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1.  Evaluation of Health in Pregnancy grants in Scotland: a protocol for a natural experiment 
BMJ Open  2014;4(10):e006547.
A substantial proportion of low birth weight is attributable to the mother's cultural and socioeconomic circumstances. Early childhood programmes have been widely developed to improve child outcomes. In the UK, the Health in Pregnancy (HiP) grant, a universal conditional cash transfer of £190, was introduced for women reaching the 25th week of pregnancy with a due date on/or after 6 April 2009 and subsequently withdrawn for women reaching the 25th week of pregnancy on/or after 1 January 2011. The current study focuses on the evaluation of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the HiP grant.
Methods and analysis
The population under study will be all singleton births in Scotland over the periods of January 2004 to March 2009 (preintervention), April 2009 to April 2011 (intervention) and May 2011 to December 2013 (postintervention). Data will be extracted from the Scottish maternity and neonatal database. The analysis period 2004–2013 should yield over 585 000 births. The primary outcome will be birth weight among singleton births. Other secondary outcomes will include gestation at booking, booking before 25 weeks; measures of size and stage; gestational age at delivery; weight-for-dates, term at birth; birth outcomes and maternal smoking. The main statistical method we will use is interrupted time series. Outcomes will be measured on individual births nested within mothers, with mothers themselves clustered within data zones. Multilevel regression models will be used to determine whether the outcomes changed during the period in which the HiP grants was in effect. Subgroup analyses will be conducted for those groups most likely to benefit from the payments.
Ethics and dissemination
Approval for data collection, storage and release for research purpose has been given (6 May 2014, PAC38A/13) by the Privacy Advisory Committee. The results of this study will be disseminated through peer-reviewed publications in journals, national and international conferences.
PMCID: PMC4202003  PMID: 25324327
2.  Varying gestational age patterns in cesarean delivery: an international comparison 
While international variations in overall cesarean delivery rates are well documented, less information is available for clinical sub-groups. Cesarean data presented by subgroups can be used to evaluate uptake of cesarean reduction policies or to monitor delivery practices for high and low risk pregnancies based on new scientific evidence. We studied differences and patterns in cesarean delivery rates by multiplicity and gestational age in Europe and the United States.
This study used routine aggregate data from 17 European countries and the United States on the number of singleton and multiple live births with cesarean versus vaginal delivery by week of gestation in 2008. Overall and gestation-specific cesarean delivery rates were analyzed. We computed rate differences to compare mode of delivery (cesarean vs vaginal birth) between selected gestational age groups and studied associations between rates in these subgroups namely: very preterm (26–31 weeks GA), moderate preterm (32–36 weeks GA), near term (37–38 weeks GA), term (39–41 weeks GA) and post-term (42+ weeks GA) births, using Spearman’s rank tests.
High variations in cesarean rates for singletons and multiples were observed everywhere. Rates for singletons varied from 15% in The Netherlands and Slovenia, to over 30% in the US and Germany. In singletons, rates were highest for very preterm births and declined to a nadir at 40 weeks of gestation, ranging from 8.0% in Sweden and Norway, to 22.5% in the US. These patterns differed across countries; the average rate difference between very preterm and term births was 43 percentage points, but ranged from 14% to 61%. High variations in rate differences were also observed for near term versus term births. For multiples, rates declined by gestational age in some countries, whereas in others rates were similar across all weeks of gestation. Countries’ overall cesarean rates were highly correlated with gestation-specific subgroup rates, except for very preterm births.
Gestational age patterns in cesarean delivery were heterogeneous across countries; these differences highlight areas where consensus on best practices is lacking and could be used in developing strategies to reduce cesareans.
PMCID: PMC4177602  PMID: 25217979
Cesarean delivery (CD); Cross-national comparisons; Gestational age; Plurality; Mode of delivery; Euro-Peristat
3.  The Bronchiectasis Severity Index. An International Derivation and Validation Study 
Rationale: There are no risk stratification tools for morbidity and mortality in bronchiectasis. Identifying patients at risk of exacerbations, hospital admissions, and mortality is vital for future research.
Objectives: This study describes the derivation and validation of the Bronchiectasis Severity Index (BSI).
Methods: Derivation of the BSI used data from a prospective cohort study (Edinburgh, UK, 2008–2012) enrolling 608 patients. Cox proportional hazard regression was used to identify independent predictors of mortality and hospitalization over 4-year follow-up. The score was validated in independent cohorts from Dundee, UK (n = 218); Leuven, Belgium (n = 253); Monza, Italy (n = 105); and Newcastle, UK (n = 126).
Measurements and Main Results: Independent predictors of future hospitalization were prior hospital admissions, Medical Research Council dyspnea score greater than or equal to 4, FEV1 < 30% predicted, Pseudomonas aeruginosa colonization, colonization with other pathogenic organisms, and three or more lobes involved on high-resolution computed tomography. Independent predictors of mortality were older age, low FEV1, lower body mass index, prior hospitalization, and three or more exacerbations in the year before the study. The derived BSI predicted mortality and hospitalization: area under the receiver operator characteristic curve (AUC) 0.80 (95% confidence interval, 0.74–0.86) for mortality and AUC 0.88 (95% confidence interval, 0.84–0.91) for hospitalization, respectively. There was a clear difference in exacerbation frequency and quality of life using the St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire between patients classified as low, intermediate, and high risk by the score (P < 0.0001 for all comparisons). In the validation cohorts, the AUC for mortality ranged from 0.81 to 0.84 and for hospitalization from 0.80 to 0.88.
Conclusions: The BSI is a useful clinical predictive tool that identifies patients at risk of future mortality, hospitalization, and exacerbations across healthcare systems.
PMCID: PMC3977711  PMID: 24328736
bronchiectasis; mortality; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; exacerbation; prediction
4.  Phenotyping community-acquired pneumonia according to the presence of acute respiratory failure and severe sepsis 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):27.
Acute respiratory failure (ARF) and severe sepsis (SS) are possible complications in patients with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). The aim of the study was to evaluate prevalence, characteristics, risk factors and impact on mortality of hospitalized patients with CAP according to the presence of ARF and SS on admission.
This was a multicenter, observational, prospective study of consecutive CAP patients admitted to three hospitals in Italy, Spain, and Scotland between 2008 and 2010. Three groups of patients were identified: those with neither ARF nor SS (Group A), those with only ARF (Group B) and those with both ARF and SS (Group C) on admission.
Among the 2,145 patients enrolled, 45% belonged to Group A, 36% to Group B and 20% to Group C. Patients in Group C were more severe than patients in Group B. Isolated ARF was correlated with age (p < 0.001), COPD (p < 0.001) and multilobar infiltrates (p < 0.001). The contemporary occurrence of ARF and SS was associated with age (p = 0.002), residency in nursing home (p = 0.007), COPD (p < 0.001), multilobar involvement (p < 0.001) and renal disease (p < 0.001). 4.2% of patients in Group A died, 9.3% in Group B and 26% in Group C, p < 0.001. After adjustment, the presence of only ARF had an OR for in-hospital mortality of 1.85 (p = 0.011) and the presence of both ARF and SS had an OR of 6.32 (p < 0.001).
The identification of ARF and SS on hospital admission can help physicians in classifying CAP patients into three different clinical phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC4015148  PMID: 24593040
Pneumonia; Sepsis; Severe sepsis; Acute respiratory failure; ARDS; CAP; Community-acquired pneumonia; Mortality; Oxygenation
5.  Outcomes of Induction of Labour in Women with Previous Caesarean Delivery: A Retrospective Cohort Study Using a Population Database 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60404.
There is evidence that induction of labour (IOL) around term reduces perinatal mortality and caesarean delivery rates when compared to expectant management of pregnancy (allowing the pregnancy to continue to await spontaneous labour or definitive indication for delivery). However, it is not clear whether IOL in women with a previous caesarean section confers the same benefits. The aim of this study was to describe outcomes of IOL at 39–41 weeks in women with one previous caesarean delivery and to compare outcomes of IOL or planned caesarean delivery to those of expectant management.
Methods and Findings
We performed a population-based retrospective cohort study of singleton births greater than 39 weeks gestation, in women with one previous caesarean delivery, in Scotland, UK 1981–2007 (n = 46,176). Outcomes included mode of delivery, perinatal mortality, neonatal unit admission, postpartum hemorrhage and uterine rupture. 40.1% (2,969/7,401) of women who underwent IOL 39–41 weeks were ultimately delivered by caesarean. When compared to expectant management IOL was associated with lower odds of caesarean delivery (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] after IOL at 39 weeks of 0.81 [95% CI 0.71–0.91]). There was no significant effect on the odds of perinatal mortality but greater odds of neonatal unit admission (AOR after IOL at 39 weeks of 1.29 [95% CI 1.08–1.55]). In contrast, when compared with expectant management, elective repeat caesarean delivery was associated with lower perinatal mortality (AOR after planned caesarean at 39 weeks of 0.23 [95% CI 0.07–0.75]) and, depending on gestation, the same or lower neonatal unit admission (AOR after planned caesarean at 39 weeks of 0.98 [0.90–1.07] at 40 weeks of 1.08 [0.94–1.23] and at 41 weeks of 0.77 [0.60–1.00]).
A more liberal policy of IOL in women with previous caesarean delivery may reduce repeat caesarean delivery, but increases the risks of neonatal complications.
PMCID: PMC3615029  PMID: 23565242
6.  Cardiovascular disease and air pollution in Scotland: no association or insufficient data and study design? 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:227.
Coronary heart disease and stroke are leading causes of mortality and ill health in Scotland, and clear associations have been found in previous studies between air pollution and cardiovascular disease. This study aimed to use routinely available data to examine whether there is any evidence of an association between short-term exposure to particulate matter (measured as PM10, particles less than 10 micrograms per cubic metre) and hospital admissions due to cardiovascular disease, in the two largest cities in Scotland during the years 2000 to 2006.
The study utilised an ecological time series design, and the analysis was based on overdispersed Poisson log-linear models.
No consistent associations were found between PM10 concentrations and cardiovascular hospital admissions in either of the cities studied, as all of the estimated relative risks were close to one, and all but one of the associated 95% confidence intervals contained the null risk of one.
This study suggests that in small cities, where air quality is relatively good, then either PM10 concentrations have no effect on cardiovascular ill health, or that the routinely available data and the corresponding study design are not sufficient to detect an association.
PMCID: PMC3476376  PMID: 22440092
7.  Human L-Ficolin (Ficolin-2) and Its Clinical Significance 
Human L-ficolin (P35, ficolin-2) is synthesised in the liver and secreted into the bloodstream where it is one of the major pattern recognition molecules of plasma/serum. Like other ficolins, it consists of a collagen-like tail region linked to a fibrinogen-related globular head; a basic triplet subunit arises via a collagen-like triple helix, and this then forms higher multimers (typically a 12-mer, Mr 400K). Unlike other ficolins, it has a complex set of binding sites arranged within an internal cleft enabling it to recognise a variety of molecular patterns including acetylated sugars and certain 1,3-β-glucans. It is one of the few molecules known to activate the lectin pathway of complement. Recently, some disease association studies (at either the DNA or protein level) have implicated L-ficolin in innate immunity, where it might cooperate with pentraxins and collectins. Emerging lines of evidence point to a role for L-ficolin in respiratory immunity, where its affinity for Pseudomonas aeruginosa could be significant.
PMCID: PMC3303570  PMID: 22500076
8.  Population-based trends in pregnancy hypertension and pre-eclampsia: an international comparative study 
BMJ Open  2011;1(1):e000101.
The objective of this study was to compare international trends in pre-eclampsia rates and in overall pregnancy hypertension rates (including gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia).
Population data (from birth and/or hospital records) on all women giving birth were available from Australia (two states), Canada (Alberta), Denmark, Norway, Scotland, Sweden and the USA (Massachusetts) for a minimum of 6 years from 1997 to 2007. All countries used the 10th revision of the International Classification of Diseases, except Massachusetts which used the 9th revision. There were no major changes to the diagnostic criteria or methods of data collection in any country during the study period. Population characteristics as well as rates of pregnancy hypertension and pre-eclampsia were compared.
Absolute rates varied across the populations as follows: pregnancy hypertension (3.6% to 9.1%), pre-eclampsia (1.4% to 4.0%) and early-onset pre-eclampsia (0.3% to 0.7%). Pregnancy hypertension and/or pre-eclampsia rates declined over time in most populations. This was unexpected given that factors associated with pregnancy hypertension such as pre-pregnancy obesity and maternal age are generally increasing. However, there was also a downward shift in gestational age with fewer pregnancies reaching 40 weeks.
The rate of pregnancy hypertension and pre-eclampsia decreased in northern Europe and Australia from 1997 to 2007, but increased in Massachusetts. The use of a different International Classification of Diseases coding version in Massachusetts may contribute to the difference in trend. Elective delivery prior to the due date is the most likely explanation for the decrease observed in Europe and Australia. Also, the use of interventions that reduce the risk of pregnancy hypertension and/or progression to pre-eclampsia (low-dose aspirin, calcium supplementation and early delivery for mild hypertension) may have contributed to the decline.
Article summary
Article focus
The population prevalence of factors associated with increased and decreased risk of pregnancy hypertension and pre-eclampsia has changed over time, but the impact of these changes is unknown.
International comparisons of absolute population rates of pregnancy hypertension and pre-eclampsia are hindered by different diagnostic criteria and methods of data collection.
Comparing trends between countries overcomes the difficulties in comparing absolute rates.
Key message
Pregnancy hypertension and/or pre-eclampsia rates declined over time in northern Europe and Australia, but not Massachusetts (USA).
Declining hypertension rates were accompanied by a downward shift in gestational age with fewer pregnancies reaching term, the time when the pregnancy hypertension and pre-eclampsia are most likely to occur.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Strengths include numerous validation studies indicating that the hypertensive disorders are reliably reported in the population data sets used for the study and the consistency of trends across most countries.
Limitations include a different International Classification of Diseases coding version in Massachusetts and lack of available information on clinical interventions.
PMCID: PMC3191437  PMID: 22021762
Trends; pregnancy; pre-eclampsia; gestational hypertension; international classification of diseases; maternal medicine; obstetrics; hypertension; epidemiology; statistics; epidmiology; delivery; birth; infant mortality; information; public health; health economics; health policy; international health services; quality in healthcare; health and socio-economic inequalities; maternal and child health; statistics and research methods; parturition; preterm birth
9.  ICU admission and severity assessment in community-acquired pneumonia 
Critical Care  2009;13(3):156.
The past 15 years have seen major advances in our understanding of severity assessment in community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). Prognostic tools have been promoted to guide all major management decisions in CAP, including admission to the critical care unit. Several recent studies, including the study by Renaud and colleagues, have challenged us to re-evaluate how we consider severe CAP, a concept for which there is still no universally accepted definition. Existing severity scores such as the Pneumonia Severity Index and the CURB65 score are designed to predict 30-day mortality. As a result, they are heavily weighted by age and co-morbidity. They perform less well when predicting other outcomes such as requirement for ICU admission and are of limited use in the critical care environment. This commentary discusses recent attempts to develop useful severity criteria to guide the use of ICU resources in patients with severe CAP.
PMCID: PMC2717437  PMID: 19591640
10.  Incidence of oronasal haemorrhage in infancy presenting to general practice in the UK 
The frequency of oronasal haemorrhage in infancy was estimated from two national GP research databases (6% UK population). When a case was identified, other presentations in the child over the first year were available from one dataset. In the first year haemoptysis is rare. In contrast, epistaxis (7–20 cases of per 10 000 infants) was 10 times more common, and 14.3% of these infants had an injury at some other point in infancy, (four times greater than the general population). In general practice epistaxis may herald other trauma presentations, implying that such infants may be part of a high-risk group for injury.
PMCID: PMC2593537  PMID: 19068161
child abuse; child protection; epistaxis; haemoptysis; infant
11.  Contribution of smoking during pregnancy to inequalities in stillbirth and infant death in Scotland 1994-2003: retrospective population based study using hospital maternity records 
Objective To quantify the contribution of smoking during pregnancy to social inequalities in stillbirth and infant death.
Design Population based retrospective cohort study.
Setting Scottish hospitals between 1994 and 2003.
Participants Records of 529 317 singleton live births and 2699 stillbirths delivered at 24-44 weeks’ gestation in Scotland from 1994 to 2003.
Main outcome measures Rates of stillbirth and infant, neonatal, and post-neonatal death for each deprivation category (fifths of postcode sector Carstairs-Morris scores); contribution of smoking during pregnancy (“no,” “yes,” or “not known”) in explaining social inequalities in these outcomes.
Results The stillbirth rate increased from 3.8 per 1000 in the least deprived group to 5.9 per 1000 in the most deprived group. For infant deaths, the rate increased from 3.2 per 1000 in the least deprived group to 5.4 per 1000 in the most deprived group. Stillbirths were 56% more likely (odds ratio 1.56, 95% confidence interval 1.38 to 1.77) and infant deaths were 72% more likely (1.72, 1.50 to 1.97) in the most deprived compared with the least deprived category. Smoking during pregnancy accounted for 38% of the inequality in stillbirths and 31% of the inequality in infant deaths.
Conclusions Both tackling smoking during pregnancy and reducing infants’ exposure to tobacco smoke in the postnatal environment may help to reduce stillbirths and infant deaths overall and to reduce the socioeconomic inequalities in stillbirths and infant deaths perhaps by as much as 30-40%. However, action on smoking on its own is unlikely to be sufficient and other measures to improve the social circumstances, social support, and health of mothers and infants are needed.
PMCID: PMC2755727  PMID: 19797343
12.  The Effect of Changing Patterns of Obstetric Care in Scotland (1980–2004) on Rates of Preterm Birth and Its Neonatal Consequences: Perinatal Database Study 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(9):e1000153.
Jane Norman and colleagues analyzed linked perinatal surveillance data in Scotland and find that between 1980 and 2004 increases in spontaneous and medically induced preterm births contributed equally to the rising rate of preterm births.
Rates of preterm birth are rising worldwide. Studies from the United States and Latin America suggest that much of this rise relates to increased rates of medically indicated preterm birth. In contrast, European and Australian data suggest that increases in spontaneous preterm labour also play a role. We aimed, in a population-based database of 5 million people, to determine the temporal trends and obstetric antecedents of singleton preterm birth and its associated neonatal mortality and morbidity for the period 1980–2004.
Methods and Findings
There were 1.49 million births in Scotland over the study period, of which 5.8% were preterm. We found a percentage increase in crude rates of both spontaneous preterm birth per 1,000 singleton births (10.7%, p<0.01) and medically indicated preterm births (41.2%, p<0.01), which persisted when adjusted for maternal age at delivery. The greater proportion of spontaneous preterm births meant that the absolute increase in rates of preterm birth in each category were similar. Of specific maternal complications, essential and pregnancy-induced hypertension, pre-eclampsia, and placenta praevia played a decreasing role in preterm birth over the study period, with gestational and pre-existing diabetes playing an increasing role. There was a decline in stillbirth, neonatal, and extended perinatal mortality associated with preterm birth at all gestation over the study period but an increase in the rate of prolonged hospital stay for the neonate. Neonatal mortality improved in all subgroups, regardless of obstetric antecedent of preterm birth or gestational age. In the 28 wk and greater gestational groups we found a reduction in stillbirths and extended perinatal mortality for medically induced but not spontaneous preterm births (in the absence of maternal complications) although at the expense of a longer stay in neonatal intensive care. This improvement in stillbirth and neonatal mortality supports the decision making behind the 34% increase in elective/induced preterm birth in these women. Although improvements in neonatal outcomes overall are welcome, preterm birth still accounts for over 66% of singleton stillbirths, 65% of singleton neonatal deaths, and 67% of infants whose stay in the neonatal unit is “prolonged,” suggesting this condition remains a significant contributor to perinatal mortality and morbidity.
In our population, increases in spontaneous and medically induced preterm births have made equal contributions to the rising rate of preterm birth. Despite improvements in related perinatal mortality, preterm birth remains a major obstetric and neonatal problem, and its frequency is increasing.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Most pregnancies last about 40 weeks but increasing numbers of babies are being born preterm, before they reach 37 weeks of gestation (gestation is the period during which a baby develops in its mother). Nowadays in the US, for example, more than half a million babies arrive earlier than expected every year (1 in 8 babies). Although improvements in the care of newborn babies (neonatal care) mean that preterm babies are more likely to survive than in the past, preterm birth remains the single biggest cause of infant death in many developed countries, and many preterm babies who survive have long-term health problems and disabilities, particularly those born before 32 weeks of gestation. Preterm births can be spontaneous or medically induced. At present, it impossible to predict which mothers will spontaneously deliver early and there is no effective way to prevent these preterm births; medically induced early labor is undertaken when either the unborn baby or mother would be at risk if the pregnancy continued to full term.
Why Was This Study Done?
Preterm birth rates need to be reduced, but before this can be done it is important to know how the causes of preterm birth, the numbers of preterm stillbirths, and the numbers of preterm babies who die at birth (neonatal deaths) or soon after (perinatal deaths) are changing with time. If, for example, the rise in preterm births is mainly due to an increase in medically induced labor and if this change in practice has reduced neonatal deaths, it would be unwise to try to reduce the preterm birth rate by discouraging medically induced preterm births. So far, data from the US and Latin America suggest that the increase in preterm births in these countries is solely due to increased rates of medically induced preterm births. However, in Europe and Australia, the rate of spontaneous preterm births also seems to be increasing. In this study, the researchers examine the trends over time and causes of preterm birth and of neonatal death and illness in Scotland over a 25-year period.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
By searching a Scottish database of linked maternity records and infant health and death records, the researchers identified 1.49 million singleton births that occurred between 1980 and 2004 of which nearly 90,000 were preterm births. Over the study period, the rates of spontaneous and of medically induced preterm births per 1,000 births increased by 10.7% and 41.2%, respectively, but because there were more spontaneous preterm births than medically induced preterm births, the absolute increase in the rates of each type of birth was similar. Several maternal complications including preeclampsia (a condition that causes high blood pressure) and placenta previa (covering of the opening of the cervix by the placenta) played a decreasing role in preterm births over the study period, whereas gestational and preexisting diabetes played an increasing role. Finally, there was a decline in stillbirths and in neonatal and perinatal deaths among preterm babies, although more babies remained in the hospital longer than 7 days after birth. More specifically, after 28 weeks of gestation, stillbirths and perinatal deaths decreased among medically induced preterm births but not among spontaneous preterm births.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that in Scotland between 1980 and 2004, increases in spontaneous and medically induced preterm births contributed equally to the rising rate of preterm births. Importantly, they also show that the increase in induced preterm births helped to reduce stillbirths and neonatal and perinatal deaths, a finding that supports the criteria that clinicians currently use to decide whether to induce an early birth. Nevertheless, preterm births still account for two-thirds of all stillbirths, neonatal deaths, and extended neonatal stays in hospital and thus cause considerable suffering and greatly increase the workload in neonatal units. The rates of such births consequently need to be reduced and, for Scotland at least, ways will have to be found to reduce the rates of both spontaneous and induced preterm births to achieve this goal while continuing to identify those sick babies who need to be delivered early to give them the best chance of survival.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Tommys is a nonprofit organization that funds research and provides information on the causes and prevention of miscarriage, premature birth, and stillbirth
The March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health, provides information on preterm birth (in English and Spanish)
The Nemours Foundation, another nonprofit organization for child health, also provides information on premature babies (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on maternal and infant health (in English and Spanish)
The US National Women's Health Information Center has detailed information about pregnancy, including a section on pregnancy complications
MedlinePlus provides links to other information on premature babies and to information on pregnancy (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC2740823  PMID: 19771156
13.  Coronary heart disease mortality among young adults in Scotland in relation to social inequalities: time trend study 
Objective To examine recent trends and social inequalities in age specific coronary heart disease mortality.
Design Time trend analysis using joinpoint regression.
Setting Scotland, 1986-2006.
Participants Men and women aged 35 years and over.
Main outcome measures Age adjusted and age, sex, and deprivation specific coronary heart disease mortality.
Results Persistent sixfold social differentials in coronary heart disease mortality were seen between the most deprived and the most affluent groups aged 35-44 years. These differentials diminished with increasing age but equalised only above 85 years. Between 1986 and 2006, overall, age adjusted coronary heart disease mortality decreased by 61% in men and by 56% in women. Among middle aged and older adults, mortality continued to decrease fairly steadily throughout the period. However, coronary heart disease mortality levelled from 1994 onwards among young men and women aged 35-44 years. Rates in men and women aged 45-54 showed similar flattening from about 2003. Rates in women aged 55-64 may also now be flattening. The flattening of coronary heart disease mortality in younger men and women was confined to the two most deprived fifths.
Conclusions Premature death from coronary heart disease remains a major contributor to social inequalities. Furthermore, the flattening of the decline in mortality for coronary heart disease among younger adults may represent an early warning sign. The observed trends were confined to the most deprived groups. Marked deterioration in medical management of coronary heart disease seems implausible. Unfavourable trends in the major risk factors for coronary heart disease (smoking and poor diet) thus provide the most likely explanation for these inequalities.
PMCID: PMC2714675  PMID: 19602713
14.  Centile charts for birthweight for gestational age for Scottish singleton births 
Centile charts of birthweight for gestational age are used to identify low birthweight babies. The charts currently used in Scotland are based on data from the 1970s and require updating given changes in birthweight and in the measurement of gestational age since then.
Routinely collected data of 100,133 singleton births occurring in Scotland from 1998–2003 were used to construct new centile charts using the LMS method.
Centile charts for birthweight for sex and parity groupings were constructed for singleton birth and compared to existing charts used in Scottish hospitals.
Mean birthweight has been shown to have increased over recent decades. The differences shown between the new and currently used centiles confirm the need for more up-to-date centiles for birthweight for gestational age.
PMCID: PMC2268653  PMID: 18298810
20.  Outcomes of elective induction of labour compared with expectant management: population based study 
Objective To determine neonatal outcomes (perinatal mortality and special care unit admission) and maternal outcomes (mode of delivery, delivery complications) of elective induction of labour compared with expectant management.
Design Retrospective cohort study using an unselected population database.
Setting Consultant and midwife led obstetric units in Scotland 1981-2007.
Participants 1 271 549 women with singleton pregnancies of 37 weeks or more gestation.
Interventions Outcomes of elective induction of labour (induction of labour with no recognised medical indication) at 37, 38, 39, 40, and 41 weeks’ gestation compared with those of expectant management (continuation of pregnancy to either spontaneous labour, induction of labour or caesarean section at a later gestation).
Main outcome measures Extended perinatal mortality, mode of delivery, postpartum haemorrhage, obstetric anal sphincter injury, and admission to a neonatal or special care baby unit. Outcomes were adjusted for age at delivery, parity, year of birth, birth weight, deprivation category, and, where appropriate, mode of delivery.
Results At each gestation between 37 and 41 completed weeks, elective induction of labour was associated with a decreased odds of perinatal mortality compared with expectant management (at 40 weeks’ gestation 0.08% (37/44 764) in the induction of labour group versus 0.18% (627/350 643) in the expectant management group; adjusted odds ratio 0.39, 99% confidence interval 0.24 to 0.63), without a reduction in the odds of spontaneous vertex delivery (at 40 weeks’ gestation 79.9% (35 775/44 778) in the induction of labour group versus 73.7% (258 665/350 791) in the expectant management group; adjusted odds ratio 1.26, 1.22 to 1.31). Admission to a neonatal unit was, however, increased in association with elective induction of labour at all gestations before 41 weeks (at 40 weeks’ gestation 8.0% (3605/44 778) in the induction of labour group compared with 7.3% (25 572/350 791) in the expectant management group; adjusted odds ratio 1.14, 1.09 to 1.20).
Conclusion Although residual confounding may remain, our findings indicate that elective induction of labour at term gestation can reduce perinatal mortality in developed countries without increasing the risk of operative delivery.
PMCID: PMC3349781  PMID: 22577197
21.  Informing the ‘early years’ agenda in Scotland: understanding infant feeding patterns using linked datasets 
Providing infants with the ‘best possible start in life’ is a priority for the Scottish Government. This is reflected in policy and health promotion strategies to increase breast feeding, which gives the best source of nutrients for healthy infant growth and development. However, the rate of breast feeding in Scotland remains one of the lowest in Europe. Information is needed to provide a better understanding of infant feeding and its impact on child health. This paper describes the development of a unique population-wide resource created to explore infant feeding and child health in Scotland.
Descriptive and multivariate analyses of linked routine/administrative maternal and infant health records for 731 595 infants born in Scotland between 1997 and 2009.
A linked dataset was created containing a wide range of background, parental, maternal, birth and health service characteristics for a representative sample of infants born in Scotland over the study period. There was high coverage and completeness of infant feeding and other demographic, maternal and infant records. The results confirmed the importance of an enabling environment—cultural, family, health service and other maternal and infant health-related factors—in increasing the likelihood to breast feed.
Using the linked dataset, it was possible to investigate the determinants of breast feeding for a representative sample of Scottish infants born between 1997 and 2009. The linked dataset is an important resource that has potential uses in research, policy design and targeting intervention programmes.
PMCID: PMC3888626  PMID: 24129609
22.  Heterogeneity in ess transcriptional organization and variable contribution of the Ess/Type VII protein secretion system to virulence across closely related Staphylocccus aureus strains 
Molecular Microbiology  2014;93(5):928-943.
The Type VII protein secretion system, found in Gram-positive bacteria, secretes small proteins, containing a conserved W-x-G amino acid sequence motif, to the growth medium. Staphylococcus aureus has a conserved Type VII secretion system, termed Ess, which is dispensable for laboratory growth but required for virulence. In this study we show that there are unexpected differences in the organization of the ess gene cluster between closely related strains of S. aureus. We further show that in laboratory growth medium different strains of S. aureus secrete the EsxA and EsxC substrate proteins at different growth points, and that the Ess system in strain Newman is inactive under these conditions. Systematic deletion analysis in S. aureus RN6390 is consistent with the EsaA, EsaB, EssA, EssB, EssC and EsxA proteins comprising core components of the secretion machinery in this strain. Finally we demonstrate that the Ess secretion machinery of two S. aureus strains, RN6390 and COL, is important for nasal colonization and virulence in the murine lung pneumonia model. Surprisingly, however, the secretion system plays no role in the virulence of strain SA113 under the same conditions.
PMCID: PMC4285178  PMID: 25040609

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