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1.  Dynamics of Infant Gut Microbiota Are Influenced by Delivery Mode and Gestational Duration and Are Associated with Subsequent Adiposity 
mBio  2015;6(1):e02419-14.
ABSTRACT 
We found that the relatively simple microbiota of young infants shifts predictably to a more mature anaerobic microbiota during infancy and the dynamics of this shift are influenced by environmental factors. In this longitudinal study of 75 infants, we demonstrate high interindividual variability within the normal range of birth outcomes, especially in the rate of microbiota progression. Most had acquired a microbiota profile high in Bifidobacterium and Collinsella by 6 months of age, but the time point of this acquisition was later in infants delivered by caesarean section and those born after a shorter duration of gestation. Independently of the delivery mode and gestation duration, infants who acquired a profile high in Bifidobacterium and Collinsella at a later age had lower adiposity at 18 months of age.
IMPORTANCE  This study shows that the acquisition of the early microbiota is strongly influenced by environmental factors such as the delivery mode and duration of gestation, even in healthy neonates. The composition of the early microbiota has been linked with long-lasting effects on health and disease. Here we show that the rate of acquisition of certain microbiota predicts adiposity at 18 months of age and so potentially the risk of later obesity.
IMPORTANCE 
This study shows that the acquisition of the early microbiota is strongly influenced by environmental factors such as the delivery mode and duration of gestation, even in healthy neonates. The composition of the early microbiota has been linked with long-lasting effects on health and disease. Here we show that the rate of acquisition of certain microbiota predicts adiposity at 18 months of age and so potentially the risk of later obesity.
doi:10.1128/mBio.02419-14
PMCID: PMC4323417  PMID: 25650398
2.  Modifiable early-life risk factors for childhood adiposity and overweight: an analysis of their combined impact and potential for prevention1234 
Background: Early life may be a “critical period” when appetite and regulation of energy balance are programmed, with lifelong consequences for obesity risk. Insight into the potential impact of modifying early-life risk factors on later obesity can be gained by evaluating their combined effects.
Objective: The objective was to examine the relation between the number of early-life risk factors and obesity outcomes among children in a prospective birth cohort (Southampton Women's Survey).
Design: Five risk factors were defined: maternal obesity [prepregnant body mass index (BMI; in kg/m2) >30], excess gestational weight gain (Institute of Medicine, 2009), smoking during pregnancy, low maternal vitamin D status (<64 nmol/L), and short duration of breastfeeding (none or <1 mo). Obesity outcomes examined when the children were aged 4 and 6 y were BMI, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry–assessed fat mass, overweight, or obesity (International Obesity Task Force). Data were available for 991 mother-child pairs, with children born between 1998 and 2003.
Results: Of the children, 148 (15%) had no early-life risk factors, 330 (33%) had 1, 296 (30%) had 2, 160 (16%) had 3, and 57 (6%) had 4 or 5. At both 4 and 6 y, there were positive graded associations between number of early-life risk factors and each obesity outcome (all P < 0.001). After taking account of confounders, the relative risk of being overweight or obese for children who had 4 or 5 risk factors was 3.99 (95% CI: 1.83, 8.67) at 4 y and 4.65 (95% CI: 2.29, 9.43) at 6 y compared with children who had none (both P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Having a greater number of early-life risk factors was associated with large differences in adiposity and risk of overweight and obesity in later childhood. These findings suggest that early intervention to change these modifiable risk factors could make a significant contribution to the prevention of childhood obesity.
doi:10.3945/ajcn.114.094268
PMCID: PMC4307207  PMID: 25646335
adiposity; childhood obesity; early life; obesity; lifecourse; prevention
3.  The association between maternal blood pressures and offspring size at birth in Southeast Asian women 
Background
Maternal blood pressures in pregnancy is an important determinant of offspring size at birth. However, the relationship between maternal blood pressures and offspring’s size at birth is not consistent and may vary between ethnic groups. We examined the relationship between maternal peripheral and central blood pressures and offspring size at birth in an Asian multi-ethnic cohort, and effect modifications by maternal ethnicity and obesity.
Methods
We used data from 713 participants in the Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes study consisting of pregnant Chinese, Malay and Indian women recruited from two tertiary hospitals between 2009 to 2010. Peripheral systolic and diastolic blood pressures (SBP and DBP), and central SBP and pulse pressure (PP) were measured around 27 weeks of gestation. Biometric parameters at birth were collected from medical records.
Results
After adjusting for maternal and fetal covariates, each 1-SD increase (10.0 mmHg) in central SBP was inversely associated with birth weight (−40.52 g; 95% confidence interval (CI) -70.66 to −10.37), birth length (−0.19 cm; −0.36 to −0.03), head circumference (−0.12 cm; −0.23 to −0.02) and placental weight (−11.16 g; −20.85 to −1.47). A one-SD (11.1 mmHg) increase in peripheral SBP was also associated with lower birth weight (−35.56 g; −66.57 to −4.54). The inverse relations between other blood pressure measures and offspring size at birth were observed but not statistically significant. Higher peripheral SBP and DBP and central SBP were associated with increased odds of low birth weight (defined as weight <2500 g) and small for gestational age (defined as <10th percentile for gestational age adjusted birth weight). Maternal adiposity modified these associations, with stronger inverse associations in normal weight women. No significant interactions were found with ethnicity.
Conclusions
Higher second-trimester peripheral and central systolic pressures were associated with smaller offspring size at birth, particularly in normal weight women. Findings from this study reinforces the clinical relevance of antenatal blood pressure monitoring.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12884-014-0403-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12884-014-0403-1
PMCID: PMC4259008  PMID: 25444649
Pregnancy; Blood pressures; Obesity; Birth weight
4.  Assessing diets of 3 year old children: evaluation of a food frequency questionnaire 
Public health nutrition  2013;17(5):1069-1077.
Objective
To evaluate the use of an administered 80-item food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) to assess nutrient intake and diet quality in 3 year old children.
Design
Frequency of consumption and portion size of the foods listed on the FFQ during the 3 months preceding the interview were reported by the child’s main caregiver; after the interview a 2-day prospective food diary (FD) was completed on behalf of the child. Nutrient intakes from FFQ and FD were estimated using UK food composition data. Diet quality was assessed from the FFQ and FD, according to the child’s scores for a principal component analysis-defined dietary pattern (‘prudent’ pattern), characterised by high consumption of fruit, vegetables, water and wholemeal cereals.
Subjects
892 children aged 3 years in the Southampton Women’s Survey
Setting
Southampton, UK
Results
Intakes of all nutrients assessed by FFQ were higher than FD estimates, but there was reasonable agreement in terms of ranking of children (range for Spearman rank correlations for energy-adjusted nutrient intakes, rs=0.41 to 0.59). Prudent diet scores estimated from the FFQ and FD were highly correlated (r=0.72). Some family and child characteristics appeared to influence the ability of the FFQ to rank children, most notably the number of child’s meals eaten away from home.
Conclusion
The FFQ provides useful information to allow ranking of children at this age with respect to nutrient intake and quality of diet, but may overestimate absolute intakes. Dietary studies of young children need to consider family and child characteristics that may impact on reporting error associated with an FFQ.
doi:10.1017/S136898001300102X
PMCID: PMC3743718  PMID: 23635946
dietary assessment; young children; food frequency questionnaire
5.  Ethnic differences translate to inadequacy of high-risk screening for gestational diabetes mellitus in an Asian population: a cohort study 
Background
Universal and high-risk screening for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) has been widely studied and debated. Few studies have assessed GDM screening in Asian populations and even fewer have compared Asian ethnic groups in a single multi-ethnic population.
Methods
1136 pregnant women (56.7% Chinese, 25.5% Malay and 17.8% Indian) from the Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) birth cohort study were screened for GDM by 75-g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) at 26–28 weeks of gestation. GDM was defined using the World Health Organization (WHO) criteria. High-risk screening is based on the guidelines of the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.
Results
Universal screening detected significantly more cases than high-risk screening [crude OR 2.2 (95% CI 1.7-2.8)], particularly for Chinese women [crude OR = 3.5 (95% CI 2.5-5.0)]. Pre-pregnancy BMI > 30 kg/m2 (adjusted OR = 3.4, 95% CI 1.5-7.9) and previous GDM history (adjusted OR = 6.6, 95% CI 1.2-37.3) were associated with increased risk of GDM in Malay women while GDM history was the only significant risk factor for GDM in Chinese women (adjusted OR = 4.7, 95% CI 2.0-11.0).
Conclusion
Risk factors used in high-risk screening do not sufficiently predict GDM risk and failed to detect half the GDM cases in Asian women. Asian women, particularly Chinese, should be screened to avoid under-diagnosis of GDM and thereby optimize maternal and fetal outcomes.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-345) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-345
PMCID: PMC4190487  PMID: 25273851
Universal screening; High risk screening; Gestational diabetes; Asians; Ethnic
6.  Adjuvant radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy after surgery for uterine carcinosarcoma 
Background
Uterine carcinosarcomas are uncommon with about 35% not confined to the uterus at diagnosis. The survival of patients with advanced uterine carcinosarcoma is poor with pattern of failure indicating greater likelihood of upper abdominal and distant metastatic recurrence.
Objectives
To evaluate the effectiveness and safety of radiotherapy and/or systemic chemotherapy in the management of stage III-IV persistent or recurrent uterine carcinosarcoma.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Gynaecological Cancer Group Trials Register, CENTRAL, The Cochrane Library 2010, Issue 2, MEDLINE and EMBASE to May 2010. We also searched registers of clinical trials, abstracts of scientific meetings, reference lists of included studies and contacted experts in the field.
Selection criteria
Randomised controlled trials comparing adjuvant radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy in women with uterine carcinosarcoma.
Data collection and analysis
We independently abstracted data and assessed risk of bias. We pooled hazard ratios (HRs) for overall and progression-free survival and risk ratios (RRs) comparing adverse events in women who received radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy in meta-analyses.
Main results
Three trials (579 women, of whom all were assessed at the end of the trials) met the inclusion criteria. Two trials (373 women with stage III-IV persistent or recurrent disease) found that women who received combination therapy had a significantly lower risk of death and disease progression than women who received single agent ifosfamide. There was no statistically significant difference in all reported adverse events, with the exception of nausea and vomiting, which affected significantly more women in the combination therapy group than in the ifosamide group.
One trial found no statistically significant difference in the risk of death and disease progression in women who received whole abdominal irradiation and chemotherapy, after adjustment for age and FIGO stage (HR = 0.71, 95% CI 0.48 to 1.05 and HR = 0.79, 95% CI 0.53 to 1.18 for overall survival and progression-free survival respectively). There was no statistically significant difference in all reported adverse events, with the exception of haematological and neuropathy morbidities, which affected significantly fewer women in the whole body irradiation group than in the chemotherapy group (RR = 0.02, 95% CI 0.00 to 0.16).
Authors’ conclusions
The results of this review are limited to two trials. In the primary treatment/first line therapy of advanced stage metastatic uterine carcinosarcoma, as well as in recurrent disease, adjuvant combination chemotherapy with ifosfamide and paclitaxel should be considered. None of the included studies reported on quality of life.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006812.pub2
PMCID: PMC4161119  PMID: 21249682
Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating [therapeutic use]; Carcinosarcoma [*drug therapy;*radiotherapy;surgery]; Chemotherapy, Adjuvant [adverse effects; methods]; Ifosfamide [therapeutic use]; Radiotherapy, Adjuvant [adverse effects; methods]; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Uterine Neoplasms [*drug therapy;*radiotherapy;surgery]; Female; Humans
7.  Childhood bone mineral content is associated with methylation status of the RXRA promoter at birth 
Maternal vitamin D deficiency has been associated with reduced offspring bone mineral accrual. Retinoid-X Receptor-alpha (RXRA) is an essential cofactor in the action of 1,25(OH)2-vitamin D, and RXRA methylation in umbilical cord DNA has been associated with later offspring adiposity. We tested the hypothesis that RXRA methylation in umbilical cord DNA collected at birth is associated with offspring skeletal development, assessed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, in a population-based mother-offspring cohort (Southampton Women’s Survey). Relationships between maternal plasma 25(OH)-vitamin D concentrations and cord RXRA methylation were also investigated. In 230 children aged 4 years, higher % methylation at 4 out of 6 RXRA CpG sites measured was correlated with lower offspring % bone mineral content (%BMC) (β=−0.02 to −0.04%/SD, p=0.002 to 0.043) and BMC corrected for body size (β=−2.1 to −3.4g/SD, p=0.002 to 0.047), with a further site associated with %BMC only. Similar relationships for %BMC were observed in a second independent cohort (n=64). Maternal free 25(OH)-vitamin D index was negatively associated with methylation at one of these RXRA CpG sites (β=−3.3 SD/unit, p=0.03). In addition to the mechanistic insights afforded by associations between maternal free 25(OH)-vitamin D index, RXRA methylation in umbilical cord DNA, and childhood BMC, such epigenetic marks in early life might represent novel biomarkers for adverse bone outcomes in the offspring.
doi:10.1002/jbmr.2056
PMCID: PMC3836689  PMID: 23907847
Epigenetic; methylation; umbilical cord; RXRA; vitamin D; DXA
8.  Modeling Development in Retinal Afferents: Retinotopy, Segregation, and EphrinA/EphA Mutants 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104670.
During neural development, neurons extend axons to target areas of the brain. Through processes of growth, branching and retraction these axons establish stereotypic patterns of connectivity. In the visual system, these patterns include retinotopic organization and the segregation of individual axons onto different subsets of target neurons based on the eye of origin (ocular dominance) or receptive field type (ON or OFF). Characteristic disruptions to these patterns occur when neural activity or guidance molecule expression is perturbed. In this paper we present a model that explains how these developmental patterns might emerge as a result of the coordinated growth and retraction of individual axons and synapses responding to position-specific markers, trophic factors and spontaneous neural activity. This model derives from one presented earlier (Godfrey et al., 2009) but which is here extended to account for a wider range of phenomena than previously described. These include ocular dominance and ON-OFF segregation and the results of altered ephrinA and EphA guidance molecule expression. The model takes into account molecular guidance factors, realistic patterns of spontaneous retinal wave activity, trophic molecules, homeostatic mechanisms, axon branching and retraction rules and intra-axonal signaling mechanisms that contribute to the survival of nearby synapses on an axon. We show that, collectively, these mechanisms can account for a wider range of phenomena than previous models of retino-tectal development.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104670
PMCID: PMC4133250  PMID: 25122119
9.  Vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy: A systematic review 
1. ABSTRACT
Background
It is unclear whether the current evidence base allows definite conclusions to be made regarding the optimal maternal circulating concentration of 25(OH)-vitamin D during pregnancy, and how this might best be achieved. CRD42011001426.
Aim/ Research Questions
What are the clinical criteria for vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women?What adverse maternal and neonatal health outcomes are associated with low maternal circulating 25(OH)-vitamin D?Does maternal supplementation with vitamin D in pregnancy lead to an improvement in these outcomes (including assessment of compliance and effectiveness)?What is the optimal type (D2 or D3), dose, regimen and route for vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy?Is supplementation with vitamin D in pregnancy likely to be cost-effective?
Methods
We performed systematic review and where possible combined study results using meta-analysis to estimate the combined effect size.
Major electronic databases were searched up to June 2012 covering both published and grey literature. Bibliographies of selected papers were hand-searched for additional references. Relevant authors were contacted for any unpublished findings and additional data if necessary.
Inclusion and exclusion criteria
Subjects
Pregnant women or pregnant women and their offspring.
Exposure
Either assessment of vitamin D status (dietary intake, sunlight exposure, circulating 25(OH)-vitamin D concentration) or supplementation of participants with vitamin D or vitamin D containing food e.g. oily fish.
Outcomes
Offspring: Birth weight, birth length, head circumference, bone mass, anthropometry and body composition, risk of asthma and atopy, small for gestational dates, preterm birth, type 1 diabetes, low birth weight, serum calcium concentration, blood pressure and rickets. Mother: Preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, risk of caesarean section and bacterial vaginosis.
Results
76 studies were included. There was considerable heterogeneity between the studies and for most outcomes there was conflicting evidence.
The evidence base was insufficient to reliably answer question 1 in relation to biochemical or disease outcomes.
For questions 2 and 3, modest positive relationships were identified between maternal 25(OH)-vitamin D and 1) offspring birth weight in meta-analysis of 3 observational studies using log-transformed 25(OH)-vitamin D concentrations after adjustment for potential confounding factors (pooled regression coefficient 5.63g/10% change maternal 25(OH)D, 95% CI 1.11,10.16), but not in those 4 studies using natural units, or across intervention studies; 2) offspring cord blood or postnatal calcium concentrations in a meta-analysis of 6 intervention studies (all found to be at high risk of bias; mean difference 0.05mmol/l, 95% CI 0.02, 0.05); and 3) offspring bone mass in observational studies judged to be of good quality, but which did not permit meta-analysis.
The evidence base was insufficient to reliably answer questions 4 and 5.
Limitations
Study methodology varied widely in terms of study design, population used, vitamin D status assessment, exposure measured and outcome definition.
Conclusions
The evidence base is currently insufficient to support definite clinical recommendations regarding vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy. Although there is modest evidence to support a relationship between maternal 25(OH)-vitamin D status and offspring birth weight, bone mass and serum calcium concentrations, these findings were limited by their observational nature (birth weight, bone mass) or risk of bias and low quality (calcium concentrations). High quality randomised trials are now required.
doi:10.3310/hta18450
PMCID: PMC4124722  PMID: 25025896
10.  Association of early childhood abdominal circumference and weight gain with blood pressure at 36 months of age: secondary analysis of data from a prospective cohort study 
BMJ Open  2014;4(7):e005412.
Objectives
To assess whether changes in measures of fat distribution and body size during early life are associated with blood pressure at 36 months of age.
Design
Analysis of data collected from a prospective cohort study.
Setting
Community-based investigation in Southampton, UK.
Participants
761 children with valid blood pressure measurements, born to women participating in the Southampton Women’s Survey.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
Anthropometric measurements were collected at 0, 6, 12, 24 and 36 months and conditional changes between the time points calculated. Blood pressure was measured at 36 months. Factors possibly influencing the blood pressure were assessed using linear regression. All independent variables of interest and confounding variables were included in stepwise multiple regression to identify the model that best predicted blood pressure at 36 months.
Results
Greater conditional gains in abdominal circumference (AC) between 0–6 and 24–36 months were associated with higher systolic and diastolic blood pressures at 36 months (p<0.001). Subscapular skinfold and height gains were weakly associated with higher blood pressures, while greater weight gains between 0–6, 12–24 and 24–36 months were more strongly associated, but the dominant influences were AC gains, particularly from 0–6 to 24–36 months. Thus one SD score increases in AC between 0–6 and 24–36 months were associated with 1.59 mm Hg (95% CI 0.97 to 2.21) and 1.84 mm Hg (1.24 to 2.46) higher systolic blood pressures, respectively, and 1.04 mm Hg (0.57 to 1.51) and 1.02 mm Hg (0.56, 1.48) higher diastolic pressures, respectively.
Conclusions
Conditional gains in abdominal circumference, particularly within 6 months of birth and in the year preceding measurement, were more positively associated with blood pressure at 36 months than gains in other anthropometric measures. Above-average AC gains in early childhood may contribute to adult hypertension and increased cardiovascular disease risk.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005412
PMCID: PMC4091398  PMID: 24993768
EPIDEMIOLOGY
11.  Maternal antenatal vitamin D status and offspring muscle development: findings from the Southampton Women’s Survey 
The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism  2013;99(1):10.1210/jc.2013-3241.
Context
Maternal 25-hydroxy-vitamin D [25(OH)D] status in pregnancy has been associated with offspring bone development and adiposity. Vitamin D has also been implicated in postnatal muscle function but little is known about a role for antenatal 25(OH)D exposure in programming muscle development.
Objective
We investigated the associations between maternal plasma 25(OH)D status at 34 weeks gestation and offspring lean mass and muscle strength at 4 years of age.
Design and setting
A prospective UK population-based mother-offspring cohort: the Southampton Women’s Survey (SWS).
Participants
12583 non-pregnant women were initially recruited into SWS, of which 3159 had singleton pregnancies. 678 mother-child pairs were included in this analysis.
Main Outcomes Measured
At 4 years of age, offspring assessments included hand grip strength (Jamar Dynamometer) and whole body DXA (Hologic Discovery) yielding lean mass and %lean mass. Physical activity was assessed by 7-day accelerometry (Actiheart) in a subset of children (n=326).
Results
Maternal serum 25(OH)D concentration in pregnancy was positively associated with offspring height-adjusted hand grip strength (β=0.10 SD/SD, p=0.013), which persisted after adjustment for maternal confounding factors, duration of breastfeeding and child’s physical activity at 4 years (β=0.13 SD/SD, p=0.014). Maternal 25(OH)D was also positively associated with offspring %lean mass (β=0.11 SD/SD, p=0.006), but not total lean mass (β=0.06, p=0.15). This however did not persist after adjustment for confounding factors (β=0.09 SD/SD, p=0.11).
Conclusions
This observational study suggests that intrauterine exposure to 25(OH)D during late pregnancy might influence offspring muscle development through an effect primarily on muscle strength rather than muscle mass.
doi:10.1210/jc.2013-3241
PMCID: PMC3880861  PMID: 24178796
vitamin D; grip strength; muscle mass; fetal programming
13.  Prenatal Origins of Temperament: Fetal Growth, Brain Structure, and Inhibitory Control in Adolescence 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96715.
Objective
Individual differences in the temperamental dimension of effortful control are constitutionally based and have been associated with an adverse prenatal developmental environment, with structural brain alterations presenting a potential mechanism. We investigated this hypothesis for anatomically defined brain regions implicated in cognitive and inhibitory motor control.
Methods
Twenty-seven 15–16 year old participants with low, medium, or high fetal growth were selected from a longitudinal birth cohort to maximize variation and represent the full normal spectrum of fetal growth. Outcome measures were parent ratings of attention and inhibitory control, thickness and surface area of the orbitofrontal cortex (lateral (LOFC) and medial (MOFC)) and right inferior frontal gyrus (rIFG), and volumetric measures of the striatum and amygdala.
Results
Lower birth weight was associated with lower inhibitory control, smaller surface area of LOFC, MOFC and rIFG, lower caudate volume, and thicker MOFC. A mediation model found a significant indirect effect of birth weight on inhibitory control via caudate volume.
Conclusions
Our findings support a neuroanatomical mechanism underlying potential long-term consequences of an adverse fetal developmental environment for behavioral inhibitory control in adolescence and have implications for understanding putative prenatal developmental origins of externalizing behavioral problems and self-control.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096715
PMCID: PMC4011887  PMID: 24802625
14.  Prenatal development is linked to bronchial reactivity: epidemiological and animal model evidence 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:4705.
Chronic cardiorespiratory disease is associated with low birthweight suggesting the importance of the developmental environment. Prenatal factors affecting fetal growth are believed important, but the underlying mechanisms are unknown. The influence of developmental programming on bronchial hyperreactivity is investigated in an animal model and evidence for comparable associations is sought in humans. Pregnant Wistar rats were fed either control or protein-restricted diets throughout pregnancy. Bronchoconstrictor responses were recorded from offspring bronchial segments. Morphometric analysis of paraffin-embedded lung sections was conducted. In a human mother-child cohort ultrasound measurements of fetal growth were related to bronchial hyperreactivity, measured at age six years using methacholine. Protein-restricted rats' offspring demonstrated greater bronchoconstriction than controls. Airway structure was not altered. Children with lesser abdominal circumference growth during 11–19 weeks' gestation had greater bronchial hyperreactivity than those with more rapid abdominal growth. Imbalanced maternal nutrition during pregnancy results in offspring bronchial hyperreactivity. Prenatal environmental influences might play a comparable role in humans.
doi:10.1038/srep04705
PMCID: PMC3989559  PMID: 24740086
15.  Structural Connectivity Asymmetry in the Neonatal Brain 
NeuroImage  2013;75:187-194.
Asymmetry of the neonatal brain is not yet understood at the level of structural connectivity. We utilized DTI deterministic tractography and structural network analysis based on graph theory to determine the pattern of structural connectivity asymmetry in 124 normal neonates. We tracted white matter axonal pathways characterizing interregional connections among brain regions and inferred asymmetry in left and right anatomical network properties. Our findings revealed that in neonates, small-world characteristics were exhibited, but did not differ between the two hemispheres, suggesting that neighboring brain regions connect tightly with each other, and that one region is only a few paths away from any other region within each hemisphere. Moreover, the neonatal brain showed greater structural efficiency in the left hemisphere than that in the right. In neonates, brain regions involved in motor, language, and memory functions play crucial roles in efficient communication in the left hemisphere, while brain regions involved in emotional processes play crucial roles in efficient communication in the right hemisphere. These findings suggest that even at birth, the topology of each cerebral hemisphere is organized in an efficient and compact manner that maps onto asymmetric functional specializations seen in adults, implying lateralized brain functions in infancy.
doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.02.052
PMCID: PMC3959921  PMID: 23501049
cerebral asymmetry; structural connectivity network; diffusion tensor imaging; neonates; tractography
16.  A complex intervention to improve pregnancy outcome in obese women; the UPBEAT randomised controlled trial 
Background
Despite the widespread recognition that obesity in pregnant women is associated with adverse outcomes for mother and child, there is no intervention proven to reduce the risk of these complications. The primary aim of this randomised controlled trial is to assess in obese pregnant women, whether a complex behavioural intervention, based on changing diet (to foods with a lower glycemic index) and physical activity, will reduce the risk of gestational diabetes (GDM) and delivery of a large for gestational age (LGA) infant. A secondary aim is to determine whether the intervention lowers the long term risk of obesity in the offspring.
Methods/Design
Multicentre randomised controlled trial comparing a behavioural intervention designed to improve glycemic control with standard antenatal care in obese pregnant women.
Inclusion criteria; women with a BMI ≥30 kg/m2 and a singleton pregnancy between 15+0 weeks and 18+6 weeks’ gestation. Exclusion criteria; pre-defined, pre-existing diseases and multiple pregnancy. Randomisation is on-line by a computer generated programme and is minimised by BMI category, maternal age, ethnicity, parity and centre. Intervention; this is delivered by a health trainer over 8 sessions. Based on control theory, with elements of social cognitive theory, the intervention is designed to improve maternal glycemic control. Women randomised to the control arm receive standard antenatal care until delivery according to local guidelines. All women have a 75 g oral glucose tolerance test at 27+0- 28+6 weeks’ gestation.
Primary outcome; Maternal: diagnosis of GDM, according to the International Association of Diabetes in Pregnancy Study Group (IADPSG) criteria. Neonatal; infant LGA defined as >90th customised birth weight centile.
Sample size; 1546 women to provide 80% power to detect a 25% reduction in the incidence of GDM and a 30% reduction in infants large for gestational age.
Discussion
All aspects of this protocol have been evaluated in a pilot randomised controlled trial, with subsequent optimisation of the intervention. The findings of this trial will inform whether lifestyle mediated improvement of glycemic control in obese pregnant women can minimise the risk of pregnancy complications.
Trial registration
Current controlled trials; ISRCTN89971375.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-74
PMCID: PMC3938821  PMID: 24533897
Study protocol; Pregnancy; Obesity; Complex intervention; Randomised controlled trial; Glycemic index; Physical activity; Gestational diabetes; Large for gestational age
18.  Objectively measured physical activity in four-year-old British children: a cross-sectional analysis of activity patterns segmented across the day 
Background
Little is known about preschool-aged children’s levels of physical activity (PA) over the course of the day. Using time-stamped data, we describe the levels and patterns of PA in a population-based sample of four-year-old British children.
Methods
Within the Southampton Women’s Survey the PA levels of 593 4-year-old children (51% female) were measured using (Actiheart) accelerometry for up to 7 days. Three outcome measures: minutes spent sedentary (<20 cpm); in light (LPA: ≥20 – 399 cpm) and in moderate-to-vigorous activity (MVPA: ≥400 cpm) were derived. Average daily activity levels were calculated and then segmented across the day (morning, afternoon and evening). MVPA was log-transformed. Two-level random intercept models were used to analyse associations between activity level and temporal and demographic factors.
Results
Children were active for 67% (mean 568.5 SD 79.5 minutes) of their daily registered time on average, with 88% of active time spent in LPA. All children met current UK guidelines of 180 minutes of daily activity. There were no differences in children’s average daily levels of sedentary activity and LPA by temporal and demographic factors: differences did emerge when activity was segmented across the day. Sex differences were largest in the morning, with girls being more sedentary, spending fewer minutes in LPA and 18% less time in MVPA than boys. Children were more sedentary and less active (LPA and MVPA) in the morning if they attended childcare full-time compared to part-time, and on weekend mornings compared to weekdays. The reverse was true for weekend afternoons and evenings. Children with more educated mothers were less active in the evenings. Children were less sedentary and did more MVPA on summer evenings compared to winter evenings.
Conclusions
Preschool-aged children meet current physical activity guidelines, but with the majority of their active time spent in LPA, investigation of the importance of activity intensity in younger children is needed. Activity levels over the day differed by demographic and temporal factors, highlighting the need to consider temporality in future interventions. Increasing girls’ morning activity and providing opportunities for daytime activity in winter months may be worthwhile.
doi:10.1186/1479-5868-11-1
PMCID: PMC3896827  PMID: 24405936
19.  Validation of novel wheeze phenotypes using longitudinal airway function and atopic sensitisation data in the first 6 years of life: Evidence from the Southampton Women’s Survey. 
Pediatric pulmonology  2013;48(7):683-692.
Background
In 1995 the Tucson Children’s Respiratory Study (TCRS) identified clinically distinct phenotypes amongst early wheezers; the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents And Children (ALSPAC) has recently re-examined these.
Objectives
To validate statistically derived ALSPAC phenotypes in the Southampton Women’s Survey (SWS) using infant and 6 year lung function, and allergic sensitisation at 1, 3 and 6 years, comparing these with TCRS phenotypes.
Methods
Complete 6 year follow-up data were available for 926 children, selected from 1973 infants born to 12,579 women characterised pre-conception. 95 children had V’maxFRC and FEV0.4 measured age 5-14 weeks using rapid compression/raised volume techniques. At 6 years we performed spirometry (n=791), fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO, n=589) and methacholine challenge (n=234). Skin prick testing was performed at 12m, 3 and 6 years (n=1494, 1255, 699, respectively). Using wheeze status questionnaire data at 6m, 12m, 2, 3 and 6 years we classified children into TCRS (never, transient early, persistent, late-onset) and ALSPAC based groups (never, early, transient, intermediate-onset, late-onset, persistent).
Results
Amongst ALSPAC groups, persistent and late-onset wheeze were associated with atopy at 3 and 6 years, whilst intermediate-onset wheeze showed earlier atopic association at 1 year; all three were associated with FeNO at 6 years. Persistent wheezers had lower infant (V’maxFRC p<0.05) and 6 year lung function (FEV1, FEV1/FVC and FEF25-75, p<0.05), whilst late and intermediate-onset wheezers showed no lung function deficits. Transient wheezers were non-atopic but showed persistent lung function deficits (V’maxFRC in infancy, FEV1 and FEF25-75 at 6 years, all p<0.05). Those who wheezed only in the first year (early phenotype) showed no lung function deficits. No associations were seen with 6 years bronchial hyper-responsiveness or infancy FEV0.4.
Conclusion
SWS cohort data validates the statistically derived ALSPAC 6-class model. In particular, lung function and atopy successfully differentiate persistent, late-onset and intermediate-onset wheeze, whilst the Tucson ‘transient early’ wheeze phenotype can be sub-classified into groups that reflect early lung function. Since the 4-class model fails to adequately differentiate phenotypes based on lung function and atopy, we propose that strong consideration be given to using the 6-class paradigm for longitudinal outcome work in wheezing with onset in early life.
doi:10.1002/ppul.22766
PMCID: PMC3689612  PMID: 23401430
Wheeze; asthma; phenotype; lung function; cohort; atopy
20.  Fetal and infant growth predict hip geometry at six years old: Findings from the Southampton Women’s Survey 
Pediatric research  2013;74(4):450-456.
Background
We investigated relationships between early growth and proximal femoral geometry at age six years in a prospective population-based cohort, the Southampton Women’s Survey.
Methods
In 493 mother-offspring pairs we assessed linear size (individual measure dependent on developmental stage) using high-resolution ultrasound at 11, 19 and 34 weeks gestation (femur length) and at birth, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 years (crown-heel length/height). Standard deviation (SD)-scores were created and conditional regression modelling generated mutually independent growth variables. Children underwent hip DXA (Dual X-ray absorptiometry) at 6 years (Hologic Discovery, Hologic Inc., MA); hip structure analysis software yielded measures of geometry and strength.
Results
There were strong associations between early linear growth and femoral neck section modulus (Z) at 6 years, with the strongest relationships observed for femur growth from 19-34 weeks gestation (β=0.26 cm3/SD, p<0.0001), and for height growth from birth to 1 year (β=0.25 cm3/SD, p<0.0001) and 1-2 years (β=0.33 cm3/SD, p<0.0001), with progressively weaker relationships over years 3 (β=0.23 cm3/SD, p=0.0002) and 4 (β=0.10 cm3/SD, p=0.18).
Conclusions
These results demonstrate that growth before age 3 years predicts proximal femoral geometry at six years old. The data suggest critical periods in which there is capacity for long term influence on the later skeletal growth trajectory.
doi:10.1038/pr.2013.119
PMCID: PMC3797011  PMID: 23857297
21.  Different Indices of Fetal Growth Predict Bone Size and Volumetric Density at 4 Years of Age 
We have demonstrated previously that higher birth weight is associated with greater peak and later-life bone mineral content and that maternal body build, diet, and lifestyle influence prenatal bone mineral accrual. To examine prenatal influences on bone health further, we related ultrasound measures of fetal growth to childhood bone size and density. We derived Z-scores for fetal femur length and abdominal circumference and conditional growth velocity from 19 to 34 weeks’ gestation from ultrasound measurements in participants in the Southampton Women’s Survey. A total of 380 of the offspring underwent dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) at age 4 years [whole body minus head bone area (BA), bone mineral content (BMC), areal bone mineral density (aBMD), and estimated volumetric BMD (vBMD)]. Volumetric bone mineral density was estimated using BMC adjusted for BA, height, and weight. A higher velocity of 19- to 34-week fetal femur growth was strongly associated with greater childhood skeletal size (BA: r = 0.30, p < .0001) but not with volumetric density (vBMD: r = 0.03, p = .51). Conversely, a higher velocity of 19- to 34-week fetal abdominal growth was associated with greater childhood volumetric density (vBMD: r = 0.15, p = .004) but not with skeletal size (BA: r = 0.06, p = .21). Both fetal measurements were positively associated with BMC and aBMD, indices influenced by both size and density. The velocity of fetal femur length growth from 19 to 34 weeks’ gestation predicted childhood skeletal size at age 4 years, whereas the velocity of abdominal growth (a measure of liver volume and adiposity) predicted volumetric density. These results suggest a discordance between influences on skeletal size and volumetric density.
doi:10.1359/jbmr.091022
PMCID: PMC3793299  PMID: 20437610
EPIDEMIOLOGY; OSTEOPOROSIS; PROGRAMMING; DEVELOPMENTAL ORIGINS
22.  Maternal awareness of young children’s physical activity: levels and cross-sectional correlates of overestimation 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:924.
Background
Factors associated with parental awareness of children’s physical activity (PA) levels have not been explored in preschool-aged children. This paper investigates maternal awareness of preschool-aged children’s PA levels and determined correlates associated with maternal overestimation of PA.
Methods
Data from the Southampton Women’s Survey, a UK population-based study, were collected March 2006 through June 2009. Daily minutes of moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) were derived using accelerometry in 478 4-year-old children. Mothers who were realistic or overestimated their child’s PA were identified. Log-binomial regression was used to analyse correlates of maternal overestimation of PA levels in children whose mothers perceived them to be active (n = 438).
Results
40.8% of children were classified as inactive: 89.7% of these were perceived to be active by their mothers (over-estimators). These mothers were more likely to think their child sometimes lacked skills required to be physically active (RR (95% CI) = 1.29(1.03-1.63)) and their child was more likely to attend nursery full-time (RR = 1.53(1.14-2.04)). They were less likely to have older children at home (RR = 0.71(0.56-0.90)).
Conclusions
Almost 90% of mothers of inactive preschool-aged children perceive their child to be active. Nursery-school attendance and having older siblings at home may be important to consider when designing behavioural interventions to increase PA in preschool children.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-924
PMCID: PMC3852941  PMID: 24090173
Physical activity; Awareness; Preschool children
23.  THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MATERNAL ADIPOSITY AND INFANT WEIGHT GAIN AND CHILDHOOD WHEEZE AND ATOPY 
Thorax  2013;68(4):372-379.
Background
Obesity and asthma have increased in westernised countries. Maternal obesity may increase childhood asthma risk. If this relation is causal it may be mediated through factors associated with maternal adiposity, such as fetal development, pregnancy complications or infant adiposity. We investigated the relationships of maternal BMI and fat mass with childhood wheeze and examined the influences of infant weight gain and childhood obesity.
Methods
Maternal pre-pregnancy BMI and estimated fat mass (from skinfold thicknesses) were related to asthma, wheeze and atopy in 940 children. Transient or persistent/late wheeze was classified using questionnaire data collected at ages 6, 12, 24 and 36 months and 6 years. At 6 years, skin prick testing was conducted and exhaled nitric oxide and spirometry measured. Infant adiposity gain was calculated from skinfold thickness at birth and 6 months.
Results
Greater maternal BMI and fat mass were associated with increased childhood wheeze (RR 1.08 per 5 kg m−2, p=0.006; RR 1.09 per 10 kg, p=0.003); these reflected associations with transient wheeze (RR 1.11, p=0.003; RR 1.13, p=0.002, respectively) but not with persistent wheeze or asthma. Infant adiposity gain was associated with persistent wheeze but not significantly. Adjusting for infant adiposity gain or BMI at 3 or 6 years did not reduce the association between maternal adiposity and transient wheeze. Maternal adiposity was not associated with offspring atopy, exhaled nitric oxide, or spirometry.
Discussion
Greater maternal adiposity is associated with transient wheeze but not asthma or atopy, suggesting effects upon airway structure/function but not allergic predisposition.
doi:10.1136/thoraxjnl-2012-202556
PMCID: PMC3661999  PMID: 23291350
adiposity; body mass index; obesity; asthma; allergic sensitisation
24.  Physical activity intensity, sedentary time, and body composition in preschoolers123 
Background
Detailed associations between physical activity (PA) subcomponents, sedentary time, and body composition in preschoolers remain unclear.
Objective
We examined the magnitude of associations between objectively measured PA subcomponents and sedentary time with body composition in 4-y-old children.
Design
We conducted a cross-sectional study in 398 preschool children recruited from the Southampton Women’s Survey. PA was measured by using accelerometry, and body composition was measured by using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Associations between light physical activity, moderate physical activity (MPA), vigorous physical activity (VPA), and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) intensity; sedentary time; and body composition were analyzed by using repeated-measures linear regression with adjustment for age, sex, birth weight, maternal education, maternal BMI, smoking during pregnancy, and sleep duration. Sedentary time and PA were also mutually adjusted for one another to determine whether they were independently related to adiposity.
Results
VPA was the only intensity of PA to exhibit strong inverse associations with both total adiposity [P < 0.001 for percentage of body fat and fat mass index (FMI)] and abdominal adiposity (P = 0.002 for trunk FMI). MVPA was inversely associated with total adiposity (P = 0.018 for percentage of body fat; P = 0.022 for FMI) but only because of the contribution of VPA, because MPA was unrelated to fatness (P ≥ 0.077). No associations were shown between the time spent sedentary and body composition (P ≥ 0.11).
Conclusions
In preschoolers, the time spent in VPA is strongly and independently associated with lower adiposity. In contrast, the time spent sedentary and in low-to-moderate–intensity PA was unrelated to adiposity. These results indicate that efforts to challenge pediatric obesity may benefit from prioritizing VPA.
doi:10.3945/ajcn.112.045088
PMCID: PMC3785144  PMID: 23553158
25.  Correlates of Light and Moderate-to-Vigorous Objectively Measured Physical Activity in Four-Year-Old Children 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74934.
Background
Correlates of physical activity (PA) are hypothesized to be context and behaviour specific, but there is limited evidence of this in young children. The aim of the current study is to investigate associations between personal, social and environmental factors and objectively measured light and moderate-to-vigorous PA (LPA and MVPA, respectively) in four-year-old children.
Methods
Cross-sectional data were used from the Southampton Women’s Survey, a UK population-based longitudinal study. Four-year old children (n = 487, 47.0% male) had valid PA data assessed using accelerometry (Actiheart) and exposure data collected with a validated maternal questionnaire (including data on child personality, family demographics, maternal behaviour, rules and restrictions, and perceived local environment). Linear regression modelling was used to analyse associations with LPA and MVPA separately, interactions with sex were explored.
Results
LPA minutes were greater in children whose mothers reported more PA (vs. inactive: regression coefficient±standard error: 6.70±2.94 minutes), and without other children in the neighbourhood to play with (−6.33±2.44). MVPA minutes were greater in children with older siblings (vs. none: 5.81±2.80) and those whose mothers used active transport for short trips (vs. inactive: 6.24±2.95). Children accumulated more MVPA in spring (vs. winter: 9.50±4.03) and, in boys only, less MVPA with availability of other children in the neighbourhood (−3.98±1.70).
Discussion
Young children’s LPA and MVPA have differing associations with a number of social and environmental variables. Interventions targeting PA promotion in young children outside of formal care settings should consider including intensity specific factors.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074934
PMCID: PMC3764204  PMID: 24040365

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