improve social functioning in Taiwanese young adults with ASD. Improvement of social response and knowledge may be predicted by baseline severity and intelligence respectively.
Frozen embryo transfer (FET) has been adopted by growing number of reproductive medicine centers due to the improved outcome compared with fresh embryo transfer. However, few studies have focused on the impact of embryo cryopreservation duration on pregnancy-related complications and neonatal birthweight. Thus, a retrospective cohort study including all FET cycles with livebirth deliveries in a university affiliated hospital from May 2010 to September 2017 was conducted. These deliveries were grouped by the cryopreservation duration of the transferred embryo (≤3 months, 4–6 months, 7–12 months, and >12 months). The associations between embryo cryopreservation duration and pregnancy-related complications were evaluated among the groups using multinomial logistic regression. Neonatal birthweight was compared according to the stratification of singletons and multiples using multinomial and multilevel logistic regression, respectively. Among all 12,158 FET cycles, a total of 3864 livebirth deliveries comprising 2995 singletons and 1739 multiples were included. Compared with those within 3 months, women undergoing FET after a cryopreservation time longer than 3 months did not show any increased risk of gestational diabetes mellitus, gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, meconium staining of the amniotic fluid, or preterm birth. Furthermore, the risk of lower birthweight, macrosomia, small-for-gestational-age, or large-for-gestational-age for either singletons or multiples was not affected by long-term cryopreservation. In summary, embryo cryopreservation duration does not have negative effects on pregnancy-related complications or birthweight after FET.
Nosocomial outbreaks leading to healthcare worker (HCW) infection and death have been increasingly reported during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
We implemented a strategy to reduce nosocomial acquisition.
We summarized our experience in implementing a multipronged infection control strategy in the first 300 days (December 31, 2019, to October 25, 2020) of the COVID-19 pandemic under the governance of Hospital Authority in Hong Kong.
Of 5,296 COVID-19 patients, 4,808 (90.8%) were diagnosed in the first pandemic wave (142 cases), second wave (896 cases), and third wave (3,770 cases) in Hong Kong. With the exception of 1 patient who died before admission, all COVID-19 patients were admitted to the public healthcare system for a total of 78,834 COVID-19 patient days. The median length of stay was 13 days (range, 1–128). Of 81,955 HCWs, 38 HCWs (0.05%; 2 doctors and 11 nurses and 25 nonprofessional staff) acquired COVID-19. With the exception of 5 of 38 HCWs (13.2%) infected by HCW-to-HCW transmission in the nonclinical settings, no HCW had documented transmission from COVID-19 patients in the hospitals. The incidence of COVID-19 among HCWs was significantly lower than that of our general population (0.46 per 1,000 HCWs vs 0.71 per 1,000 population; P = .008). The incidence of COVID-19 among professional staff was significantly lower than that of nonprofessional staff (0.30 vs 0.66 per 1,000 full-time equivalent; P = .022).
A hospital-based approach spared our healthcare service from being overloaded. With our multipronged infection control strategy, no nosocomial COVID-19 in was identified among HCWs in the first 300 days of the COVID-19 pandemic in Hong Kong.
Schizophrenia patients have markedly elevated prevalence of diabetes compared with the general population. However, risk of mortality and diabetes-related complications among schizophrenia patients with co-occurring diabetes is understudied.
We investigated whether schizophrenia increased the risk of overall mortality, complications and post-complication mortality in people with diabetes.
This population-based, propensity-score matched (1:10) cohort study identified 6991 patients with incident diabetes and pre-existing schizophrenia and 68 682 patients with incident diabetes only between 2001 and 2016 in Hong Kong using a medical record database of public healthcare services. Association between schizophrenia and all-cause mortality was examined with a Cox proportional hazards model. Effect of schizophrenia on first-year complication occurrence following diabetes diagnosis and post-complication mortality rates were evaluated.
Schizophrenia was associated with increased all-cause mortality (adjusted hazards ratio [aHR] 1.11, 95% CI 1.05–1.18), particularly among men and older age groups. Schizophrenia patients with diabetes had higher metabolic complication rate (aHR 1.99, 95% CI 1.63–2.42), lower microvascular complication rate (aHR 0.75, 95% CI 0.65–0.86) and comparable macrovascular complication rate (aHR 0.93, 95% CI 0.85–1.03), relative to patients with diabetes only. Among patients with diabetes complications, schizophrenia was associated with elevated all-cause mortality after macrovascular (aHR 1.19, 95% CI 1.04–1.37) and microvascular (aHR 1.33, 95% CI 1.08–1.64) complications. Gender-stratified analyses revealed that a significant effect of schizophrenia on heightened post-complication mortality was observed in men only.
Schizophrenia patients with co-occurring diabetes are at increased risk of excess mortality, including post-complication mortality. Further research identifying effective interventions is warranted to optimise diabetes-related outcomes in this vulnerable population.
Extensive environmental contamination by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been reported in hospitals during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We report our experience with the practice of directly observed environmental disinfection (DOED) in a community isolation facility (CIF) and a community treatment facility (CTF) in Hong Kong.
The CIF, with 250 single-room bungalows in a holiday camp, opened on July 24, 2020, to receive step-down patients from hospitals. The CTF, with 500 beds in open cubicles inside a convention hall, was activated on August 1, 2020, to admit newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients from the community. Healthcare workers (HCWs) and cleaning staff received infection control training to reinforce donning and doffing of personal protective equipment and to understand the practice of DOED, in which the cleaning staff observed patient and staff activities and then performed environmental disinfection immediately thereafter. Supervisors also observed cleaning staff to ensure the quality of work. In the CTF, air and environmental samples were collected on days 7, 14, 21, and 28 for SARS-CoV-2 detection by RT-PCR. Patient compliance with mask wearing was also recorded.
Of 291 HCWs and 54 cleaning staff who managed 243 patients in the CIF and 674 patients in the CTF from July 24 to August 29, 2020, no one acquired COVID-19. All 24 air samples and 520 environmental samples collected in the patient area of the CTF were negative for SARS-CoV-2. Patient compliance with mask wearing was 100%.
With appropriate infection control measures, zero environmental contamination and nosocomial transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to HCWs and cleaning staff was achieved.
Recent imaging studies of large datasets suggested that psychiatric disorders have common biological substrates. This study aimed to identify all the common neural substrates with connectomic abnormalities across four major psychiatric disorders by using the data-driven connectome-wide association method of multivariate distance matrix regression (MDMR).
This study analyzed a resting functional magnetic resonance imaging dataset of 100 patients with schizophrenia, 100 patients with bipolar I disorder, 100 patients with bipolar II disorder, 100 patients with major depressive disorder, and 100 healthy controls (HCs). We calculated a voxel-wise 4,330 × 4,330 matrix of whole-brain functional connectivity (FC) with 8-mm isotropic resolution for each participant and then performed MDMR to identify structures where the overall multivariate pattern of FC was significantly different between each patient group and the HC group. A conjunction analysis was performed to identify common neural regions with FC abnormalities across these four psychiatric disorders.
The conjunction of the MDMR maps revealed that the four groups of patients shared connectomic abnormalities in distributed cortical and subcortical structures, which included bilateral thalamus, cerebellum, frontal pole, supramarginal gyrus, postcentral gyrus, lingual gyrus, lateral occipital cortex, and parahippocampus. The follow-up analysis based on pair-wise FC of these regions demonstrated that these psychiatric disorders also shared similar patterns of FC abnormalities characterized by sensory/subcortical hyperconnectivity, association/subcortical hypoconnectivity, and sensory/association hyperconnectivity.
These findings suggest that major psychiatric disorders share common connectomic abnormalities in distributed cortical and subcortical regions and provide crucial support for the common network hypothesis of major psychiatric disorders.
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.
Scientific interest in the therapeutic effects of classical psychedelics has increased in the past two decades. The psychological effects of these substances outside the period of acute intoxication have not been fully characterized. This study aimed to: (1) quantify the effects of psilocybin, ayahuasca, and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) on psychological outcomes in the post-acute period; (2) test moderators of these effects; and (3) evaluate adverse effects and risk of bias.
We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of experimental studies (single-group pre-post or randomized controlled trials) that involved administration of psilocybin, ayahuasca, or LSD to clinical or non-clinical samples and assessed psychological outcomes ⩾24 h post-administration. Effects were summarized by study design, timepoint, and outcome domain.
A total of 34 studies (24 unique samples, n = 549, mean longest follow-up = 55.34 weeks) were included. Classical psychedelics showed significant within-group pre-post and between-group placebo-controlled effects on a range of outcomes including targeted symptoms within psychiatric samples, negative and positive affect-related measures, social outcomes, and existential/spiritual outcomes, with large between-group effect in these domains (Hedges' gs = 0.84 to 1.08). Moderator tests suggest some effects may be larger in clinical samples. Evidence of effects on big five personality traits and mindfulness was weak. There was no evidence of post-acute adverse effects.
High risk of bias in several domains, heterogeneity across studies, and indications of publication bias for some models highlight the need for careful, large-scale, placebo-controlled randomized trials.
Universal masking for healthcare workers and patients in hospitals was adopted to combat coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), with compliance rates of 100% and 75.9%, respectively. Zero rates of nosocomial influenza A, influenza B, and respiratory syncytial virus infection were achieved from February to April 2020, which was significantly lower than the corresponding months in 2017–2019.
This study aimed to evaluate associations between toxoplasmosis and psychiatric disorders in Taiwan based on the National Health Insurance Research Database, Taiwan (1997–2013). Patients newly diagnosed with toxoplasmosis formed the case group (n = 259), and the control group included propensity-score matched patients without toxoplasmosis (n = 1036). The primary outcome was incidence of psychiatric disorders. Cox proportional hazards regression and stratified analyses were performed to examine risk of developing specific psychiatric disorders between patients with and without toxoplasmosis. Patients with toxoplasmosis had significantly higher incidence of psychiatric disorders than those without toxoplasmosis (P = 0.016). A significant difference was found in numbers of psychiatric disorders between the two groups during 14 years of follow-up (log-rank P < 0.001). Those with toxoplasmosis had significantly higher risk of bipolar disorder [adjusted hazard ratio (aHR = 3.60, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 2.07, 7.26), depression (aHR = 4.94, 95% CI = 2.15, 11.80) and anxiety (aHR = 5.36, 95% CI = 2.98, 25.88), but no significant between-group differences were found for schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders. In conclusion, the present nationwide population-based analysis revealed that Toxoplasma gondii infection in Taiwan significantly increases the risk for developing bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety, but not for schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.
Little is known about methylphenidate (MPH) use and mortality outcomes.
To investigate the association between MPH use and mortality among children with an attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis.
This population-based cohort study analysed data from Taiwan's National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD). A total of 68 096 children and adolescents aged 4–17 years with an ADHD diagnosis and prescribed MPH between 2000 and 2010 were compared with 68 096 without an MPH prescription, matched on age, gender and year of first ADHD diagnosis. All participants were followed to death, migration, withdrawal from the National Health Insurance programme or 31 December 2013. MPH prescriptions were measured on a yearly basis during the study period, and the association between MPH use and mortality was analysed using a repeated-measures time-dependent Cox regression model. The outcome measures included all-cause, unnatural-cause (including suicide, accident and homicide) and natural-cause mortality, obtained from linkage to the National Mortality Register in Taiwan.
The MPH group had lower unadjusted all-cause, natural-, unnatural- and accident-cause mortality than the comparison group. After controlling for potential confounders, MPH use was associated with a significantly lower all-cause mortality (adjusted hazard ratio AHR = 0.81, 95% CI 0.67–0.98, P = 0.027), delayed use of MPH was associated with higher mortality (AHR = 1.05, 95% CI 1.01–1.09) and longer MPH use was associated with lower mortality (AHR = 0.83, 95% CI 0.70–0.98).
MPH use is associated with a reduced overall mortality in children with ADHD in this cohort study, but unmeasured confounding cannot be excluded absolutely.
Studies have suggested the detrimental effects of obesity and systemic inflammation on the cognitive function of patients with bipolar or major depressive disorder. However, the complex associations between affective disorder, obesity, systemic inflammation, and cognitive dysfunction remain unclear.
Overall, 110 patients with affective disorder (59 with bipolar I disorder and 51 with major depressive disorder) who scored ≥61 on the Global Assessment of Functioning and 51 age- and sex-matched controls were enrolled. Body mass index ≥25 kg/m2 was defined as obesity or overweight. Levels of proinflammatory cytokines—including interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, and C-reactive protein (CRP)—were measured, and cognitive function was assessed using various methods, including the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) and go/no-go task.
Patients with bipolar I disorder or major depressive disorder were more likely to be obese or overweight, had higher CRP and TNF-α levels, and had greater executive dysfunction in the WCST than the controls. TNF-α level (P < .05) but not affective disorder diagnosis or obesity/overweight was significantly associated with cognitive function deficits, although obesity/overweight and diagnosis were significantly associated with increased TNF-α level.
Our findings may indicate that proinflammatory cytokines, but not obesity or overweight, have crucial effects on cognitive function in patients with bipolar I disorder or major depressive disorder, although proinflammatory cytokines and obesity or overweight were found to be strongly associated. The complex relationships between affective disorder diagnosis, proinflammatory cytokine levels, obesity or overweight, and cognitive function require further investigation.
The role of severe respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)–laden aerosols in the transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) remains uncertain. Discordant findings of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in air samples were noted in early reports.
Sampling of air close to 6 asymptomatic and symptomatic COVID-19 patients with and without surgical masks was performed with sampling devices using sterile gelatin filters. Frequently touched environmental surfaces near 21 patients were swabbed before daily environmental disinfection. The correlation between the viral loads of patients’ clinical samples and environmental samples was analyzed.
All air samples were negative for SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the 6 patients singly isolated inside airborne infection isolation rooms (AIIRs) with 12 air changes per hour. Of 377 environmental samples near 21 patients, 19 (5.0%) were positive by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay, with a median viral load of 9.2 × 102 copies/mL (range, 1.1 × 102 to 9.4 × 104 copies/mL). The contamination rate was highest on patients’ mobile phones (6 of 77, 7.8%), followed by bed rails (4 of 74, 5.4%) and toilet door handles (4 of 76, 5.3%). We detected a significant correlation between viral load ranges in clinical samples and positivity rate of environmental samples (P < .001).
SARS-CoV-2 RNA was not detectable by air samplers, which suggests that the airborne route is not the predominant mode of transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Wearing a surgical mask, appropriate hand hygiene, and thorough environmental disinfection are sufficient infection control measures for COVID-19 patients isolated singly in AIIRs. However, this conclusion may not apply during aerosol-generating procedures or in cohort wards with large numbers of COVID-19 patients.
The relationship between the subtypes of psychotic experiences (PEs) and common mental health symptoms remains unclear. The current study aims to establish the 12-month prevalence of PEs in a representative sample of community-dwelling Chinese population in Hong Kong and explore the relationship of types of PEs and common mental health symptoms.
This is a population-based two-phase household survey of Chinese population in Hong Kong aged 16–75 (N = 5719) conducted between 2010 and 2013 and a 2-year follow-up study of PEs positive subjects (N = 152). PEs were measured with Psychosis Screening Questionnaire (PSQ) and subjects who endorsed any item on the PSQ without a clinical diagnosis of psychotic disorder were considered as PE-positive. Types of PEs were characterized using a number of PEs (single v. multiple) and latent class analysis. All PE-positive subjects were assessed with common mental health symptoms and suicidal ideations at baseline and 2-year follow-up. PE status was also assessed at 2-year follow-up.
The 12-month prevalence of PEs in Hong Kong was 2.7% with 21.1% had multiple PEs. Three latent classes of PEs were identified: hallucination, paranoia and mixed. Multiple PEs and hallucination latent class of PEs were associated with higher levels of common mental health symptoms. PE persistent rate at 2-year follow-up was 15.1%. Multiple PEs was associated with poorer mental health at 2-year follow-up.
Results highlighted the transient and heterogeneous nature of PEs, and that multiple PEs and hallucination subtype of PEs may be specific indices of poorer common mental health.
The antidepressant effect of low-dose ketamine infusion on Taiwanese patients with anxious vs nonanxious treatment-resistant depression (ANX-TRD vs NANX-TRD) has remained unknown.
In total, 71 patients with TRD were randomized to three groups. Each group had participants who received saline infusions mixed with 0 (a normal saline infusion), 0.2, and 0.5 mg/kg of ketamine. Participants were followed up for 2 weeks. Anxious depression was defined as major depressive disorder with a total score of 7 or more on the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale Anxiety-Somatization factor. Generalized estimating equation models were used to investigate the effects of treatment (ketamine vs placebo) and depression type (ANX-TRD vs NANX-TRD) in the reduction of depressive symptoms during the follow-up period.
Patients with ANX-TRD were less likely to respond to a single low-dose ketamine infusion than those with NANX-TRD. Among patients with NANX-TRD, low-dose ketamine infusion was significantly superior to placebo for reducing depressive symptoms. However, among patients with ANX-TRD, ketamine was not superior to placebo; nonetheless, approximately 30% of the patients responded to ketamine infusion compared to 13% who responded to the placebo.
Low-dose ketamine infusion was effective for Taiwanese patients with NANX-TRD but not so effective for those with ANX-TRD. A higher level of anxiety severity accompanying depression was related to greater depression severity. This may confound and reduce the antidepressant effect of ketamine infusion.
It is well-known that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is associated with changes in the dopaminergic system. However, the relationship between central dopaminergic tone and the blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal during receipt of rewards and penalties in the corticostriatal pathway in adults with ADHD is unclear.
Single-photon emission computed tomography with [99mTC]TRODAT-1 was used to assess striatal dopamine transporter (DAT) availability. Event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging was conducted on subjects performing the Iowa Gambling Test.
DAT availability was found to be associated with the BOLD response, which was a covariate of monetary loss, in the medial prefrontal cortex (r = 0.55, P = .03), right ventral striatum (r = 0.69, P = .003), and right orbital frontal cortex (r = 0.53, P = .03) in adults with ADHD. However, a similar correlation was not found in the controls.
The results confirmed that dopaminergic tone may play a different role in the penalty-elicited response of adults with ADHD. It is plausible that a lower neuro-threshold accompanied by insensitivity to punishment could be exacerbated by the hypodopaminergic tone in ADHD.
This study aimed to describe outcomes in four women aged 28–34 years with central cytoplasmic granulation (CCG) of the oocytes who underwent in vitro fertilization/intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) using gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist to replace human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) as a trigger of final oocyte maturation. The initial ICSI procedure showed that all four women had CCG of the ooplasm and poor quality embryos. Subsequent ICSI used an antagonist protocol with a GnRH agonist trigger replacing the agonist protocol, plus hCG triggered ovulation. Ooplasm and embryo quality were improved in all four patients. All four became pregnant and gave birth to live infants. This study provides GnRH agonist triggering that may improve ooplasm granularity and embryo quality.