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1.  Evaluation of the Sheffield system for identifying children at risk from unexpected death in infancy. Results from Birmingham and Newcastle upon Tyne. 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  1978;53(8):649-652.
The "at birth" system which is used in Sheffield to identify children likely to die unexpectedly in infancy, was tested retrospectively in Birmingham (83 cases) and in Newcastle upon Tyne (56 cases). The discrimination between cases and age-matched controls was poor in both cities. Analysis of the 8 factors used in the system showed that only 2 maintained significant case/control differences in Birmingham and Newcastle. Further investigation showed that other factors from maternity records showed significant case/control differences in these cities. Although the system used in Sheffield would not be of use in a prospective prevention programme in either Newcastle or Birmingham, the possibility of evolving an "at risk" system which might apply more widely is discussed.
PMCID: PMC1545075  PMID: 708101
2.  Survey of gastroenteritis in children admitted to hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1971-5. 
British Medical Journal  1977;1(6061):619-621.
In a survey of 674 children admitted to the main gastroenteritis unit in Newcastle upon Tyne from 1971 to 1975 there was a noticeable reduction in the incidence of severe dehydration and hypernatraemia, though there was no appreciable change in many characteristics of the patients. This period coincided locally (and nationally) with a determined effort on the part of health visitors and doctors to encourage mothers to breast-feed and to advise them to avoid giving concentrated milk feeds and ensure an adequate water intake during febrile illnesses. This may have contributed towards a reduction in the severity of the illness in children with gastroenteritis admitted to hospital. The overall mortality and the incidence of neurological complications in cases of hypernatraemia are low compared with previous reports.
PMCID: PMC1605265  PMID: 843840
3.  Agreement between the Takeda UA-731 automatic blood pressure measuring device and the manual mercury sphygmomanometer: an assessment under field conditions in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. 
STUDY OBJECTIVE: To assess agreement between two Takeda UA-731 automatic blood pressure measuring devices (referred to as machines A and B) and two manual mercury sphygmomanometers. DESIGN: A 'Y' connector attached each Takeda UA-731 to a manual mercury sphygmomanometer. Simultaneous measurements were made on adult subjects. SETTING: A population based cardiovascular disease survey in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. PARTICIPANTS: Measurements on machine A were compared in 71 individuals (all women), and on machine B in 75 individuals (9 men, 66 women). The age range of subjects was 28 to 76 years and median ages were 59 years for machine A and 50 years for machine B. MAIN RESULTS: Blood pressure (mmHg) ranged from 72 to 212 systolic and 44 to 102 diastolic. Both Takedas gave significantly lower readings than the manual devices for systolic and diastolic pressures: differences were mean (SD: 95% CI) 3.7 mmHg (6.5: 2.2, 5.2) for machine A systolic, 2.3 mmHg (4.5: 1.3, 3.4) machine A diastolic; 1.8 mmHg (6.2: 0.4, 3.3) machine B systolic, and 1.8 (4.4: 0.8, 2.8) machine B diastolic. On the British Hypertension Society criteria, machine A was graded C on systolic measurements and B on diastolic; machine B was graded B on both systolic and diastolic measurements. CONCLUSIONS: The performance of these machines compares favourably with the Dinamap 8100, recently adopted for survey work by the Department of Health. The Takeda UA-731 looks promising for epidemiological survey work but before it can be fully recommended further evaluations are needed.
PMCID: PMC1060256  PMID: 8762392
4.  Renal replacement treatment for diabetic patients in Newcastle upon Tyne and the Northern region, 1964-88. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1990;301(6751):535-540.
OBJECTIVES--To review the experience of renal replacement treatment in diabetic patients treated in Newcastle upon Tyne and the Northern region from 1964 to 1988, and to compare the morbidity and mortality of diabetic patients treated with dialysis or transplantation with those of matched controls of non-diabetic patients. DESIGN--Retrospective study of clinical case notes. SETTING--Renal units of the Northern region, particularly that in Newcastle upon Tyne. PATIENTS--All 65 diabetic patients treated by renal replacement treatment in Newcastle upon Tyne from 1964 to 1987; 42 diabetic patients were matched with 42 non-diabetic patients according to age, sex, year of starting treatment, and type of treatment (dialysis or transplantation). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Sex, age, renal biopsy findings, blood pressure, history of diabetic treatment, and plasma creatinine concentration at the start of renal replacement treatment. History of renal replacement treatments, suitability for transplantation, history of transplantation, cumulative survival, and cause of death during follow up. Survival of technique, cumulative survival of the first peritoneal catheter and history of peritonitis in patients treated with continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis; source of graft, histocompatibility antigens, duration of associated stay in hospital, and graft survival in patients receiving renal or pancreatic transplant. RESULTS--1259 Patients with chronic renal failure were accepted for renal replacement treatment in Newcastle upon Tyne, of whom 65 (5%) had diabetes. The first was accepted in 1974, and between 1974 and 1980 another 15 were treated (mean age 42 years; 4% of new patients). From 1981 to 1987, 49 diabetic patients (mean age 44; 9% of new patients) were treated. Fifty patients (77%) had insulin dependent diabetes and the remaining 15 (23%) non-insulin dependent diabetes. On average, the patients were aged 25 (range 5-57) when diabetes was first diagnosed and 44 (range 24-70) at the start of renal replacement treatment. The mean age at the start of treatment was 40 for patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes and 58 for patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes. Transplantation was performed in 33 of the diabetic patients, whose mean age was lower than that of those who did not receive a transplant (41 v 48 respectively, p less than 0.05). Comparison between the 42 diabetic patients and matched controls showed that the overall survival at five years was 46% and 77% respectively. The three year survival of the diabetic patients who did not receive a transplant was poor (41% v 79% respectively). Of patients transplanted, survival at five years was 73% in the diabetic patients and 90% in the controls. However, there was no significant difference in the five year graft survival (64% v 46% respectively). CONCLUSIONS--Diabetes adversely affects morbidity and mortality in patients having renal replacement treatment, but renal transplantation seems to be the best option for treating diabetic patients with end stage renal failure.
PMCID: PMC1663834  PMID: 2207426
5.  Plasma osmolality, sodium, and urea in healthy breast-fed and bottle-fed infants in Newcastle upon Tyne. 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  1975;50(9):731-734.
Dale, G., Goldfinch, M. E., Sibert, J. R., and Webb, J. K. G. (1975). Archives of Disease in childhood, 50, 731. Plasma osmolality, sodium, and urea in healthy breast-fed and bottle-fed infants in Newcastle upon Tyne. Plasma osmolality, sodium, and urea were measured on samples from 50 healthy infants, aged between 18 and 125 days, attending child health clinics in Newcastle upon Tyne. 3 infants had osmolalities greater than 300 mOsm/kg, a lower incidence of hyperosmolality than that previously reported. There was a difference (P less than 0-001) between the plasma urea levels of breast-fed and bottle-fed infants, but not between the osmolalities of these groups. The mean plasma urea of bottle-fed babies was 53 mg/100 ml (SD 12-47), 50-1 mg/100 ml (SD 10-9) if additional solids were being given, and 18-4 mg/100 ml (SD 7-81) for breast-fed babies. There was little difference between the plasma sodium levels of each group. The mean plasma sodium for all groups combined was 135-2 mmol/1 (SD 2-3); no plasma sodium exceeded 140 mmol/1.
PMCID: PMC1545619  PMID: 1190823
6.  Primary and community health services in Newcastle upon Tyne--a joint statement of intent. 
In the absence of a single primary health care authority (except in Scotland) district health authorities and family practitioner committees must cooperate in planning health services for the community. Equally, in the field, the potential for teamwork between salaried district health authority nursing staff and the independent general practitioners remains largely unrealized. Yet the government has restated its commitment to the development of primary health care teams as the best means of delivering health care in the community. In Newcastle upon Tyne the local medical committee and the community health services management team have set out their shared aspirations for future development in a joint 'Statement of intent'. This statement, since endorsed by the district health authority and family practitioner committee, includes a number of key principles as a basis for future joint working. These principles emanate from an understanding of the complementary nature of general practice and district health authority community services, and firmly support the primary health care team approach. This statement of intent could serve as a useful model for collaboration and planning of services elsewhere in the country.
PMCID: PMC1711844  PMID: 2559994
7.  Restriction enzyme analysis of faecal adenoviruses in Newcastle upon Tyne. 
Epidemiology and Infection  1988;101(2):445-458.
Adenovirus DNA was isolated directly from virus-containing stools and digested with restriction endonucleases. The resulting fragments were separated by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) and visualized by silver staining. This enabled us to assign most of the viruses detected to subgenus, serotype and, sometimes, unique strains. Although less sensitive than electron microscopy, the method allowed more information about the infecting virus to be obtained and no cultivation was necessary. Comparison with culture also allowed dual infections to be recognized. A 2-year survey of faecal adenoviruses in Newcastle upon Tyne showed that type 41 (strain 41a) was the predominant type and strain 41p was not recorded. Heterogeneity in strain 41a was also noted as found elsewhere. Adenovirus type 40 was common prior to 1985 but was absent during the last 2 years.
PMCID: PMC2249390  PMID: 2460364
8.  Prevention of type 2 diabetes in adults with impaired glucose tolerance: the European Diabetes Prevention RCT in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:342.
Diabetes prevalence is increasing. The Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study (DPS) showed a 58% reduction in Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) incidence in adults with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). The European Diabetes Prevention Study (EDIPS) extends the DPS to different European populations, using the same study design. In the Newcastle arm of this study (EDIPS-Newcastle), we tested the hypothesis that T2D can be prevented by lifestyle intervention and explored secondary outcomes in relation to diabetes incidence.
We recruited 102 participants (42 men and 60 women, mean age 57 years, mean BMI 34 kgm-2) with IGT to EDIPS-Newcastle and randomised to Intervention and usual care Control groups. The intervention included individual motivational interviewing aimed at: weight reduction, increase in physical activity, fibre and carbohydrate intake and reduction of fat intake (secondary outcomes). The primary outcome was diagnosis of T2D.
Mean duration of follow-up was 3.1 years. T2D was diagnosed in 16 participants (I = 5, C = 11). Absolute incidence of T2D was 32.7 per 1000 person-years in the Intervention-group and 67.1 per 1000 person-years in the Control-group. The overall incidence of diabetes was reduced by 55% in the Intervention-group, compared with the Control-group: RR 0.45 (95%CI 0.2 to 1.2).
Explanatory survival analysis of secondary outcomes showed that those who sustained beneficial changes for two or more years reduced their risk of developing T2D.
Our results are consistent with other diabetes prevention trials. This study was designed as part of a larger study and although the sample size limits statistical significance, the results contribute to the evidence that T2D can be prevented by lifestyle changes in adults with IGT. In explanatory analysis small sustained beneficial changes in weight, physical activity or dietary factors were associated with reduction in T2D incidence.
Trial Registration
International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number registry (ISRCTN)
Registry number: ISRCTN 15670600
PMCID: PMC2760530  PMID: 19758428
9.  Clinical presentation, treatment, and outcomes in presumed intraocular tuberculosis: experience from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK 
Eye  2013;27(4):480-486.
To report the clinical manifestations and treatment outcomes of patients with presumed intraocular tuberculosis (TB) seen at the Newcastle Uveitis Service, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK over a 10-year period.
Retrospective review of case notes.
A total of 21 patients were identified. Occlusive retinal vasculitis was the commonest ophthalmological presentation (12 patients). Eight patients (38%) were found to have underlying active systemic TB (four with mediastinal lymphadenopathy, three with pulmonary TB, one with cutaneous TB). Constitutional or respiratory symptoms, elevated inflammatory markers, and an abnormal chest radiograph were poor indicators of active TB. Two patients had inactive intrathoracic TB. Eleven patients had latent TB. Eighteen patients received anti-tuberculous treatment. Final visual acuity was better than or equal to initial visual acuity in 14 out of 16 patients who completed at least 6 months of standard anti-tuberculous treatment.
Most patients with presumed intraocular TB have latent TB, but a significant minority has hitherto undetected active TB. Our series suggests that either proven or presumed intraocular TB occurs frequently in the absence of constitutional or respiratory symptoms, elevated inflammatory markers, or an abnormal chest radiograph. A minimum of 6 months standard anti-tuberculous treatment provides good visual outcomes in the majority of patients.
PMCID: PMC3626011  PMID: 23429412
Intraocular tuberculosis; uveitis; occlusive retinal vasculitis; anti-tuberculous treatment
10.  An evaluation of child health clinic services in Newcastle upon Tyne during 1972-1974. 
The community child health clinics continued to provide an important and popular service for mothers with young children in Newcastle during 1972-1974, supplementing the primary care services of general practitioners as only a minority of them had undertaken the preventive aspects of child care. Most of the work of the community clinics was done by health visitors and it consisted of advice, support, and reassurance about the everyday problems of children. Although an appreciable amount of the work of the community doctors was developmental screening (birthday checks) most mothers consulted them about relatively minor medical complaints--such as feeding difficulties, specific developmental problems, and immunisation. There was no attempt to do a birthday check on all the children in the city and those that were done revealed few significant undetected abnormalities because most of the children had already attended clinics. In a poor area of the city, family and social problems were often found but very little consultation took place between health and social services, indicating the need for better liaison between these services. The community child health clinics will need to be maintained if general practitioners cannot provide these services and are unable to include preventive as well as curative child care within their practice.
PMCID: PMC478983  PMID: 856367
11.  Adenocarcinoma of the gallbladder--a 5 year review of outcome in Newcastle upon Tyne. 
Patients presenting with adenocarcinoma of the gallbladder within Newcastle upon Tyne over a 5 year period (1980-1985) were reviewed retrospectively. The mean age of patients on diagnosis was 74 years. Of the 29 patients diagnosed, two were detected after routine cholecystectomy. Laparotomy was performed in 21 patients (72%) of which only 14 patients had a cholecystectomy performed. Mean survival after surgery was 6.6 months with only one patient alive after 5 years. Metastatic disease was present in 72% of patients. The poor prognosis of carcinoma of the gallbladder reflects its late diagnosis and early metastasis to distant sites. Improvement in survival will depend upon early detection of in situ lesions and identification of at risk patients.
PMCID: PMC1293093  PMID: 1999820
12.  Partner notification for HIV infection in the United Kingdom: a look back on seven years experience in Newcastle upon Tyne. 
Genitourinary Medicine  1993;69(2):94-97.
OBJECTIVE--To examine the outcome of partner notification for HIV infection. DESIGN--Retrospective analysis of medical, health adviser and counsellor records. SETTING--Teaching hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne. PATIENTS--All newly diagnosed cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and their sexual partners. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Attendance of contact at genitourinary medicine clinics for counselling and testing. Seropositivity rate of people attending as a result of partner notification. RESULTS--Of the 80 partners attending as a result of partner notification 79 were tested. Twenty-five of these (31.6%) were seropositive. This was 21.9% of our newly diagnosed caseload. Seventy-five attended following patient referral and five as a result of provider referral. Discrepancies between districts in policies of provider referral prevented two partners being notified. CONCLUSIONS--Partner notification is an effective method of ensuring that people with a very high risk of HIV infection have access to counselling and medical care. Complete integration of notification services throughout the UK is required.
PMCID: PMC1195037  PMID: 8509100
13.  Asymptomatic bacteriuria in schoolchildren in Newcastle upon Tyne. 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  1975;50(2):90-102.
A screening survey for asymptomatic bacteriuria (ASB) in 13464 schoolgirls aged 4 to 18 years in Newcastle upon Tyne showed an overall prevalence of 1.9%. In girls 4 to 6 years it was 1.4%, in girls aged 7 to 11 years it was 2.5%, in girls aged 12 to 18 years it was 1.6%, a statistically significant rise and fall. Renal scarring was found in 39 (15%) of 254 girls with ASB. Neither the prevalence nor the severity of renal scarring increased with age. There was no association between ASB and social class. Of the 254 girls with ASB, 24% had no symptoms. Infections with klebsiella were more frequently associated with renal scarring than infections with Esch. coli. The prevalence of ASB in 1595 boys aged 5 to 18 was low, 0.2%. Ureteric reflux was present in 15% of girls without renal scarring and in 46% of those with renal scarring (P less than 0.001). Renal scarring also showed a significant association with duplication, hydroureter, or single saccules in the bladder. The greater the severity of scarring the more frequently was reflux present. This study gave no evidence that asymptomatic bacteriuria leads to progressive renal damage during childhood. It therefore does not support the recommendation for prescriptive screening of schoolchildren, but emphasizes the need for prospective studies of the natural history of ASB.
PMCID: PMC1544400  PMID: 805569
14.  Changes in the Pattern of Admissions for Attempted Suicide in Newcastle upon Tyne during the 1960s 
British Medical Journal  1971;4(5784):412-415.
Comparison of 726 admissions to Newcastle upon Tyne General Hospital for attempted suicide in the period 1 October 1966 to 30 September 1969 with a previously reported series of 276 in 1962-4 showed an overall increase in annual admissions of 77%. For both sexes under age 30 years and females over 60 years the increase was over double. Psychiatric morbidity had increased, and there was also a significant rise in the proportion of unemployed men.
The relative frequency of ingestion of non-barbiturate psychotropic or hypnotic drugs and barbiturates had changed, the former now being more common than the latter as the suicidal agent. Finally, there had been a significant increase in the proportion of patients receiving subsequent psychiatric treatment.
PMCID: PMC1799508  PMID: 5124444
15.  Incidence and types of acute viral hepatitis in Newcastle upon Tyne. 
Postgraduate Medical Journal  1988;64(757):854-855.
The incidence and types of viral hepatitis in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne have been studied by serological analysis of (a) all blood samples sent to the virological laboratory for hepatitis testing and (b) all blood samples sent by general practitioners to the biochemical laboratory for liver function testing. The annual detection rate of acute viral hepatitis was found to be 31.5 cases/100,000 population, of which 9.1 were hepatitis B. Only three sporadic cases of non-A non-B hepatitis were identified. The incidence of hepatitis is at least four-fold greater than suggested by notification rates and may be substantially higher as general practitioners rarely requested laboratory confirmation of household contacts of index cases.
PMCID: PMC2429054  PMID: 3255933
16.  Systematic review and meta-analysis of preterm birth and later systolic blood pressure 
Hypertension  2011;59(2):226-234.
Lower birth weight due to fetal growth restriction is associated with higher blood pressure later in life, but the extent to which preterm birth (<37 completed weeks’ gestation) or very low birth weight (<1500g) predicts higher blood pressure is less clear. We performed a systematic review of 27 observational studies that compared the resting or ambulatory systolic blood pressure, or diagnosis of hypertension, among children, adolescents, and adults born preterm or very low birth weight with those born full term. We performed a meta-analysis with the subset of 10 studies that reported the resting systolic blood pressure difference in mmHg with 95% confidence intervals or standard errors. We assessed methodological quality with a modified Newcastle-Ottawa scale. The 10 studies comprised 1342 preterm or very low birth weight and 1738 full term participants from 8 countries. The mean gestational age at birth of the preterm participants was 30.2 weeks (range, 28.8 to 34.1), birth weight 1280 grams (1098 to 1958), and age at systolic blood pressure measurement 17.8 years (6.3 to 22.4). Former preterm or very low birth weight infants had higher systolic blood pressure than full term infants (pooled estimate 2.5 mmHg, 95% CI: 1.7, 3.3). For the 5 highest quality studies, the systolic blood pressure difference was slightly greater, 3.8 mmHg (95% CI 2.6, 5.0). We conclude that infants who are born preterm or very low birth weight have modestly higher systolic blood pressure later in life, and may be at increased risk for developing hypertension and its sequelae.
PMCID: PMC3266458  PMID: 22158643
Blood pressure; meta-analysis; systematic review; preterm birth; very low birth weight
17.  Genetic Markers of Adult Obesity Risk Are Associated with Greater Early Infancy Weight Gain and Growth 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(5):e1000284.
Ken Ong and colleagues genotyped children from the ALSPAC birth cohort and showed an association between greater early infancy gains in weight and length and genetic markers for adult obesity risk.
Genome-wide studies have identified several common genetic variants that are robustly associated with adult obesity risk. Exploration of these genotype associations in children may provide insights into the timing of weight changes leading to adult obesity.
Methods and Findings
Children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) birth cohort were genotyped for ten genetic variants previously associated with adult BMI. Eight variants that showed individual associations with childhood BMI (in/near: FTO, MC4R, TMEM18, GNPDA2, KCTD15, NEGR1, BDNF, and ETV5) were used to derive an “obesity-risk-allele score” comprising the total number of risk alleles (range: 2–15 alleles) in each child with complete genotype data (n = 7,146). Repeated measurements of weight, length/height, and body mass index from birth to age 11 years were expressed as standard deviation scores (SDS). Early infancy was defined as birth to age 6 weeks, and early infancy failure to thrive was defined as weight gain between below the 5th centile, adjusted for birth weight. The obesity-risk-allele score showed little association with birth weight (regression coefficient: 0.01 SDS per allele; 95% CI 0.00–0.02), but had an apparently much larger positive effect on early infancy weight gain (0.119 SDS/allele/year; 0.023–0.216) than on subsequent childhood weight gain (0.004 SDS/allele/year; 0.004–0.005). The obesity-risk-allele score was also positively associated with early infancy length gain (0.158 SDS/allele/year; 0.032–0.284) and with reduced risk of early infancy failure to thrive (odds ratio  = 0.92 per allele; 0.86–0.98; p = 0.009).
The use of robust genetic markers identified greater early infancy gains in weight and length as being on the pathway to adult obesity risk in a contemporary birth cohort.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The proportion of overweight and obese children is increasing across the globe. In the US, the Surgeon General estimates that, compared with 1980, twice as many children and three times the number of adolescents are now overweight. Worldwide, 22 million children under five years old are considered by the World Health Organization to be overweight.
Being overweight or obese in childhood is associated with poor physical and mental health. In addition, childhood obesity is considered a major risk factor for adult obesity, which is itself a major risk factor for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and other chronic conditions.
The most commonly used measure of whether an adult is a healthy weight is body mass index (BMI), defined as weight in kilograms/(height in metres)2. However, adult categories of obese (>30) and overweight (>25) BMI are not directly applicable to children, whose BMI naturally varies as they grow. BMI can be used to screen children for being overweight and or obese but a diagnosis requires further information.
Why Was This Study Done?
As the numbers of obese and overweight children increase, a corresponding rise in future numbers of overweight and obese adults is also expected. This in turn is expected to lead to an increasing incidence of poor health. As a result, there is great interest among health professionals in possible pathways between childhood and adult obesity. It has been proposed that certain periods in childhood may be critical for the development of obesity.
In the last few years, ten genetic variants have been found to be more common in overweight or obese adults. Eight of these have also been linked to childhood BMI and/or obesity. The authors wanted to identify the timing of childhood weight changes that may be associated with adult obesity. Knowledge of obesity risk genetic variants gave them an opportunity to do so now, without following a set of children to adulthood.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The authors analysed data gathered from a subset of 7,146 singleton white European children enrolled in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) study, which is investigating associations between genetics, lifestyle, and health outcomes for a group of children in Bristol whose due date of birth fell between April 1991 and December 1992. They used knowledge of the children's genetic makeup to find associations between an obesity risk allele score—a measure of how many of the obesity risk genetic variants a child possessed—and the children's weight, height, BMI, levels of body fat (at nine years old), and rate of weight gain, up to age 11 years.
They found that, at birth, children with a higher obesity risk allele score were not any heavier, but in the immediate postnatal period they were less likely to be in the bottom 5% of the population for weight gain (adjusted for birthweight), often termed “failure to thrive.” At six weeks of age, children with a higher obesity risk allele score tended to be longer and heavier, even allowing for weight at birth.
After six weeks of age, the obesity risk allele score was not associated with any further increase in length/height, but it was associated with a more rapid weight gain between birth and age 11 years. BMI is derived from height and weight measurements, and the association between the obesity risk allele score and BMI was weak between birth and age three-and-a-half years, but after that age the association with BMI increased rapidly. By age nine, children with a higher obesity risk allele score tended to be heavier and taller, with more fat on their bodies.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The combined obesity allele risk score is associated with higher rates of weight gain and adult obesity, and so the authors conclude that weight gain and growth even in the first few weeks after birth may be the beginning of a pathway of greater adult obesity risk.
A study that tracks a population over time can find associations but it cannot show cause and effect. In addition, only a relatively small proportion (1.7%) of the variation in BMI at nine years of age is explained by the obesity risk allele score.
The authors' method of finding associations between childhood events and adult outcomes via genetic markers of risk of disease as an adult has a significant advantage: the authors did not have to follow the children themselves to adulthood, so their findings are more likely to be relevant to current populations. Despite this, this research does not yield advice for parents how to reduce their children's obesity risk. It does suggest that “failure to thrive” in the first six weeks of life is not simply due to a lack of provision of food by the baby's caregiver but that genetic factors also contribute to early weight gain and growth.
The study looked at the combined obesity risk allele score and the authors did not attempt to identify which individual alleles have greater or weaker associations with weight gain and overweight or obesity. This would require further research based on far larger numbers of babies and children. The findings may also not be relevant to children in other types of setting because of the effects of different nutrition and lifestyles.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Further information is available on the ALSPAC study
The UK National Health Service and other partners provide guidance on establishing a healthy lifestyle for children and families in their Change4Life programme
The International Obesity Taskforce is a global network of expertise and the advocacy arm of the International Association for the Study of Obesity. It works with the World Health Organization, other NGOs, and stakeholders and provides information on overweight and obesity
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US provide guidance and tips on maintaining a healthy weight, including BMI calculators in both metric and Imperial measurements for both adults and children. They also provide BMI growth charts for boys and girls showing how healthy ranges vary for each sex at with age
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health provides growth charts for weight and length/height from birth to age 4 years that are based on WHO 2006 growth standards and have been adapted for use in the UK
The CDC Web site provides information on overweight and obesity in adults and children, including definitions, causes, and data
The CDC also provide information on the role of genes in causing obesity.
The World Health Organization publishes a fact sheet on obesity, overweight and weight management, including links to childhood overweight and obesity
Wikipedia includes an article on childhood obesity (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC2876048  PMID: 20520848
18.  Covert bacteriuria in schoolgirls in Newcastle upon Tyne 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  1981;56(8):585-592.
Two hundred and fifty-two schoolgirls with covert bacteriuria were followed up for 5 years. Forty-one girls were prescribed obligatory chemotherapy because of renal involvement, mainly scarring. Of the remaining 211 girls, 106 were randomly allocated to a no chemotherapy group and 105 to a chemotherapy group to receive a 2-year course of chemotherapy. Treatment was highly effective with 98% showing some response bacteriologically and 90% being culture-negative at 2 years. However, at 5 years—that is 3 years after stopping treatment—this had fallen to 64%. In the no chemotherapy group 40% had spontaneously become culture-negative at 2 years and this had increased to 49% at 5 years. The difference at 5 years between the two groups attains statistical significance. During follow-up, 11% of the no chemotherapy group and 9·5% of the chemotherapy group developed symptomatic disease of the urinary tract. Renal growth was measured by calculating regression lines for the relationship between kidney length and the distance between the 1st and 3rd lumbar vertebrae. The rate of growth of the kidneys over 5 years in the two randomised groups was similar. Only one girl (no chemotherapy group) developed a new renal scar during the study. Measurement of the growth rate of individual kidneys in the obligatory chemotherapy group showed that, despite chemotherapy, there was below average growth in 21 out of 33 scarred kidneys and in 8 patients the degree of renal scarring had increased. It was concluded that, when kidneys were radiologically normal, covert bacteriuria did not lead to renal damage or impaired renal growth in the subsequent 5 years, even if it remained untreated. Consequently, it is recommended that schoolchildren should not be screened for covert bacteriuria until a non-radiological method can be devised to detect those with renal scarring.
PMCID: PMC1627274  PMID: 7271298
19.  Childhood infections, but not early life growth, influence hearing in the Newcastle thousand families birth cohort at age 14 years 
While current research priorities include investigations of age-related hearing loss, there are concerns regarding effects on childhood hearing, for example through increased personal headphone use. By utilising historical data, it is possible to assess what factors may have increased hearing problems in children in the past, and this may be used to inform current public health policies to protect children against hearing loss and in turn reduce the long-term burden on individuals and services that may possible evolve. The aim of this study was to investigate which factors in early life significantly impacted on hearing level in childhood using existing data from the Newcastle Thousand Families Study, a 1947 birth cohort.
Data on early life factors, including growth, socio-economic status and illness, and hearing at age 14 years were collated for a representative subset of individuals from the cohort (n = 147). Factors were assessed using linear regression analysis to identify associations with hearing thresholds.
Males were found to have lower hearing thresholds at 250 Hz, 500 Hz and 1 kHz. Main analyses showed no associations between hearing thresholds and early life growth or socio-economic indicators. An increasing number of ear infections from birth to age 13 years was associated with hearing thresholds at 250Hz (p = 0.04) and 500Hz (p = 0.03), which remained true for females (p = 0.050), but not males (p = 0.213) in sex-specific analysis. Scarlet fever and bronchitis were associated with hearing thresholds at 8 kHz. After adjustment for all significant predictors at each frequency, results remained unchanged.
We found no associations between childhood hearing thresholds and early life growth and socio-economic status. Consistent with other studies, we found associations between childhood infections and hearing thresholds. Current public health strategies aimed at reducing childhood infections may also have a beneficial effect upon childhood hearing.
PMCID: PMC3735408  PMID: 23895514
Childhood hearing; Fetal growth; Risk factors; Aetiology; Epidemiology
20.  Trial of Clofibrate in the Treatment of Ischaemic Heart Disease: FIVE-YEAR STUDY BY A GROUP OF PHYSICIANS OF THE NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE REGION* 
British Medical Journal  1971;4(5790):767-775.
In a double-blind clinical trial of clofibrate versus identical quantity of corn oil 497 patients with ischaemic heart disease were observed over a period of five years. The death rate and the rate of non-fatal infarcts were significantly less among the clofibrate group, and the difference was greatest in respect of sudden deaths and among patients who had previously suffered from angina rather than infarction.
The cholesterol- and triglyceride-reducing properties of clofibrate were maintained throughout the period of the trial and side effects were very few. But the protective action of the drug against new infarcts and death bore no apparent relation to these properties.
PMCID: PMC1799703  PMID: 4943605
21.  Childhood Growth, IQ and Education as Predictors of White Blood Cell Telomere Length at Age 49–51 Years: The Newcastle Thousand Families Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40116.
Telomere length is emerging as a potential factor in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. We investigated whether birth weight, infant growth, childhood cognition and adult height, as well as a range of lifestyle, socio-economic and educational factors, were associated with white blood cell telomere length at age 49–51 years.
The study included 318 members of the Newcastle Thousand Families Study, a prospectively followed birth cohort which includes all individuals born in Newcastle, England in May and June 1947, who attended for clinical examination at age 49–51 years, and had telomere length successfully measured using real-time PCR analyses of DNA extracted from peripheral blood mononuclear cells.
No association was found between birth weight and later telomere length. However, associations were seen with other factors from early life. Education level was the only predictor in males, while telomere length in females was associated with gestational age at birth, childhood growth and childhood IQ.
While these findings may be due to chance, in particular where differing associations were seen between males and females, they do provide evidence of early life associations with telomere length much later in life. Our findings of sex differences in the education association may reflect the sex differences in achieved education levels in this generation where few women went to university regardless of their intelligence. Our findings do not support the concept of telomere length being on the pathway between very early growth and later disease risk.
PMCID: PMC3391235  PMID: 22792222
22.  Growth and metabolic outcome in adolescents born preterm (GROWMORE): follow-up protocol for the Newcastle preterm birth growth study (PTBGS) 
BMC Pediatrics  2013;13:213.
Preterm infants represent up to 10% of births worldwide and have an increased risk of adverse metabolic outcomes in later life. Early life exposures are key factors in determining later health but current lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity are also extremely important and provide an opportunity for targeted intervention.
This current study, GROWMORE, is the fourth phase of the Newcastle Preterm Birth Growth Study (PTBGS), which was formed from two randomised controlled trials of nutrition in early life in preterm (24–34 weeks gestation) and low birthweight infants. 247 infants were recruited prior to hospital discharge. Infant follow-up included detailed measures of growth, nutritional intake, morbidities and body composition (Dual X Ray Absorptiometry, DXA) along with demographic data until 2 years corrected age. Developmental assessment was performed at 18 months corrected age, and cognitive assessment at 9–10 years of age. Growth, body composition (DXA), blood pressure and metabolic function (insulin resistance and lipid profile) were assessed at 9–13 years of age, and samples obtained for epigenetic analysis. In GROWMORE, we will follow up a representative cohort using established techniques and novel metabolic biomarkers and correlate these with current lifestyle factors including physical activity and dietary intake. We will assess auxology, body composition (BODPOD™), insulin resistance, daily activity levels using Actigraph™ software and use 31P and 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy to assess mitochondrial function and intra-hepatic lipid content.
The Newcastle PTBGS is a unique cohort of children born preterm in the late 1990’s. The major strengths are the high level of detail of early nutritional and growth exposures, and the comprehensive assessment over time. This study aims to examine the associations between early life exposures in preterm infants and metabolic outcomes in adolescence, which represents an area of major translational importance.
PMCID: PMC3898006  PMID: 24359608
Preterm birth; Insulin sensitivity; Childhood growth; Metabolic outcomes; Magnetic resonance spectroscopy
23.  Risk of cardiovascular disease measured by carotid intima-media thickness at age 49-51: lifecourse study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2000;320(7230):273-278.
To quantify the direct and indirect effects of fetal life, childhood, and adult life on risk of cardiovascular disease at age 49-51 years.
Follow up study of the “Newcastle thousand families” birth cohort established in 1947.
154 men and 193 women who completed a health and lifestyle questionnaire and attended for clinical examination between October 1996 and December 1998.
Main outcome measures
Correlations between mean intima-media thickness of the carotid artery (carotid intima-media thickness) and family history, birth weight, and socioeconomic position around birth; socioeconomic position, growth, illness, and adverse life events in childhood; and adult socioeconomic position, lifestyle, and biological risk markers. Proportions of variance in carotid intima-media thickness that were accounted for by each stage of the lifecourse.
Socioeconomic position at birth and birth weight were negatively associated with carotid intima-media thickness, although only social class at birth in women was a statistically significant covariate independent of adult lifestyle. These early life variables accounted directly for 2.2% of total variance in men and 2.0% in women. More variation in carotid intima-media thickness was explained by adult socioeconomic position and lifestyle, which accounted directly and indirectly for 3.4% of variance in men (95% confidence interval 0.5% to 6.2%) and 7.6% in women (2.1% to 13.0%). Biological risk markers measured in adulthood independently accounted for a further 9.5% of variance in men (2.4% to 14.2%) and 4.9% in women (1.6% to 7.4%).
Adult lifestyle and biological risk markers were the most important determinants of the cardiovascular health of the study members of the Newcastle thousand families cohort at age 49-51 years. The limited overall effect of early life factors may reflect the postwar birth year of this cohort.
PMCID: PMC27272  PMID: 10650022
24.  Temporal changes in key maternal and fetal factors affecting birth outcomes: A 32-year population-based study in an industrial city 
The link between maternal factors and birth outcomes is well established. Substantial changes in society and medical care over time have influenced women's reproductive choices and health, subsequently affecting birth outcomes. The objective of this study was to describe temporal changes in key maternal and fetal factors affecting birth outcomes in Newcastle upon Tyne over three decades, 1961–1992.
For these descriptive analyses we used data from a population-based birth record database constructed for the historical cohort Particulate Matter and Perinatal Events Research (PAMPER) study. The PAMPER database was created using details from paper-based hospital delivery and neonatal records for all births during 1961–1992 to mothers resident in Newcastle (out of a total of 109,086 singleton births, 97,809 hospital births with relevant information). In addition to hospital records, we used other sources for data collection on births not included in the delivery and neonatal records, for death and stillbirth registrations and for validation.
The average family size decreased mainly due to a decline in the proportion of families with 3 or more children. The distribution of mean maternal ages in all and in primiparous women was lowest in the mid 1970s, corresponding to a peak in the proportion of teenage mothers. The proportion of older mothers declined until the late 1970s (from 16.5% to 3.4%) followed by a steady increase. Mean birthweight in all and term babies gradually increased from the mid 1970s. The increase in the percentage of preterm birth paralleled a two-fold increase in the percentage of caesarean section among preterm births during the last two decades. The gap between the most affluent and the most deprived groups of the population widened over the three decades.
Key maternal and fetal factors affecting birth outcomes, such as maternal age, parity, socioeconomic status, birthweight and gestational age, changed substantially during the 32-year period, from 1961 to 1992. The availability of accurate gestational age is extremely important for correct interpretation of trends in birthweight.
PMCID: PMC2542990  PMID: 18713457
25.  Earlier Mother's Age at Menarche Predicts Rapid Infancy Growth and Childhood Obesity 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(4):e132.
Early menarche tends to be preceded by rapid infancy weight gain and is associated with increased childhood and adult obesity risk. As age at menarche is a heritable trait, we hypothesised that age at menarche in the mother may in turn predict her children's early growth and obesity risk.
Methods and Findings
We tested associations between mother's age at menarche, mother's adult body size and obesity risk, and her children's growth and obesity risk in 6,009 children from the UK population-based Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) birth cohort who had growth and fat mass at age 9 y measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. A subgroup of 914 children also had detailed infancy and childhood growth data. In the mothers, earlier menarche was associated with shorter adult height (by 0.64 cm/y), increased weight (0.92 kg/y), and body mass index (BMI, 0.51 kg/m2/y; all p < 0.001). In contrast, in her children, earlier mother's menarche predicted taller height at 9 y (by 0.41 cm/y) and greater weight (0.80 kg/y), BMI (0.29 kg/m2/y), and fat mass index (0.22 kg/m2/year; all p < 0.001). Children in the earliest mother's menarche quintile (≤11 y) were more obese than the oldest quintile (≥15 y) (OR, 2.15, 95% CI 1.46 to 3.17; p < 0.001, adjusted for mother's education and BMI). In the subgroup, children in the earliest quintile showed faster gains in weight (p < 0.001) and height (p < 0.001) only from birth to 2 y, but not from 2 to 9 y (p = 0.3–0.8).
Earlier age at menarche may be a transgenerational marker of a faster growth tempo, characterised by rapid weight gain and growth, particularly during infancy, and leading to taller childhood stature, but likely earlier maturation and therefore shorter adult stature. This growth pattern confers increased childhood and adult obesity risks.
Earlier age at menarche may be a transgenerational marker of faster growth, particularly during infancy, leading to taller childhood stature but earlier maturation and hence shorter adult stature.
Editors' Summary
Childhood obesity is a rapidly growing problem. Twenty-five years ago, overweight children were rare. Now, 155 million of the world's children are overweight and 30–45 million are obese. Overweight and obese children—those having a higher than average body mass index (BMI; weight divided by height squared) for their age and sex—are at increased risk of becoming obese adults. Such people are more likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems than lean people. Many factors are involved in the burgeoning size of children. Parental obesity, for example, predisposes children to being overweight. In part, this is because parents influence the eating habits of their offspring and the amount of exercise they do. In addition, though, children inherit genetic factors from their parents that make them more likely to put on weight.
Why Was This Study Done?
To prevent childhood obesity, health care professionals need ways to predict which infants are likely to become obese so that they can give parents advice on controlling their children's weight. In girls, early menarche (the start of menstruation) is associated with an increased risk of childhood and adult obesity and tends to be preceded by rapid weight gain in the first two years of life. Because age at menarche is inherited, the researchers in this study have investigated whether mothers' age at menarche predicts rapid growth in infancy and childhood obesity in their offspring using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). In 1991–1992, this study recruited nearly 14,000 children born in Bristol, UK. Since then, the children have been regularly examined to investigate how their environment and genetic inheritance interact to affect their health.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers measured the growth and fat mass of 6,009 children from ALSPAC at 9 years of age. For 914 of these children, the researchers had detailed data on their growth during infancy and early childhood. They then looked for any associations between the mother's age at menarche (as recalled during pregnancy), mother's adult body size, and the children's growth and obesity risk. In the mothers, earlier menarche was associated with shorter adult height and increased weight and BMI. In the children, those whose mothers had earlier menarche were taller and heavier than those whose mothers had a later menarche. They also had a higher BMI and more body fat. The children whose mothers had their first period before they were 11 were twice as likely to be obese as those whose mothers did not menstruate until they were 15 or older. Finally, for the children with detailed early growth data, those whose mothers had the earliest menarche had faster weight and height gains in the first two years of life (but not in the next seven years) than those whose mothers had the latest menarche.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that earlier mother's menarche predicts a faster growth tempo (the speed at which an individual reaches their adult height) in their offspring, which is characterized by rapid weight and height gain during infancy. This faster growth tempo leads to taller childhood stature, earlier sexual maturity, and—because age at puberty determines adult height—shorter adult stature. An inherited growth pattern like this, the researchers write, confers an increased risk of childhood and adult obesity. As with all studies that look for associations between different measurements, these findings will be affected by the accuracy of the measurements—for example, how well the mothers recalled their age at menarche. Furthermore, because puberty, particularly in girls, is associated with an increase in body fat, a high BMI at age nine might indicate imminent puberty rather than a risk of long-standing obesity—further follow-up studies will clarify this point. Nevertheless, the current findings provide a new factor—earlier mother's menarche—that could help health care professionals identify which infants require early growth monitoring to avoid later obesity.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children has a description of the study and results to date
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on overweight and obesity (in English and Spanish)
US Department of Health and Human Services's program, Smallstep Kids, is an interactive site for children about healthy eating (in English and Spanish)
The International Obesity Taskforce has information on obesity and its prevention
The World Heart Federation's Global Prevention Alliance provides details of international efforts to halt the obesity epidemic and its associated chronic diseases
The Child Growth Foundation has information on childhood growth and its measurement
PMCID: PMC1876410  PMID: 17455989

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