BACKGROUND: The high and increasing prevalence of childhood asthma is a major public health issue. Various risk factors have been proposed in local studies with different designs. METHODS: We have made a questionnaire study of the prevalence of childhood asthma, potential risk factors and their relations in four regions in Scandinavia (Umeå and Malmö in Sweden, Kuopio in eastern Finland and Oslo, Norway). One urban and one less urbanized area were selected in each region, and a study group of 15962 children aged 6-12 years was recruited. RESULTS: The prevalence of symptoms suggestive of asthma varied considerably between different areas (dry cough 8-19%, asthma attacks 4-8%, physician-diagnosed asthma 4-9%), as did the potential risk factors. Urban residency was generally not a risk factor. However, dry cough was common in the most traffic polluted area. Exposure to some of the risk factors. such as smoking indoors and moisture stains or moulds at home during the first 2 years of life, resulted in an increased risk. However, current exposure was associated with odds ratios less than one. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings were probably due to a combination of early impact and later avoidance of these risk factors. The effects of some risk factors were found to differ significantly between regions. No overall pattern between air pollution and asthma was seen, but air pollution differed less than expected between the areas.
Individual-level data from the Canadian Community Health Survey was combined with area-level data from the 2001 Canada Census to explore the relationship between neighbourhood deprivation and regional inequalities in self-reported health (n=120,290). While neighbourhood deprivation was a significant predictor of fair/poor health in all geographic regions (OR=1.11; 95% CI: 1.08, 1.14), living on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts exacerbated the detrimental effects of neighbourhood deprivation on the perceived health of respondents (OR=1.21; 1.28). By failing to explore regional variations in risk, we could fail to identify areas where provincial policies may interact with neighbourhood factors to reinforce health inequalities amongst deprived communities.
BACKGROUND: Our knowledge of the influence of place of birth and socioeconomic status on attempted suicide in a defined national population is limited. METHODS: The study population at baseline in 1993 included approximately 4.5 million Swedish persons aged 25 to 64 years, of whom 570 000 had been born abroad. Each individual was tracked until attempted suicide, remigration, death, or the end of the study on December 31, 1998. The Cox regression was used in the analysis. RESULTS: Labor migrants from Finland and other OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries and refugees from Poland and Iran had higher hazard ratios of attempted suicide than Swedish-born control subjects. Women born in Latin America, Asia, and Eastern Europe had significantly higher hazard ratios of attempted suicide than Swedish-born women. In contrast, men born in southern Europe and Asia had significantly lower hazard ratios of attempted suicide. The hazard ratios of attempted suicide among women from Iran, Asia, southern Europe, Latin America, and eastern Europe considerably exceeded those of men from the same country of origin. When socioeconomic status was included in the final model, the hazard ratios remained high for women, while the risk of attempted suicide among men declined sharply with increased income. CONCLUSIONS: Place of birth, socioeconomic status, and sex are associated with attempted suicide. Socioeconomic status explains only part of the association between place of birth and attempted suicide.
Centre for Indigenous Peoples' Nutrition and Environment (CINE) and the School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, McGill University, 21, 111 Lakeshore Rd., Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Montréal, Que., Canada H9X 3V9.
Mercury (Hg) is a widespread neurotoxic compound that bio-accumulates in fish and marine mammals. Monoamine oxidase (MAO; EC 18.104.22.168) regulates biogenic amine concentration in the brain and peripheral tissue and has been shown to be a molecular target of Hg compounds in animal models. Blood platelet monoamine oxidase-B (MAO-B) activity may reflect MAO function in the central nervous tissue. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate the relationship between platelet MAO-B and Hg exposure in fish-eating adults (n=127) living along the St. Lawrence River (Lake St. Pierre, Que., Canada). Hg concentrations were determined in blood and hair samples. A significant negative association was observed between platelet MAO-B activity and blood-Hg (r=-0.193, p=0.029) but not with hair-Hg levels (r=-0.125, p=0.169). Multiple linear regression analysis demonstrated that blood-Hg (beta=-4.6, p=0.011) and heavy smoking (beta=-8.5, p=0.001) were associated with reduced platelet MAO activity in the total population. In addition, this reduction in MAO-B activity appeared to be associated with blood-Hg concentrations above 3.4 microg/L (75th percentile). Possible gender related differences were also observed and are discussed. Our results suggest that MAO-B activity in blood platelets may be a useful tool to assess biochemical effects of Hg exposure in human populations. These changes in platelet MAO-B may reflect enzymatic changes in nervous tissue and should be further investigated as a surrogate marker of neurotoxicity.
This research examines the relationship between community unemployment and the physical and mental health of immigrants in comparison to non-immigrants in Montreal under the hypothesis that high unemployment in the community may generate more negative effects on the health of immigrants than on non-immigrants. Possible gender differences in these associations are also examined. Montreal residents were studied via multilevel analysis, using both individual survey data and neighbourhood data from 49 police districts. Individual-level data were excerpted from a 1998 health survey of Montreal residents, while neighbourhood data originated from survey data collected in the 49 Montreal police districts and the 1996 Canadian Census. The associations between community unemployment and self-rated health, psychological distress and obesity are examined, and hypotheses regarding the modifying mechanisms via which male and female immigrants may run a greater risk of poor health than non-immigrants when living in areas of high unemployment were tested. Between neighbourhoods, variations in the three health outcomes were slight, and differences in health were not associated with differences in community unemployment. The associations between community unemployment and health varied according to immigration status. At the individual level, immigrants do not differ from non-immigrants with respect to the three health indicators, except that second-generation males are slightly heavier. However, when living in areas of high unemployment, immigrants tend to report poor physical and mental health in comparison to non-immigrants. Among first-generation immigrants, community unemployment was associated with psychological distress. Among second-generation immigrants, the probability of obesity and poor self-rated health increased significantly for those living in areas with high unemployment, but these associations reached statistical significance only for men. Findings among first-generation immigrants are interpreted with respect to the effects of possible discrimination in areas with low job availability. Among second-generation men, poor physical health and obesity may be the result of poor health habits stemming from perceived lack of life opportunities.
The effect of socioeconomic status on out-of-hospital care has not been widely examined. We determine whether socioeconomic status was associated with out-of-hospital transport delays for patients with chest pain.
A retrospective study of patients with chest pain transported by means of ambulance in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 1999 was conducted. The primary outcome measure was the 90th percentile system response interval, with secondary outcomes being the 90th percentile on-scene interval, transport interval, and total out-of-hospital interval. Socioeconomic status was the primary independent variable. Covariates were age, sex, case severity, dispatch and return priority, time and day of transport, paramedic training, and percentage of high-rise apartments in the region.
Four thousand three hundred fifty-six patients met the inclusion criteria. The 90th percentile system response interval and total out-of-hospital interval were 11 minutes and 49 minutes, respectively. In multivariate analyses, the highest socioeconomic status neighborhoods were significantly associated with decreased system response interval (34.0 seconds; 95% confidence interval [CI] 6.2 to 70.9 seconds) and transport interval (132.3 seconds; 95% CI 24.1 to 229.6 seconds). In addition, age (+45.3 seconds per 10 years; 95% CI 13.3 to 75.1 seconds), female sex (+205.0 seconds; 95% CI 78.1 to 287.7 seconds), and advanced care paramedic crews (+371.6 seconds; 95% CI 263.3 to 490.1 seconds) were associated with delays in total out-of-hospital interval. Lastly, calls originating from the highest socioeconomic status neighborhoods were dispatched the highest proportion of advanced care paramedic crews, despite similar dispatch priorities and case severities.
High socioeconomic status neighborhoods were associated with shorter out-of-hospital transport intervals for patients with chest pain. In addition, out-of-hospital delays were associated with age, sex, and advanced care paramedic crew type, with calls from the highest socioeconomic status neighborhoods being most likely to receive advanced care paramedic crews.
Comment In: Ann Emerg Med. 2003 Apr;41(4):491-312658248
The aims of this study were to investigate the association between the neighbourhood environment and physical activity among young children in a Scandinavian setting, and to assess the influences of seasonal variations, age, sex and parental education.
Physical activity was assessed with an accelerometer and neighbourhood resources were estimated using geographic information systems for 205 Swedish children aged 4-11 years. Neighbourhood resources were generated as the sum of three neighbourhood attributes: (a) foot and bike paths, (b) non-restricted destinations and (c) recreational area, all within 300 m of each child's home. Physical activity was assessed as: (a) total volume of physical activity (i.e. counts per minute), (b) sedentary time and (c) moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). The association between neighbourhood resources and physical activity was analysed using mixed linear models weighted by measurement time and adjusted for sex, age, season of activity measurement, type of housing and parental education.
Children were more physically active in areas with intermediate access to neighbourhood resources for physical activity compared to areas with worst access, while the difference between intermediate and best neighbourhood resource areas was less clear. The association between physical activity and neighbourhood resources was weaker than with seasonal variations but compatible in magnitude with sex, age, type of housing and parental education. Among specific neighbourhood attributes, the amount of foot and bike paths was associated with less sedentary time and more MVPA.
This study provides some, not entirely consistent, evidence overall for an association between the neighbourhood environment and physical activity among young children in Scandinavia.
Chronic kidney disease has been associated with socioeconomic disparities and neighbourhood deprivation. We aimed to determine whether there is an association between neighbourhood deprivation and end stage renal disease (ESRD), and whether this association is independent of individual-level sociodemographic factors and comorbidities.
National Swedish data registers were used. The entire Swedish population aged 20-69 years was followed from January 1, 2001 until December 31, 2010. Data were analysed by multilevel logistic regression, with individual-level sociodemographic factors (age, marital status, family income, education level, country of birth, urban/rural status, and mobility) and comorbidities at the first level and neighbourhood deprivation at the second level.
Neighbourhood deprivation was significantly associated with ESRD (age-adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.45, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.34-1.56 in men and OR 1.59, 95% CI 1.44-1.75 in women). The ORs for ESRD in men and women living in the most deprived neighbourhoods remained significantly increased when adjusted for age and individual-level sociodemographic factors (OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.15-1.35 in men and OR 1.30, 95% CI 1.17-1.44 in women). In the full model, which took account of sociodemographic factors and comorbidities, the ORs for ESRD remained significantly increased (OR 1.17, 95% CI 1.07-1.27 in men and OR 1.18, 95% CI 1.06-1.31 in women).
Neighbourhood deprivation is independently associated with ESRD in both men and women irrespective of individual-level sociodemographic factors and comorbidities.
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Alcohol misuse in seniors has been studied in clinical samples and in small communities, but relatively few studies are population-based. Objectives are: (1) to describe the characteristics of seniors who score 1 or more on the CAGE (Cut down; Annoyed; Guilty; Eye-opener) questionnaire of alcohol problems; (2) to determine if depressive symptoms are associated with alcohol misuse after accounting for other factors.
Cross-sectional study of community-dwelling older people (65+ years) sampled from a representative population registry in Manitoba, Canada. Participants were initially interviewed in 1991-1992 and reinterviewed in 1996-1997. Data from Time 2 were used; 1,028 persons were included in the analyses. Sociodemographic characteristics, the CAGE questionnaire, Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and instrumental ADLs (IADLs), the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression (CES-D) scale and the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) were assessed by trained interviewers.
Males were more likely to score positive on the CAGE questionnaire. After adjusting for gender, age, and education, there was a strong association between depressive symptoms and alcohol misuse. Poor self-rated health and impairments in IADLs were also associated with alcohol misuse.
Male gender, depressive symptoms, and poor functional status were associated with alcohol misuse in this population-based study. Attention to depressive symptoms and functional status may be important in the care of seniors with alcohol misuse. Alternatively, physicians should enquire about alcohol use in seniors with functional impairment or depressive symptoms.
Prior to 1940 the population of Sweden was one of the most homogeneous in Europe, with only 0.5% foreign born. Fifty years later, in 1990, the proportion of immigrants was around 15%. In order to describe and analyze consumption of dental care in different refugee groups in Sweden, data registered by the Department of Immigration and the National Social Insurance Board, on a random sample of 2489 refugees arriving in Sweden 1975-85, were merged. Information on nationality, date of arrival in Sweden, date of granting of permanent resident status and statistics on consumption of dental care were retrieved. During the period studied a total of 50,521 refugees arrived in Sweden. The average interval between arrival in Sweden and the first dental visit was 4.5 yr (95%