Early-life exposure to environmental microbial agents may be associated with development of wheezing and allergic diseases.
To assess the association of microbial exposure in rural homes with the risk of asthma, wheezing, atopic dermatitis and sensitization.
Birth cohorts of rural children (n = 1133), half from farmer families, were followed up from birth to 2 years of age by questionnaires in five European centres. Endotoxin and extracellular polysaccharides (EPS) of Penicillium and Aspergillus spp. were determined from living room floor and mother's mattress dust samples collected at 2 months of age. Specific IgE against 19 allergens was measured at 1 year of age. Discrete-time hazard models, generalized estimations equations (GEE) and logistic regression were used for statistical analyses.
The incidence of asthma was inversely associated with the amount of dust (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 0.73, 95% CI 0.58-0.93) and the loads (units/m(2)) of EPS (aOR 0.75, 95% CI 0.55-1.04) and endotoxin (aOR 0.79, 95% CI 0.60-1.05) in the mother's mattress. Similar associations were seen with wheezing and with living room floor dust. The microbial markers were highly correlated and their effects could not be clearly separated. The inverse associations were seen especially among non-farmers. The risk of sensitization to inhalant allergens increased with increasing endotoxin exposure from mattress dust. No associations were observed with concentrations (units/g) or with atopic dermatitis.
The amount and microbial content of house dust were inversely associated with asthma and wheezing, but due to high correlations between microbial agents and amount of dust, it was not possible to disentangle their individual effects. New ways to better measure and represent exposure to environmental microbes, including indexes of biodiversity, are needed especially among farmers.
BACKGROUND: Legislation was passed in Sweden to stimulate the development of different housing solutions for persons suffering from severe mental illness. Among these solutions are small congregate residences built in the community to provide suitable housing and support for those not able or willing to live independently. AIMS: The general aim of the present study was to compare the psychosocial environment of two types of residences for the persons with severe mental illness - congregate community residences and psychiatric inpatient settings. A specific aim was to see if the former provided higher levels of autonomy than the latter. METHODS: In this cross-sectional study the real version of the Community Oriented Program Environmental Scale (COPES) was administered to residents, patients and staff members. RESULTS: The study showed that the psychosocial environment differs between the two types of settings. Residents and staff in small congregate residences rated higher levels of Autonomy and lower levels of Practical Orientation, Anger and Aggression and Order and Organisation than patients and staff in inpatient settings. CONCLUSIONS: The psychosocial environment profiles for psychiatric settings in different phases of the care process may vary in terms of the aforementioned subscales.
To examine and describe the factors promoting sustainable work in women with fibromyalgia (FM).
A qualitative interview study. Twenty-seven gainfully employed women with FM participated in five focus group interviews. Their median age was 52 years, ranging from 33 to 62. The interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed by qualitative latent content analysis.
Four categories were identified describing factors promoting sustainable work: the meaning of work and individual strategies were individual promoters while a favourable work environment and social support outside work were environmental promoters. The meaning of work included individual meaning and social meaning. The individual strategies included handling symptoms, the work day and long-term work life. A favourable work environment included the physical and psychosocial work environment. Social support outside work included societal and private social supports.
Promoting factors for work were identified, involving individual and environmental factors. These working women with FM had developed advanced well-functioning strategies to enhance their work ability. The development of such strategies should be supported by health-care professionals as well as employers to promote sustainable work in women with FM.
Work disability is a common consequence of fibromyalgia (FM). Working women with FM appear to have developed advanced well-functioning individual strategies to enhance their work ability. The development of individual strategies should be supported by health-care professionals as well as employers to promote sustainable work and health in women with FM.
To explore the relation between employment status, type of unemployment and pregnancy outcomes.
A cohort study of 7,282 pregnancies of unemployed women and 56,014 pregnancies among women in paid jobs was performed within the Danish National Birth Cohort. Pregnancy outcomes were ascertained and information about lifestyle, occupational, medical, and obstetric factors was obtained. Logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios (OR) for fetal loss, congenital anomalies, multiple births, sex ratio, preterm and very preterm birth and small for gestational age status, adjusting for lifestyle, medical and obstetric factors.
There were no differences in pregnancy outcomes between employed and unemployed women but women receiving unemployment benefit had an increased risk of preterm birth (adjusted OR (aOR) 1.16, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.03-1.31) and having a small for gestational age child (aOR 1.08, 95% CI 1.00-1.19) compared with employed women. Women receiving sickness or maternity benefit had an increased risk of multiple birth (aOR 1.70, 95% CI 1.43-2.04), preterm (aOR 1.47, 95% CI 1.22-1.77) and very preterm birth (aOR 1.88, 95% CI 1.22-2.89), while those receiving an unreported type of support had an increased risk of preterm birth (aOR 1.40, 95% CI 1.02-1.93).
We found no indication that being unemployed during pregnancy benefits or endangers the health of the child. Within the subgroups of unemployed women, we observed that women receiving unemployment and sickness or maternity benefits were at higher risk for some adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Hyperemesis gravidarum (hyperemesis), characterised by severe nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy, has an unknown aetiology. The aim of the present study was to investigate food and nutrient intake before pregnancy and the risk of developing hyperemesis in women participating in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. From 1999 to 2002, a total of 7710 pregnant women answered a FFQ about their diet during the 12 months before becoming pregnant and a questionnaire about illnesses during pregnancy, including hyperemesis. Only women who were hospitalised for hyperemesis were included as cases. Nutrient intakes during the year before pregnancy did not differ between the ninety-nine women who developed hyperemesis and the 7611 who did not. However, the intake of seafood, allium vegetables and water was significantly lower among women who developed hyperemesis than among women in the non-hyperemesis group. Relative risks of hyperemesis were approximated as OR, and confounder control was performed with multiple logistic regression. Women in the upper tertile of seafood consumption had a lower risk of developing hyperemesis than those in the lower tertile (OR 0·56, 95 % CI 0·32, 0·98), and women in the second tertile of water intake had a lower risk of developing hyperemesis than those in the first tertile (OR 0·43, 95 % CI 0·25, 0·73). The findings suggest that a moderate intake of water and adherence to a healthy diet that includes vegetables and fish are associated with a lower risk of developing hyperemesis.
There has been a thrilling development , as well as profound changes, in our understanding of the effect of fetal nutrition on the development and health of the child. The Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) is an ongoing nationwide population-based pregnancy cohort study that between 1999 and 2008 recruited 90,723 women with 106,981 pregnancies and 108,487 children. The objective of MoBa is to test specific etiologic hypotheses by estimating the association between exposures and diseases with a special focus on disorders that may originate in early life. An important aspect in this regard is maternal diet and nutritional status during pregnancy. Nutritional factors have long been considered to be important determinants of maternal and fetal health, and dietary information is currently being collected in a number of pregnancy cohorts in Europe and the United States. Thus far, pregnancy complications studied in MoBa are preterm birth, preeclampsia, and fetal growth; and the aim of this article is to report results of recently published studies of dietary factors in relation to these outcomes. Numerous studies are planned using MoBa data, and the aim is to add to the knowledge of the interplay between dietary factors, nonnutrients, and toxic dietary substances and epigenetic modulation on fetal development and health later in life.
Pesticide exposure has been associated with various childhood cancers. However, most studies rely on questionnaires, with few using biologic measures of dose. This study was designed to measure herbicide exposure directly in children of farm applicators, and to compare these results with exposure imputed from questionnaire information.
Two consecutive 24-hour urine samples were collected from 92 children of Ontario farm applicators who used the herbicides 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) or MCPA (4-chloro-2-methylphenoxyacetic acid) for the first time during 1996. The farm applicator completed questionnaires describing his pesticide-handling practices as well as the child's location during the various stages of handling these pesticides.
Approximately 30% of the children on farms using these herbicides had detectable concentrations in their urine, with maximum values of 100 microg/L for 2,4-D and 45 microg/L for MCPA. Children with higher levels were more likely to be boys and to have parents who also had higher mean urinary concentrations. The sensitivity and specificity of a simple indicator of use were 47% and 72%, respectively, for 2,4-D, and 91% and 30%, respectively, for MCPA, using the biomonitoring data as the gold standard.
Information on living on a farm, or on living on a farm where a specific pesticide is used, is not enough to classify children's exposures. Given this potential for misclassification, we urge incorporation of biomonitoring studies in subsets of children at least to estimate the extent of misclassification.
The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of and risk factors for work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMDs) in female physiotherapists with more than 15 years of job experience. A self-administered postal questionnaire was sent to 203 female physiotherapists with more than 15 years of job experience. Unconditional logistic regression was used to study the association between job exposures and the risk for WRMDs. The questionnaire was returned by 131 physiotherapists (64.5%). Of 99 subjects who answered specific questions about WRMDs, 52 (53.5%) were affected by WRMDs in at least one body part. Regions most affected were the hand/wrist (n=31; 58.5%) and the lower back (n=30; 56.5%). For hand/wrist pain, associations were found with: orthopedic manual therapy techniques (adjusted odds ratio [OR]=3.90; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.2-13.1); working in awkward or cramped positions (OR=4.96; 95% CI=1.3-18.7); and high psychological job demands (OR=4.34; 95% CI=1.2-15.0). For lower back pain, associations were found with: working in awkward or cramped positions (adjusted OR=6.37; 95% CI=1.6-24.7); and kneeling or squatting (adjusted OR=4.76; 95% CI=1.4-15.9). More than half of the respondents reported WRMDs. General physical and psychosocial work-related exposures, as well as specific therapy tasks, were strongly associated with WRMDs. Larger, longitudinal studies are needed to determine the direction of causality.
Women (n = 87) at women's shelters in Norway, a country of high welfare and gender equality, reported a multitude of severe threats and actual acts of physical, sexual and psychological violence. An individual threatening to kill his partner represented a significant increased risk for experiencing serious acts of violence, especially when the threats were repeated. A self-administered questionnaire was sent to all the women's shelters. Experiences of violence were measured by The Severity of Violence against Women Scale (SVAWS) and the Psychological Maltreatment of Women Index (PMWI).
Policy measures that reduce or replace road traffic can improve environmental conditions in most large cities. In Stockholm a congestion charge was introduced during a test period in 2006. This was a full-scale trial that proved to meet its targets by reducing traffic crossing the inner city segment during rush hours by 20%. Emissions of carbon dioxide and particles were also substantially reduced. This study, based on in-depth interviews with 40 inhabitants, analyses how and why new travel habits emerged. The results show that particular, sometimes unexpected, features of everyday life (habits, resources, opportunities, values, etc.) were crucial for adjustment of travel behaviour in relation to the policy instrument. One example was that those accustomed to mixing different modes of transport on a daily basis more easily adapted their travel in the targeted way. On a more general level, the results revealed that the policy measure could actually tip the scales for the individual towards trying out a new behaviour.
In June 2008, the Alberta government released the Alberta Nutrition Guidelines for Children and Youth. We evaluated the awareness of and intent to use the guidelines in Alberta schools, and sought to determine whether organizational characteristics were a factor in adoption of the guidelines.
Randomly selected schools from across Alberta completed a 19-question telephone survey, which included open- and closed-ended questions about the schools' characteristics, the priority given to healthy eating, awareness of the guidelines, and the schools' intent to use the guidelines. Of the 554 schools contacted, 357 (64%) completed the survey.
Overall, 76.1% of schools were aware of the guidelines and 65% were in the process of adopting them. Fifty percent of schools identified healthy eating as a high priority and 65.9% reported making changes to improve the nutritional quality of foods offered in the past year. Schools that were larger, public, and urban, and had a school champion and healthy eating as a high priority were more likely to be adopting the guidelines.
Most schools were aware of the nutrition guidelines and many had begun the adoption process. Identifying a school champion may be an important first step for schools in terms of adopting health promotion initiatives.
The genetic/environmental etiology of Scheuermann's disease is unclear. We estimated the heritability of the disease using an etiological model adjusted for sex and time of diagnosis, and examined whether the prevalence of Scheuermann's disease was constant over time.
46,418 twins were sent a questionnaire about health and disease. Of these, 75% returned the questionnaire and 97% answered the question "Have you been diagnosed as having Scheuermann's disease by a doctor?"
Responders included 11,436 complete pairs of twins. Data were analysed using classical twin modeling methods. Tetrachoric correlations were used to decide which etiological model to fit. The best-fitting model was the AE model. Heritability was 0.74 (95% CI: 0.65-0.81), while variance explained by environmental factors was 0.26 (95% CI: 0.19-0.35). A threshold of 2.1 (95% CI: 1.9-2.2) was calculated, corresponding to a prevalence of 1.9% (95% CI: 1.3-2.8) for women. Regression coefficients for age and sex were 0.000 (95% CI: -0.003 to 0.002) and -0.32 (95% CI: -0.42 to -0.23).
We found a heritability of 0.74 in Scheuermann's disease. The threshold in men was lower than in women, corresponding to a male prevalence that was almost twice that of females. We found no change in the prevalence of Scheuermann's disease throughout the 50-year age span that we examined.
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This paper documents an exceptional research partnership developed between the Vuntut Gwitchin Government (VGG) in Old Crow, Yukon, with a group of scientists to examine northern food security and health as part of a larger, multidisciplinary International Polar Year (IPY) research program. We focus on the elements that enabled a successful community-researcher relationship. Study design. The VGG led the development of the research and acted as Principal Investigator on the IPY grant. The multidisciplinary collaboration spanned the physical, biological and health sciences, including issues related to food security.
The food security and health component of this research was carried out using a series of complementary methods, including focus groups, structured interviews, a household questionnaire, an interactive workshop, community meetings, transcript analysis and a caribou flesh exposure assessment.
Results from the food security component are informing local and regional adaptation planning. The legacy of the research collaboration includes a number of results-based outputs for a range of stakeholders, a community-based environmental monitoring program, long-term research relationships and improved community capacity.
The type of collaboration described here provides a useful model for new types of participatory health research with northern communities.
The impact of tobacco legislation and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in bars and restaurants were assessed in a national survey.
Questionnaire surveys among restaurant workers were conducted in 2007 before the smoking ban, and in 2009.
The exposure to ETS decreased significantly after the launch of the 2007 smoke-free law. During 2007-2009, the prevalence of those restaurant workers with no exposure increased from 54% to 82% (P-value
Pesticide use on urban lawns and gardens contributes to environmental contamination and human exposure. Municipal policies to restrict use and educate households on viable alternatives deserve study. We describe the development and implementation of a cosmetic/non-essential pesticide bylaw by a municipal health department in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and assess changes in resident practices associated with bylaw implementation.
Implementation indicators built on a logic model and were elaborated through key informant interviews. Bylaw impacts on awareness and practice changes were documented through telephone surveys administered seasonally pre, during and post implementation (2003-2008). Multivariable logistic regression models assessed associations of demographic variables and gardening season with respondent awareness and practices.
Implementation indicators documented multiple municipal health department activities and public involvement in complaints from commencement of the educational phase. During the enforcement phases only 40 warning letters and 7 convictions were needed. The number of lawn care companies increased. Among survey respondents, awareness of the bylaw and the Natural Lawn campaign reached 69% and 76% respectively by 2008. Substantial decreases in the proportion of households applying pesticides (25 to 11%) or hiring lawn care companies for application (15 to 5%) occurred. Parallel absolute increases in use of natural lawn care methods occurred among households themselves (21%) and companies they contracted (7%).
Bylaws or ordinances implemented through education and enforcement are a viable policy option for reducing urban cosmetic pesticide use.
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Prolonged computer work with an extended neck is commonly believed to be associated with an increased risk of neck-shoulder disorders. The aim of this study was to compare neck postures during computer work between female cases with neck-shoulder disorders, and healthy referents. Based on physical examinations, 13 cases and 11 referents were selected among 70 female air traffic controllers with the same computer-based work tasks and identical workstations. Postures and movements were measured by inclinometers, placed on the forehead and upper back (C7/Th1) during authentic air traffic control. A recently developed method was applied to assess flexion/extension in the neck, calculated as the difference between head and upper back flexion/extension. Results: cases and referents did not differ significantly in neck posture (median neck flexion/extension: -10 degrees vs. -9 degrees ; p=0.9). Hence, the belief that neck extension posture is associated with neck-shoulder disorders in computer work is not supported by the present data.
BACKGROUND: Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce the incidence of preterm birth. We wanted to investigate whether a Mediterranean-type diet (MD) could be associated with a lower risk of preterm birth in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa). METHODS: The data collection was conducted as part of MoBa at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. In MoBa, women answer a Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) at week 18-22 of pregnancy. The MD criteria were intake of fish > or =2 times a week, fruit and vegetables > or =5 times a day, use of olive/canola oil, red meat intake
Solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is known to be the most important etiological factor in skin cancer development. The main objective of this thesis was to achieve an objective, basic knowledge of the individual UVR exposure dose pattern and to reveal the factors and with which power they influence on the UVR dose among the Danes. Eight open prospective, observational studies and one study analyzing the compliance and reliability of data were performed in healthy Danish volunteers with an age range of 4-68 years. The subjects were chosen to cover an age span group of children, adolescents, and indoor workers and in addition, groups with expected high UVR exposure, sun worshippers, golfers, and gardeners. We developed a personal, electronic UVR dosimeter in a wristwatch (SunSaver). The subjects wore the UVR dosimeter that measured time-stamped UVR doses in standard erythema doses (SED) and completed diaries with data on their sun exposure behaviour. This resulted in corresponding UVR dosimeter and diary data from 346 sun-years where one sun-year is one person participating in one summer half-year (median 119 days). The annual UVR doses were calculated based on the personal and ambient measured UVR doses. We found a huge variation in annual UVR exposure dose within the total population sample, median 173 SED (range, 17-980 SED). The inter-group variation in annual UVR dose was from median 132 SED among indoor workers to median 224 SED among gardeners. No significant correlation was found between annual UVR dose and age either within the total population or among the adults. But the subjects below 20 years of age had an increase in annual UVR dose of 5 SED per year. Young people before the age of 20 years did not get a higher proportion of the lifetime UVR dose than expected (25%) when assuming a life expectancy of 80 years. There was no significant difference in annual UVR dose between males and females in the total population sample. But, among children, girls received a significantly higher UVR dose than boys due to more days with risk behaviour (sunbathing or exposing shoulders outdoors). This exposure pattern, with females having more risk behaviour than males, was also found among adolescents and adults. Sunbathing or exposing shoulders (risk behaviour) outside the beach resulted in a median of 2.5 SED per day in northern Europe and 3.2 SED per day in southern Europe, while the corresponding values were 4.6 SED and 6.9 SED per day at the beach. UVR doses above 10 SED per day were connected with risk behaviour. The subjects had a median of 13 days with risk behaviour (range, 0-93 days). The subjects used sunscreen on a median of five days (range, 0-130 days), but have a median of seven days with risk behaviour without sunscreen applied (range, 0-47 days). They had a median of one sunburn per sun-year (range 0-10). Fifty percent of the UVR dose was received between 12.00 and 15.00. Only the gardeners received the main part of their UVR dose on workdays. Conclusions : - High UVR doses are connected with risk behaviour. Reduction of cumulative lifetime UVR dose could be obtained by minimizing risk behaviour. - Sunburns were highly correlated to risk behaviour. - Use of sunscreen correlated with days "sunbathing with the intention to tan", indicating that sunscreens were used to avoid sunburn during risk behaviour. - Scheduling lunch breaks and other breaks indoors at noon, where ambient UVR peaks, could reduce the occupational UVR exposure significantly. - In the winter-half-year in Denmark. the UVR dose received from solar exposure is negligible and no UVR precautions are needed. This study documented that high subject compliance rate and data reliability could be obtained in long-time UVR dosimeter study as ours by being service minded but persistent, offering dosimeter maintenance service within 24 hours and scrutinizing data for errors and mistakes just after data collection.
The hospital sound environment is complex. Alarms, medical equipment, activities, and ventilation generate noise that may present occupational problems as well as hinder recovery among patients. In this study, sound measurements and occupant evaluations were conducted in a neurological intensive care unit. Staff completed questionnaires regarding psychological and physiological reactions to the sound environment. A-weighted equivalent, minimum, and maximum (L(Aeq),L(AFMin),L(AFMax)) and C-weighted peak (L(CPeak)) sound pressure levels were measured over five days at patient and staff locations. Acoustical descriptors that may be explored further were investigated, including level distributions, restorative periods, and spectral content. Measurements near the patients showed average L(Aeq) values of 53-58 dB. The mean length of restorative periods (L(Aeq) below 50 dB for more than 5 min) was 9 and 13 min for day and night, respectively. Ninety percent of the time, the L(AFMax) levels exceeded 50 dB and L(CPeak) exceeded 70 dB. Dosimeters worn by the staff revealed higher noise levels. Personnel perceived the noise as contributing to stress symptoms. Compared to the majority of previous studies, this study provides a more thorough description of intensive care noise and aids in understanding how the sound environment may be disruptive to occupants.
OBJECTIVES: The Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) aims to provide new insights in a broad variety of diseases. The goal of the study is to understand pathways in disease development, and identify preventive measures. Several designs are suitable for studying genetics in complex diseases like asthma and allergy, in MoBa. METHODS: MoBa is a prospective population based cohort of 100 000 pregnancies, following offspring into adulthood. Enrollment started in 1999, and will be completed in 2008. A biobank with samples from the mother, father and child, together with detailed questionnaires from early pregnancy and childhood constitute the basis of the study. When studying complex diseases like asthma, a design with case-parent triads is useful. Parental effects and interactions between maternal and fetal genes can be detected. Stratifying triads by environmental exposure enables assessment of gene-environment interactions. RESULTS: By July 2006, more than 73,000 pregnancies have been included, with nearly 7,000 siblings and 1,300 pairs of twins enrolled. Biological samples are processed and stored at the biobank. The first children are reaching age seven in 2006. CONCLUSION: The MoBa cohort provides an excellent basis for studying genetic, epigenetic and environmental influences on complex diseases.