To examine whether the introduction of advanced diagnostic technology in maternity care has led to less variation in type of delivery between hospitals in Norway.
The Medical Birth Registry of Norway provided detailed medical information for 1.7 million deliveries from 1967 to 2005. Information about diagnostic technology was collected directly from the maternity units.
The data were analyzed using a two-level binary logistic model with Caesarean section as the outcome measure. Level one contained variables that characterized the health status of the mother and child. Hospitals are level two. A heterogeneous variance structure was specified for the hospital level, where the error variance was allowed to vary according to the following types of diagnostic technology: two-dimensional ultrasound, cardiotocography, ST waveform analysis, and fetal blood analyses.
There was a marked variation in Caesarean section rates between hospitals up to 1973. After this the variation diminished markedly. This was due to the introduction of ultrasound and cardiotocography.
Diagnostic technology reduced clinical uncertainty about the diagnosis of risk factors of the mother and child during delivery, and variation in type of delivery between hospitals was reduced accordingly. The results support the practice style hypothesis.
The prospective cohort study design is ideal for examining diseases of public health importance, as its inherent temporal nature renders it advantageous for studying early life influences on health outcomes and research questions of aetiological significance. This paper will describe the development and characteristics of the All Our Babies (AOB) study, a prospective pregnancy cohort in Calgary, Alberta, Canada designed to examine determinants of maternal, infant, and child outcomes and identify barriers and facilitators in health care utilization.
Women were recruited from health care offices, communities, and through Calgary Laboratory Services before 25 weeks gestation from May 2008 to December 2010. Participants completed two questionnaires during pregnancy, a third at 4 months postpartum, and are currently being followed-up with questionnaires at 12, 24, and 36 months. Data was collected on pregnancy history, demographics, lifestyle, health care utilization, physical and mental health, parenting, and child developmental outcomes and milestones. In addition, biological/serological and genetic markers can be extracted from collected maternal and cord blood samples.
A total of 4011 pregnant women were eligible for recruitment into the AOB study. Of this, 3388 women completed at least one survey. The majority of participants were less than 35 years of age, Caucasian, Canadian born, married or in a common-law relationship, well-educated, and reported household incomes above the Calgary median. Women who discontinued after the first survey (n=123) were typically younger, non-Caucasian, foreign-born, had lower education and household income levels, were less likely to be married or in a common-law relationship, and had poor psychosocial health in early pregnancy. In general, AOB participants reflect the pregnant and parenting population at local and provincial levels, and perinatal indicators from the study are comparable to perinatal surveillance data.
The extensive and rich data collected in the AOB cohort provides the opportunity to answer complex questions about the relationships between biology, early experiences, and developmental outcomes. This cohort will contribute to the understanding of the biologic mechanisms and social/environmental pathways underlying associations between early and later life outcomes, gene-environment interactions, and developmental trajectories among children.
The knowledge about fetal exposure to acrylamide/glycidamide from the maternal exposure through food is limited. Acrylamide, glycidamide, and ethylene oxide are electrophiles and form adducts with hemoglobin (Hb), which could be used for in vivo dose measurement. In this study, a method for analysis of Hb adducts by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, the adduct FIRE procedure, was applied to measurements of adducts from these compounds in maternal blood samples (n = 87) and umbilical cord blood samples (n = 219). The adduct levels from the three compounds, acrylamide, glycidamide, and ethylene oxide, were increased in tobacco smokers. Highly significant correlations were found between cord and maternal blood with regard to measured adduct levels of the three compounds. The mean cord/maternal hemoglobin adduct level ratios were 0.48 (range 0.27-0.86) for acrylamide, 0.38 (range 0.20-0.73) for glycidamide, and 0.43 (range 0.17-1.34) for ethylene oxide. In vitro studies with acrylamide and glycidamide showed a lower (0.38-0.48) rate of adduct formation with Hb in cord blood than with Hb in maternal blood, which is compatible with the structural differences in fetal and adult Hb. Together, these results indicate a similar life span of fetal and maternal erythrocytes. The results showed that the in vivo dose in fetal and maternal blood is about the same and that the placenta gives negligible protection of the fetus to exposure from the investigated compounds. A trend of higher levels of the measured adducts in cord blood with gestational age was observed, which may reflect the gestational age-related change of the cord blood Hb composition toward a higher content of adult Hb. The results suggest that the Hb adduct levels measured in cord blood reflect the exposure to the fetus during the third trimester. The evaluation of the new analytical method showed that it is suitable for monitoring of background exposures of the investigated electrophilic compounds in large population studies.
The aim of this study was to investigate the regulation of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) blood concentrations in mother and fetus during pregnancy. Serum concentrations of AMH, gonadotrophins, oestradiol and progesterone were measured in pregnant women in the first trimester and AMH concentrations in second-trimester fetuses, and these were compared in relation to the sex of the fetus. A total of 153 women undergoing elective termination of a first-trimester pregnancy and seven second-trimester pregnant women undergoing cordocentesis were included. Concentrations of AMH in the serum of first-trimester pregnant women were similar to non-pregnant women and were unrelated to the very high concentrations of human chorionic gonadotrophin and the undetectable concentrations of FSH and LH. Serum concentrations of oestradiol and progesterone were unrelated to the concentrations of AMH and the sex of the fetus. Serum concentrations of AMH of four, second trimester, male fetuses ranged from 64 to 92 ng/ml, whereas it was undetectable in female fetuses. It appears that AMH serum concentrations in first-trimester pregnant women seem to be independent of gonadotrophin concentrations and fetal sex. The concentration of AMH in the circulation of male fetuses is higher than previously reported and is a highly sensitive marker for fetal sex.
Apolipoprotein E (apoE) phenotype is a genetic determinant of plasma total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol concentrations, that are classical coronary heart disease risk factors. ApoE appears in three major isoforms E2, E3, and E4, coded by corresponding alleles epsilon 2, epsilon 3, and epsilon 4. These give rise to six different phenotypes.
To study the associations of apoE phenotype with cord serum lipids (during minimal enteral nutrition), and with serum lipids of 3-year-old children.
We determined serum lipid levels and apoE phenotypes in 206 newborns and 259 3-year-old children in connection with a larger follow-up study of atherosclerosis precursors in children and young adults. ApoE phenotyping was done directly from plasma by isoelectric focusing followed by immunoblotting.
The effect of apoE phenotype on serum total and LDL cholesterol was significantly different in newborns and 3-year-old children (two-way ANOVA, interaction between apoE phenotype and age group: P .05) either in males or in females. The mean serum levels of triglycerides and high density lipoprotein cholesterol did not differ between apoE phenotypes either in 3-year-old children or newborns.
The results show that the differences in serum total and LDL cholesterol levels between apoE phenotypes are formed after birth by the influence of environmental factors and suggest that both genetic and external factors influence the levels of serum cholesterol concentrations during the first years of life.
World Health Organization (WHO), in cooperation with the Consortium to Perform Human Biomonitoring on a European Scale (COPHES), has developed a standardized methodology for human biomonitoring (HBM) surveys in maternities in order to assess prenatal exposure to mercury. To test this standard methodology and adapt it to Russian settings, a cross-sectional HBM survey involving 120 parturient women was conducted in six maternities of the Moscow Region. Levels of total mercury in maternal hair (geometric mean: 0.21 µg/g, 95th percentile: 0.54 µg/g), cord blood (0.89 µg/L and 2.38 µg/L, respectively) and maternal urine (0.27 µg/L and 0.94 µg/L) in this population were similar to those in other European countries with relatively low fish consumption. Consumption of all types of fish at least once per week during the third trimester of pregnancy compared to fish consumption less than once per month was associated with the increase of geometric mean level of total mercury: in hair by 31% (95% confidence interval: 4%, 66%) higher, in cord blood--by 38% (9%, 74%) and in maternal urine--by 36% (2%, 81%). No biomarker values exceeded levels recommended by WHO or national agencies in the USA and Germany. However; at the population level, adverse effects of prenatal exposures to mercury can still be substantial.
BACKGROUND: Seafood is an important source of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPs), which are essential for normal growth and development. However, the nutritional benefits could be limited by polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination. In particular, inhibition of desaturase activities by PCBs may affect the maintenance of arachidonic acid (AA) status during development. OBJECTIVE: The aim was to evaluate AA status in a birth cohort from a fishing community with a high seafood intake and a wide range of PCB exposures. DESIGN: We measured LCP concentrations in paired mother and umbilical cord serum samples obtained from 182 consecutive births in the Faroe Islands, where PCB-contaminated whale blubber forms part of the diet. PCB exposure was determined from maternal concentrations. RESULTS: Serum phospholipid AA concentrations averaged 9.14% and 16.5% (by wt) in maternal and cord serum, respectively. After adjustment for gestational age and concentrations of linoleic, alpha-linolenic, and eicosapentaenoic acids, a decrease in AA concentrations of 0.17% (by wt) (95% CI: 0.03%, 0.31%) and 0.31% (by wt) (95% CI: 0.10%, 0.52%) was seen in maternal and cord serum, respectively, for each doubling of PCB exposure. CONCLUSIONS: Increased PCB exposure was associated with a modest decrease in serum AA concentrations, which is in accordance with the experimental evidence of desaturase inhibition by PCBs. Such interference with LCP utilization could attenuate the beneficial effects of the essential lipids contained in seafood. Because AA is of key importance for growth and development, these results suggest that this possible mechanism for PCB toxicity deserves to be explored.
Smoking during pregnancy is common among Inuit women from the Canadian Arctic. Yet prenatal cigarette smoke exposure (PCSE) is seen as a major risk factor for childhood behavior problems. Recent data also suggest that co-exposure to neurotoxic environmental contaminants can exacerbate the effects of PCSE on behavior. This study examined the association between PCSE and behavior at school age in a sample of Inuit children from Nunavik, Qu?bec, where co-exposure to environmental contaminants is also an important issue. Interactions with lead (Pb) and mercury (Hg), two contaminants associated with behavioral problems, were also explored.
Participants were 271 children (mean age=11.3years) involved in a prospective birth-cohort study. PCSE was assessed through maternal recall. Assessment of child behavior was obtained from the child's classroom teacher on the Teacher Report Form (TRF) and the Disruptive Behavior Disorders Rating Scale (DBD). Exposure to contaminants was assessed from umbilical cord and child blood samples. Other confounders were documented by maternal interview.
After control for contaminants and confounders, PCSE was associated with increased externalizing behaviors and attention problems on the TRF and higher prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) assessed on the DBD. No interactions were found with contaminants.
This study extends the existing empirical evidence linking PCSE to behavioral problems in school-aged children by reporting these effects in a population where tobacco use is normative rather than marginal. Co-exposure to Pb and Hg do not appear to exacerbate tobacco effects, suggesting that these substances act independently.
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