Advances in medical technology now permit children who need ventilator assistance to live at home rather than in hospitals or institutions. What does this ventilator-dependent life mean to children and their families? The impetus for this essay comes from a study of the moral experience of 12 Canadian families--parents, ventilator-dependent child, and well siblings. These families express great love for their children, take on enormous responsibilities for care, live with uncertainty, and attempt to create "normal" home environments. Nevertheless, they experience social isolation, sometimes even from their extended families and health care providers. Their lives are constrained in many ways. The challenges faced by parents of technology-dependent children raise questions of justice within society and within families.
Studies from several countries have reported that children youngest in grade are at higher risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis and treatment. Norwegian children start school the year they turn six, making children born in December youngest in their grade. We used data on medication, specialist healthcare diagnoses, and primary healthcare diagnoses from national registers to investigate associations between birth month and ADHD.
All children born in Norway between 1998 and 2006 ( N=509,827) were followed from age six until 31 December 2014. We estimated hazard ratios for ADHD medication and diagnoses by birth month in Cox proportional-hazards models. We compared risk among siblings to control for potentially confounding socioeconomic factors, and assessed risk of receiving ADHD medication by birth month while attending different grades in cross-sectional time-series analyses.
At end of follow-up, 5.3% of boys born in October-December had received ADHD medication, compared with 3.7% of boys born in January-March. Corresponding numbers for girls were 2.2% and 1.3%, respectively. The adjusted hazard ratio for ADHD medication for children born in October-December (reference: January-March) was 1.4 (95% confidence interval: 1.4-1.5) for boys and 1.8 (1.7-2.0) for girls. Analyses with diagnoses as outcome showed consistent results, and analyses restricted to siblings within the study population also supported the findings. Analysis by grade revealed an increased risk for children born late in the year from grade 3 onwards, with most marked differences in higher grades.
Children youngest in grade had the highest risk of receiving ADHD treatment. Differences were most marked among older children.
Whereas a large literature has shown the importance of early life health for adult socioeconomic outcomes, there is little evidence on the importance of adolescent health. We contribute to the literature by studying the impact of adolescent health status on adult labor market outcomes using a unique and large-scale dataset covering almost the entire population of Swedish males. We show that most types of major conditions have long-run effects on future outcomes, and that the strongest effects result from mental conditions. Including sibling fixed effects or twin pair fixed effects reduces the magnitudes of the estimates, but they remain substantial.
The adolescent marijuana literature is reviewed. Studies show that the prevalence of marijuana use is generally quite low in elementary schools. In junior and senior high samples, findings vary greatly from place to place. The prevalence of use increased dramatically during the 1970s although the use patterns may have peaked already in some areas. The use of marijuana increases with age, but some evidence suggests that a slight drop-off in use occurs near the end of high school. Female use seems to be increasing more than male use. Use seems to be somewhat more prevalent in middle- and upper-middle-class homes and in broken homes. Mixed support has been found for the hypothesis that marijuana users have parents that are more permissive. Parents of marijuana users are generally characterized as being less warm and supportive, and more inclined toward the use of drugs themselves. Peer and sibling use of marijuana seem to be particularly important predictors of adolescent marijuana use. Findings on personality characteristics of marijuana users are not extensive and are somewhat contradictory. There is some evidence that users tend to be somewhat alienated, external in their locus of control, and possibly higher on anxiety. Users are also characterized by a higher value on independence vs achievement and more positive attitudes toward marijuana use. Behavioral correlates of marijuana use include greater use of alcohol and other drugs, and poorer school performance.
In the present study, we evaluated whether childhood differences in body height between singletons and twins persist into adulthood. Data from the Medical Birth Register of Norway were linked with data from the Norwegian National Conscript Service. This study used data on the 457,999 males who were born alive and without physical anomalies in single or twin births in Norway during 1967-1984 and who were examined at the mandatory military conscription (age 18-20 years; 1985-2003). For sibling comparisons, the authors selected the 1,721 sibships of full brothers that included at least 1 male born in a single birth and at least 1 male born in a twin birth (4,520 persons, including 2,493 twins and 2,027 singletons). An analysis of the total study population using generalized estimating equations showed that the twins were 0.6 cm (95% confidence interval: 0.4, 0.7) shorter than were the singletons after adjustment for a series of background factors. The fixed-effects regression analysis of the sibships that included both twins and singletons showed that the twins were 0.9 cm (95% confidence interval: 0.6, 1.2) shorter than were their singleton brothers. The study suggests that male twins born in Norway during 1967-1984 were slightly shorter in early adulthood than were singletons.
Advanced maternal age at birth is considered a major risk factor for birth outcomes. It is unclear to what extent this association is confounded by maternal characteristics. To test whether advanced maternal age at birth independently increases the risk of low birth weight (
Sibling supervision has been shown to increase the risk of supervisee's unintentional injury in the home. Both poorer supervision by the older sibling and noncompliance by the younger sibling have been shown to contribute to this risk. Previous studies have shown that informing older siblings that they are responsible for the behavior of their younger sibling improves their supervision. The present study, conducted in Canada, examined whether informing both children the older child is in charge would improve both older sibling supervisory practices and compliance by the younger child. Younger and older siblings were initially placed in a room containing contrived hazards, and their interactions were unobtrusively recorded. In a second contrived hazards room, both children were then informed that the older sibling was in charge, and the supervisor was privately told not to let the supervisee touch hazardous objects. Results revealed that sibling supervisors showed improved supervision but supervisee behavior did not vary across conditions. Implications for injury prevention and future research directions are discussed.
Children born to older fathers are at higher risk to develop severe psychopathology (e.g., schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), possibly because of increased de novo mutations during spermatogenesis with older paternal age. Because severe psychopathology is correlated with antisocial behavior, we examined possible associations between advancing paternal age and offspring violent offending. Interlinked Swedish national registers provided information on fathers' age at childbirth and violent criminal convictions in all offspring born from 1958 to 1979 (N = 2,359,921). We used ever committing a violent crime and number of violent crimes as indices of violent offending. The data included information on multiple levels; we compared differentially exposed siblings in within-family analyses to rigorously test causal influences. In the entire population, advancing paternal age predicted offspring violent crime according to both indices. Congruent with a causal effect, this association remained for rates of violent crime in within-family analyses. However, in within-family analyses, we found no association with ever committing a violent crime, suggesting that factors shared by siblings (genes and environment) confounded this association. Life-course persistent criminality has been proposed to have a partly biological etiology; our results agree with a stronger biological effect (i.e., de novo mutations) on persistent violent offending.
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Advanced paternal age has been suggested as a risk factor for autism, but empirical evidence is mixed. This study examines whether the association between paternal age and autism in the offspring (1) persists controlling for documented autism risk factors, including family psychiatric history, perinatal conditions, infant characteristics and demographic variables; (2) may be explained by familial traits associated with the autism phenotype, or confounding by parity; and (3) is consistent across epidemiological studies. Multiple study methods were adopted. First, a Swedish 10-year birth cohort (N=1?075?588) was established. Linkage to the National Patient Register ascertained all autism cases (N=883). Second, 660 families identified within the birth cohort had siblings discordant for autism. Finally, meta-analysis included population-based epidemiological studies. In the birth cohort, autism risk increased monotonically with increasing paternal age. Offspring of men aged =50 years were 2.2 times (95% confidence interval: 1.26-3.88: P=0.006) more likely to have autism than offspring of men aged =29 years, after controlling for maternal age and documented risk factors for autism. Within-family analysis of discordant siblings showed that affected siblings had older paternal age, adjusting for maternal age and parity (P
Cervical cancer is a multifactorial disease and infection by oncogenic human papilloma viruses represents the main environmental risk factor. Only a subset of infections becomes persistent and develops into cancer, implying that genetic susceptibility factors are needed for malignant progression. Here, we use a population-based cohort of affected sib-pairs (ASPs) to examine the role of the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I and class II loci in cervical cancer susceptibility. Analysis of 278 ASPs revealed significant excess genetic sharing for all three HLA class II loci studied, DPB1, DQB1 and DRB1, with the strongest evidence for DQB1 and DRB1. No evidence of excess sharing was observed for the HLA class I HLA-B and HLA-A loci. When the material was stratified on the basis of the DQB1*0602/DRB1*1501 susceptibility haplotype, carriers showed significant sharing for all loci, whereas non-carriers showed no evidence of excess genetic sharing at any of the loci. However, for the DPB1 locus there was no difference in allele frequency between carriers and non-carriers indicating that the effect seen in DPB1 is not simply due to linkage disequilibrium. Our results show that the HLA class II represents a major genetic susceptibility locus to cervical cancer in contrary to the class I that do not appear to have a significant impact on predisposition to the disease. The strongest class II effects are coming from the DQB1 and DRB1 loci, but the DPB1 locus also contributes to the susceptibility to cervical cancer.