PLoS Medicine

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ISSN / EISSN : 1549-1277 / 1549-1676
Published by: Public Library of Science (PLoS) (10.1371)
Total articles ≅ 4,801
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, Ulf de Faire, , , Peter Westerholm, Håkan Malmström, ,
Published: 1 December 2021
Background: Elevated apolipoprotein B (apoB) and elevated apoB/apoA-1 ratio increase the risk of myocardial infarction (MI) and stroke, whereas high apoA-1 is protective. We study how these apolipoproteins are associated with major adverse cardiovascular events (MACEs), whether apoA-1 contributes to this association, and whether abnormal values occur decades before such events develop. Methods and findings: In the Swedish AMORIS (Apolipoprotein-related MOrtality RISk) cohort study, 137,100 men and women aged 25–84 years were followed an average 17.8 years. ApoB, apoA-1, and the apoB/apoA-1 ratio were analysed in relation to MACEs (non-fatal MI, stroke, and cardiovascular [CV] mortality), yielding 22,473 events. Hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated using Cox regression. Kaplan–Meier estimates were used to investigate the relationship of MACEs with increasing quintiles of the apoB/apoA-1 ratio in all age groups for both sexes. In nested case–control analyses, cases were randomly matched to age- and sex-matched controls, yielding population trajectories for apolipoproteins. Increased level of apoB and increased apoB/apoA-1 ratio were associated with risk of MACE and all clinical sub-components in both men and women across all ages (10th versus first decile in both sexes combined: HR 1.7 for MACE and 2.7 for non-fatal MI). Decreased values of apoA-1 potentiated the impact of apoB at all levels of apoB (on average across apoB range: 40% increase in HR for MACE and 72% increase in HR for non-fatal MI), indicating that the apoB/apoA-1 ratio covers a broader range of persons with dyslipidaemia at risk than apoB alone. In both men and women, MACEs occurred earlier on average for each increasing quintile of the apoB/apoA-1 ratio. Individuals with the highest levels of apoB/apoA-1 ratio experienced CV events on average several years earlier than those with lower ratios. Higher apoB/apoA-1 ratio in cases of MACE versus controls was seen already about 20 years before the event. A limitation of this study was that adjustment for tobacco smoking and hypertension was only possible in a small validation study. Conclusions: An imbalance between apoB and apoA-1 resulting in an increased apoB/apoA-1 ratio is strongly associated with the outcome MACE and its sub-components, in both men and women of all ages. An increased apoB/apoA-1 ratio already 2 decades before events calls for early recognition and primary prevention. Simple evidence-based cut values should be considered in future cardiovascular guidelines.
, , , , , Rachel Levy, , Laetitia Hesters, Marianne Bergère, Claire Devienne, et al.
Published: 30 November 2021
Background: To the best of our knowledge, no study has exhaustively evaluated the association between maternal morbidities and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) during the first wave of the pandemic in pregnant women. We investigated, in natural conceptions and assisted reproductive technique (ART) pregnancies, whether maternal morbidities were more frequent in pregnant women with COVID-19 diagnosis compared to pregnant women without COVID-19 diagnosis during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods and findings: We conducted a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data in a national cohort of all hospitalizations for births ≥22 weeks of gestation in France from January to June 2020 using the French national hospitalization database (PMSI). Pregnant women with COVID-19 were identified if they had been recorded in the database using the ICD-10 (International Classification of Disease) code for presence of a hospitalization for COVID-19. A total of 244,645 births were included, of which 874 (0.36%) in the COVID-19 group. Maternal morbidities and adverse obstetrical outcomes among those with or without COVID-19 were analyzed with a multivariable logistic regression model adjusted on patient characteristics. Among pregnant women, older age (31.1 (±5.9) years old versus 30.5 (±5.4) years old, respectively, p < 0.001), obesity (0.7% versus 0.3%, respectively, p < 0.001), multiple pregnancy (0.7% versus 0.4%, respectively, p < 0.001), and history of hypertension (0.9% versus 0.3%, respectively, p < 0.001) were more frequent with COVID-19 diagnosis. Active smoking (0.2% versus 0.4%, respectively, p < 0.001) and primiparity (0.3% versus 0.4%, respectively, p < 0.03) were less frequent with COVID-19 diagnosis. Frequency of ART conception was not different between those with and without COVID-19 diagnosis (p = 0.28). When compared to the non-COVID-19 group, women in the COVID-19 group had a higher frequency of admission to ICU (5.9% versus 0.1%, p< 0.001), mortality (0.2% versus 0.005%, p < 0.001), preeclampsia/eclampsia (4.8% versus 2.2%, p < 0.001), gestational hypertension (2.3% versus 1.3%, p< 0.03), postpartum hemorrhage (10.0% versus 5.7%, p < 0.001), preterm birth at <37 weeks of gestation (16.7% versus 7.1%, p < 0.001), <32 weeks of gestation (2.2% versus 0.8%, p < 0.001), <28 weeks of gestation (2.4% versus 0.8%, p < 0.001), induced preterm birth (5.4% versus 1.4%, p < 0.001), spontaneous preterm birth (11.3% versus 5.7%, p < 0.001), fetal distress (33.0% versus 26.0%, p < 0.001), and cesarean section (33.0% versus 20.2%, p < 0.001). Rates of pregnancy terminations ≥22 weeks of gestation, stillbirths, gestational diabetes, placenta praevia, and placenta abruption were not significantly different between the COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 groups. The number of venous thromboembolic events was too low to perform statistical analysis. A limitation of this study relies in the possibility that asymptomatic infected women were not systematically detected. Conclusions: We observed an increased frequency of pregnant women with maternal morbidities and diagnosis of COVID-19 compared to pregnant women without COVID-19. It appears essential to be aware of this, notably in populations at known risk of developing a more severe form of infection or obstetrical morbidities and in order for obstetrical units to better inform pregnant women and provide the best care. Although causality cannot be determined from these associations, these results may be in line with recent recommendations in favor of vaccination for pregnant women.
, Tom Ellman
Published: 24 November 2021
Zibusiso Ndlovu and Tom Ellman discuss the potential value of task sharing in provision of testing for HIV and other infectious diseases.
Marije J. Splinter, Premysl Velek, M. Kamran Ikram, Brenda C. T. Kieboom, Robin P. Peeters, Patrick J. E. Bindels, , , Evelien I. T. de Schepper,
Published: 23 November 2021
Background: During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the number of consultations and diagnoses in primary care and referrals to specialist care declined substantially compared to prepandemic levels. Beyond deferral of elective non-COVID-19 care by healthcare providers, it is unclear to what extent healthcare avoidance by community-dwelling individuals contributed to this decline in routine healthcare utilisation. Moreover, it is uncertain which specific symptoms were left unheeded by patients and which determinants predispose to healthcare avoidance in the general population. In this cross-sectional study, we assessed prevalence of healthcare avoidance during the pandemic from a patient perspective, including symptoms that were left unheeded, as well as determinants of healthcare avoidance. Methods and findings: On April 20, 2020, a paper COVID-19 survey addressing healthcare utilisation, socioeconomic factors, mental and physical health, medication use, and COVID-19–specific symptoms was sent out to 8,732 participants from the population-based Rotterdam Study (response rate 73%). All questionnaires were returned before July 10, 2020. By hand, prevalence of healthcare avoidance was subsequently verified through free text analysis of medical records of general practitioners. Odds ratios (ORs) for avoidance were determined using logistic regression models, adjusted for age, sex, and history of chronic diseases. We found that 1,142 of 5,656 included participants (20.2%) reported having avoided healthcare. Of those, 414 participants (36.3%) reported symptoms that potentially warranted urgent evaluation, including limb weakness (13.6%), palpitations (10.8%), and chest pain (10.2%). Determinants related to avoidance were older age (adjusted OR 1.14 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08 to 1.21]), female sex (1.58 [1.38 to 1.82]), low educational level (primary education versus higher vocational/university 1.21 [1.01 to 1.46), poor self-appreciated health (per level decrease 2.00 [1.80 to 2.22]), unemployment (versus employed 2.29 [1.54 to 3.39]), smoking (1.34 [1.08 to 1.65]), concern about contracting COVID-19 (per level increase 1.28 [1.19 to 1.38]) and symptoms of depression (per point increase 1.13 [1.11 to 1.14]) and anxiety (per point increase 1.16 [1.14 to 1.18]). Study limitations included uncertainty about (perceived) severity of the reported symptoms and potentially limited generalisability given the ethnically homogeneous study population. Conclusions: In this population-based cross-sectional study, 1 in 5 individuals avoided healthcare during lockdown in the COVID-19 pandemic, often for potentially urgent symptoms. Healthcare avoidance was strongly associated with female sex, fragile self-appreciated health, and high levels of depression and anxiety. These results emphasise the need for targeted public education urging these vulnerable patients to timely seek medical care for their symptoms to mitigate major health consequences.
, , Jon Trærup Andersen, Hu Li, Stephen Paul Motsko, Thomas Fast, Simone Møller Hede,
Published: 22 November 2021
Background: The prevalence of depression and the exposure to antidepressants are high among women of reproductive age and during pregnancy. Duloxetine is a selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) approved in the United States and Europe in 2004 for the treatment of depression. Fetal safety of duloxetine is not well established. The present study evaluates the association of exposure to duloxetine during pregnancy and the risk of major and minor congenital malformations and the risk of stillbirths. Methods and findings: A population-based observational study was conducted based on data from registers in Sweden and Denmark. All registered births and stillbirths in the medical birth registers between 2004 and 2016 were included. Malformation diagnoses were identified up to 1 year after birth. Logistic regression analyses were used. Potential confounding was addressed through multiple regression, propensity score (PS) matching, and sensitivity analyses. Confounder variables included sociodemographic information (income, education, age, year of birth, and country), comorbidity and comedication, previous psychiatric contacts, and birth-related information (smoking during pregnancy and previous spontaneous abortions and stillbirths). Duloxetine-exposed women were compared with 4 comparators: (1) duloxetine-nonexposed women; (2) selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)-exposed women; (3) venlafaxine-exposed women; and (4) women exposed to duloxetine prior to, but not during, pregnancy. Exposure was defined as redemption of a prescription during the first trimester and throughout pregnancy for the analyses of malformations and stillbirths, respectively. Outcomes were major and minor malformations and stillbirths gathered from the national patient registers. The cohorts consisted of more than 2 million births with 1,512 duloxetine-exposed pregnancies. No increased risk for major malformations, minor malformations, or stillbirth was found across comparison groups in adjusted and PS-matched analyses. Duloxetine-exposed versus duloxetine-nonexposed PS-matched analyses showed odds ratio (OR) 0.98 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.74 to 1.30, p = 0.909) for major malformations, OR 1.09 (95% CI 0.82 to 1.45, p = 0.570) for minor malformation, and 1.18 (95% CI 0.43 to 3.19, p = 0.749) for stillbirths. For the individual malformation subtypes, some findings were statistically significant but were associated with large statistical uncertainty due to the extremely small number of events. The main limitations for the study were that the indication for duloxetine and a direct measurement of depression severity were not available to include as covariates. Conclusions: Based on this observational register-based nationwide study with data from Sweden and Denmark, no increased risk of major or minor congenital malformations or stillbirth was associated with exposure to duloxetine during pregnancy.
, Trusha Patel, Louisa Delaney, Soha Sobhy,
Published: 22 November 2021
Background: The rise in the global prevalence of diabetes, particularly among younger people, has led to an increase in the number of pregnant women with preexisting diabetes, many of whom have diabetes-related microvascular complications. We aimed to estimate the magnitude of the risks of adverse pregnancy outcomes or disease progression in this population. Methods and findings: We undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis on maternal and perinatal complications in women with type 1 or 2 diabetic microvascular disease and the risk factors for worsening of microvascular disease in pregnancy using a prospective protocol (PROSPERO CRD42017076647). We searched major databases (January 1990 to July 2021) for relevant cohort studies. Study quality was assessed using the Newcastle–Ottawa Scale. We summarized the findings as odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) using random effects meta-analysis. We included 56 cohort studies involving 12,819 pregnant women with diabetes; 40 from Europe and 9 from North America. Pregnant women with diabetic nephropathy were at greater risk of preeclampsia (OR 10.76, CI 6.43 to 17.99, p< 0.001), early (<34 weeks) (OR 6.90, 95% CI 3.38 to 14.06, p< 0.001) and any preterm birth (OR 4.48, CI 3.40 to 5.92, p< 0.001), and cesarean section (OR 3.04, CI 1.24 to 7.47, p = 0.015); their babies were at increased risk of perinatal death (OR 2.26, CI 1.07 to 4.75, p = 0.032), congenital abnormality (OR 2.71, CI 1.58 to 4.66, p< 0.001), small for gestational age (OR 16.89, CI 7.07 to 40.37, p< 0.001), and admission to neonatal unit (OR 2.59, CI 1.72 to 3.90, p< 0.001) than those without nephropathy. Diabetic retinopathy was associated with any preterm birth (OR 1.67, CI 1.27 to 2.20, p< 0.001) and preeclampsia (OR 2.20, CI 1.57 to 3.10, p< 0.001) but not other complications. The risks of onset or worsening of retinopathy were increased in women who were nulliparous (OR 1.75, 95% CI 1.28 to 2.40, p< 0.001), smokers (OR 2.31, 95% CI 1.25 to 4.27, p = 0.008), with existing proliferative disease (OR 2.12, 95% CI 1.11 to 4.04, p = 0.022), and longer duration of diabetes (weighted mean difference: 4.51 years, 95% CI 2.26 to 6.76, p< 0.001) than those without the risk factors. The main limitations of this analysis are the heterogeneity of definition of retinopathy and nephropathy and the inclusion of women both with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Conclusions: In pregnant women with diabetes, presence of nephropathy and/or retinopathy appear to further increase the risks of maternal complications.
Yuan Zhang, Hongxi Yang, Shu Li, ,
Published: 16 November 2021
Background: Previous studies have revealed the involvement of coffee and tea in the development of stroke and dementia. However, little is known about the association between the combination of coffee and tea and the risk of stroke, dementia, and poststroke dementia. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the associations of coffee and tea separately and in combination with the risk of developing stroke and dementia. Methods and findings: This prospective cohort study included 365,682 participants (50 to 74 years old) from the UK Biobank. Participants joined the study from 2006 to 2010 and were followed up until 2020. We used Cox proportional hazards models to estimate the associations between coffee/tea consumption and incident stroke and dementia, adjusting for sex, age, ethnicity, qualification, income, body mass index (BMI), physical activity, alcohol status, smoking status, diet pattern, consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), history of cancer, history of diabetes, history of cardiovascular arterial disease (CAD), and hypertension. Coffee and tea consumption was assessed at baseline. During a median follow-up of 11.4 years for new onset disease, 5,079 participants developed dementia, and 10,053 participants developed stroke. The associations of coffee and tea with stroke and dementia were nonlinear (P for nonlinear <0.01), and coffee intake of 2 to 3 cups/d or tea intake of 3 to 5 cups/d or their combination intake of 4 to 6 cups/d were linked with the lowest hazard ratio (HR) of incident stroke and dementia. Compared with those who did not drink tea and coffee, drinking 2 to 3 cups of coffee and 2 to 3 cups of tea per day was associated with a 32% (HR 0.68, 95% CI, 0.59 to 0.79; P< 0.001) lower risk of stroke and a 28% (HR, 0.72, 95% CI, 0.59 to 0.89; P = 0.002) lower risk of dementia. Moreover, the combination of coffee and tea consumption was associated with lower risk of ischemic stroke and vascular dementia. Additionally, the combination of tea and coffee was associated with a lower risk of poststroke dementia, with the lowest risk of incident poststroke dementia at a daily consumption level of 3 to 6 cups of coffee and tea (HR, 0.52, 95% CI, 0.32 to 0.83; P = 0.007). The main limitations were that coffee and tea intake was self-reported at baseline and may not reflect long-term consumption patterns, unmeasured confounders in observational studies may result in biased effect estimates, and UK Biobank participants are not representative of the whole United Kingdom population. Conclusions: We found that drinking coffee and tea separately or in combination were associated with lower risk of stroke and dementia. Intake of coffee alone or in combination with tea was associated with lower risk of poststroke dementia.
, , , Albert King, Daniel F. Mackay, ,
Published: 12 November 2021
Background: Looked after children are defined as children who are in the care of their local authority. Previous studies have reported that looked after children have poorer mental and physical health, increased behavioural problems, and increased self-harm and mortality compared to peers. They also experience poorer educational outcomes, yet population-wide research into the latter is lacking, particularly in the United Kingdom. Education and health share a bidirectional relationship; therefore, it is important to dually investigate both outcomes. Our study aimed to compare educational and health outcomes for looked after children with peers, adjusting for sociodemographic, maternity, and comorbidity confounders. Methods and findings: Linkage of 9 Scotland-wide databases, covering dispensed prescriptions, hospital admissions, maternity records, death certificates, annual pupil census, examinations, school absences/exclusions, unemployment, and looked after children provided retrospective data on 715,111 children attending Scottish schools between 2009 and 2012 (13,898 [1.9%] looked after). Compared to peers, 13,898 (1.9%) looked after children were more likely to be absent (adjusted incidence rate ratio [AIRR] 1.27, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.24 to 1.30) and excluded (AIRR 4.09, 95% CI 3.86 to 4.33) from school, have special educational need (SEN; adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 3.48, 95% CI 3.35 to 3.62) and neurodevelopmental multimorbidity (AOR 2.45, 95% CI 2.34 to 2.57), achieve the lowest level of academic attainment (AOR 5.92, 95% CI 5.17 to 6.78), and be unemployed after leaving school (AOR 2.12, 95% CI 1.96 to 2.29). They were more likely to require treatment for epilepsy (AOR 1.50, 95% CI 1.27 to 1.78), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; AOR 3.01, 95% CI 2.76 to 3.27), and depression (AOR 1.90, 95% CI 1.62 to 2.22), be hospitalised overall (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] 1.23, 95% CI 1.19 to 1.28) for injury (AHR 1.80, 95% CI 1.69 to 1.91) and self-harm (AHR 5.19, 95% CI 4.66 to 5.78), and die prematurely (AHR 3.21, 95% CI 2.16 to 4.77). Compared to children looked after at home, children looked after away from home had less absenteeism (AIRR 0.35, 95% CI 0.33 to 0.36), less exclusion (AIRR 0.63, 95% CI 0.56 to 0.71), less unemployment (AOR 0.53, 95% CI 0.46 to 0.62), and better attainment (AIRR 0.31, 95% CI 0.23 to 0.40). Therefore, among those in care, being cared for away from home appeared to be a protective factor resulting in better educational outcomes. The main limitations of this study were lack of data on local authority care preschool or before 2009, total time spent in care, and age of first contact with social care. Conclusions: Looked after children had poorer health and educational outcomes than peers independent of increased neurodevelopmental conditions and SEN. Further work is required to understand whether poorer outcomes relate to reasons for entering care, including maltreatment and adverse childhood events, neurodevelopmental vulnerabilities, or characteristics of the care system.
, Chunyan Yu, Xiaowen Tu, Minglin Deng, Tongjie Wang, Qiru Su,
Published: 11 November 2021
Background: Grade repetition is practiced worldwide and varies considerably across the globe. Globally, around 32.2 million students repeated a grade at the primary education level in 2010. Although a large body of research has documented grade repetition’s academic and non-academic effects, the limited evidence on associations between grade repetition and school bullying is inconsistent and ambiguous. This study aimed to investigate the global association of grade repetition with bullying victimization in a large-scale school-based cross-sectional study. Methods and findings: We used the latest global data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018. PISA 2018 was conducted between March and August 2018 in 80 countries and economies among students aged 15–16 years attending secondary education. The students reported their experiences of repeating a grade at any time point before the survey and of being bullied in the past 12 months. The outcome measures were 6 types of bullying victimization. We accounted for the complex survey design and used multivariate logistic regression models to estimate the odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of grade repetition with bullying victimization after adjusting for potential confounders (sex; age group; migrant status; school type; economic, social, and cultural status; and parental emotional support). This study included 465,146 students (234,218 girls and 230,928 boys) with complete data on grade repetition and bullying victimization in 74 countries and economies. The lifetime prevalence of grade repetition was 12.26%, and 30.32% of students experienced bullying at least a few times a month during the past 12 months. Grade repetition was statistically significantly associated with each type of bullying victimization. The OR (95% CI) of overall bullying victimization for grade repeaters compared with their promoted peers was 1.42 (95% CI 1.32–1.52, p< 0.001). The sex-specific analysis produced similar results in both boys and girls. Furthermore, girls who repeated a grade had higher risks of being made fun of, being threatened, having possessions taken away, and being pushed around than boys. The major limitation is that this study only included students attending schools and therefore may be subject to possible selection bias. In addition, the cross-sectional design hinders us from establishing causality between grade repetition and bullying victimization. Conclusions: In this study, we observed that, globally, both boys and girls who repeat a grade are at increased risk of being bullied compared with promoted peers, but girls may experience higher risks than boys of specific types of bullying associated with repeating a grade. These findings provide evidence for the association of grade repetition with bullying victimization. Sex differences in risk of experiencing some types of bullying suggest that tailored interventions for girls who repeat a grade may be warranted.
, Nicholas Turner, , Rhiannon Evans, , Rowan Brockman, , Harriet Fisher, Sarah Harding, , et al.
Published: 11 November 2021
Background: Teachers are at heightened risk of poor mental health and well-being, which is likely to impact on the support they provide to students, and student outcomes. We conducted a cluster randomised controlled trial, to test whether an intervention to improve mental health support and training for high school teachers led to improved mental health and well-being for teachers and students, compared to usual practice. We also conducted a cost evaluation of the intervention. Methods and findings: The intervention comprised (i) Mental Health First Aid training for teachers to support students; (ii) a mental health awareness session; and (iii) a confidential staff peer support service. In total 25 mainstream, non-fee-paying secondary schools stratified by geographical area and free school meal entitlement were randomly allocated to intervention (n = 12) or control group (n = 13) after collection of baseline measures. We analysed data using mixed-effects repeated measures models in the intention-to-treat population, adjusted for stratification variables, sex, and years of experience. The primary outcome was teacher well-being (Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale). Secondary outcomes were teacher depression, absence, and presenteeism, and student well-being, mental health difficulties, attendance, and attainment. Follow-up was at months 12 (T1) and 24 (T2). We collected process data to test the logic model underpinning the intervention, to aid interpretation of the findings. A total of 1,722 teachers were included in the primary analysis. Teacher well-being did not differ between groups at T2 (intervention mean well-being score 47.5, control group mean well-being score 48.4, adjusted mean difference −0.90, 95% CI –2.07 to 0.27, p = 0.130). The only effect on secondary outcomes was higher teacher-reported absence among the intervention group at T2 (intervention group median number of days absent 0, control group median number of days absent 0, ratio of geometric means 1.04, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.09, p = 0.042). Process measures indicated little change in perceived mental health support, quality of relationships, and work-related stress. The average cost of the intervention was £9,103 per school. The study’s main limitations were a lack of blinding of research participants and the self-report nature of the outcome measures. Conclusions: In this study, we observed no improvements to teacher or student mental health following the intervention, possibly due to a lack of impact on key drivers of poor mental health within the school environment. Future research should focus on structural and cultural changes to the school environment, which may be more effective at improving teacher and student mental health and well-being. Trial registration: ISRCTN95909211.
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