Epidemiological studies have shown that weaker grip strength in later life is associated with disability, morbidity, and mortality. Grip strength is a key component of the sarcopenia and frailty phenotypes and yet it is unclear how individual measurements should be interpreted. Our objective was to produce cross-sectional centile values for grip strength across the life course. A secondary objective was to examine the impact of different aspects of measurement protocol.
We combined 60,803 observations from 49,964 participants (26,687 female) of 12 general population studies in Great Britain. We produced centile curves for ages 4 to 90 and investigated the prevalence of weak grip, defined as strength at least 2.5 SDs below the gender-specific peak mean. We carried out a series of sensitivity analyses to assess the impact of dynamometer type and measurement position (seated or standing).
Our results suggested three overall periods: an increase to peak in early adult life, maintenance through to midlife, and decline from midlife onwards. Males were on average stronger than females from adolescence onwards: males’ peak median grip was 51 kg between ages 29 and 39, compared to 31 kg in females between ages 26 and 42. Weak grip strength, defined as strength at least 2.5 SDs below the gender-specific peak mean, increased sharply with age, reaching a prevalence of 23% in males and 27% in females by age 80. Sensitivity analyses suggested our findings were robust to differences in dynamometer type and measurement position.
This is the first study to provide normative data for grip strength across the life course. These centile values have the potential to inform the clinical assessment of grip strength which is recognised as an important part of the identification of people with sarcopenia and frailty.
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.
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.
892 children aged 3 years in the Southampton Women’s Survey
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.
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.
dietary assessment; young children; food frequency questionnaire
Unhealthy dietary patterns are associated with poorer lung function. It is not known whether this is due to low consumption of antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables, or is a consequence of higher intakes of harmful dietary constituents such as processed meat.
We examined the individual and combined associations of processed meat, fruit and vegetable consumption and dietary total antioxidant capacity (TAC) with lung function among 1551 men and 1391 women in the Hertfordshire Cohort Study, UK. Diet was assessed by food frequency questionnaire.
After controlling for confounders, processed meat consumption was negatively associated with forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC) and FEV1/FVC in men and women, while fruit and vegetable consumption and dietary TAC were positively associated with FEV1 and FVC, but not FEV1/FVC. In men the negative association between processed meat consumption and FEV1 was more marked in those who had low fruit and vegetable consumption (Pinteraction=0.035), and low dietary TAC (Pinteraction=0.025). The deficit in FEV1/FVC associated with processed meat consumption was larger in men who smoked (Pinteraction=0.022).
Higher processed meat consumption is associated with poorer lung function, especially in men who have lower fruit and vegetable consumption or dietary TAC, and among current smokers.
Dietary balance; total antioxidant capacity; fruit and vegetables; processed meat; lung function
The UK government's response to the obesity epidemic calls for action in communities to improve people's health behaviour. This study evaluated the effects of a community intervention on dietary quality and levels of physical activity of women from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Non-randomised controlled evaluation of a complex public health intervention.
527 women attending Sure Start Children's Centres (SSCC) in Southampton (intervention) and 495 women attending SSCCs in Gosport and Havant (control).
Training SSCC staff in behaviour change skills that would empower women to change their health behaviours.
Main outcomes dietary quality and physical activity. Intermediate outcomes self-efficacy and sense of control.
1-year post-training, intervention staff used skills to support behaviour change significantly more than control staff. There were statistically significant reductions of 0.1 SD in the dietary quality of all women between baseline and follow-up and reductions in self-efficacy and sense of control. The decline in self-efficacy and control was significantly smaller in women in the intervention group than in women in the control group (adjusted differences in self-efficacy and control, respectively, 0.26 (95% CI 0.001 to 0.50) and 0.35 (0.05 to 0.65)). A lower decline in control was associated with higher levels of exposure in women in the intervention group. There was a statistically significant improvement in physical activity in the intervention group, with 22.9% of women reporting the highest level of physical activity compared with 12.4% at baseline, and a smaller improvement in the control group. The difference in change in physical activity level between the groups was not statistically significant (adjusted difference 1.02 (0.74 to 1.41)).
While the intervention did not improve women's diets and physical activity levels, it had a protective effect on intermediate factors—control and self-efficacy—suggesting that a more prolonged exposure to the intervention might improve health behaviour. Further evaluation in a more controlled setting is justified.
complex public health intervention; behavour change; diet ; physical activity; self efficacy; sense of control
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.
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).
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).
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).
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.
vitamin D; grip strength; muscle mass; fetal programming
Previous pharmacokinetic trials suggested that 40 mg subcutaneous enoxaparin once daily provided inadequate thromboprophylaxis for intensive care unit patients. Critically ill patients with acute kidney injury are at increased risk of venous thromboembolism and yet are often excluded from these trials. We hypothesized that for critically ill patients with acute kidney injury receiving continuous renal replacement therapy, a dose of 1 mg/kg enoxaparin subcutaneously once daily would improve thromboprophylaxis without increasing the risk of bleeding. In addition, we seek to utilize urine output prior to discontinuing dialysis, and low neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin in dialysis-free intervals, as markers of renal recovery.
In a multicenter, double-blind randomized controlled trial in progress at three intensive care units across Denmark, we randomly assign eligible critically ill adults with acute kidney injury into a treatment (1 mg/kg enoxaparin subcutaneously once daily) or control arm (40 mg enoxaparin subcutaneously once daily) upon commencement of continuous renal replacement therapy.
We calculated that with 133 patients in each group, the study would have 80% power to show a 40% reduction in the relative risk of venous thromboembolism with 1 mg/kg enoxaparin, at a two-sided alpha level of 0.05. An interim analysis will be conducted after the first 67 patients have been included in each group.
Enrolment began in March 2013, and will continue for two years. The primary outcome is the occurrence of venous thromboembolism. Secondary outcomes include anti-factor Xa activity, bleeding, heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, filter lifespan, length of stay, ventilator free days, and mortality. We will also monitor neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin and urine volume to determine whether they can be used as prognostic factors for renal recovery.
Critically ill unit patients with acute kidney injury present a particular challenge in the provision of thromboprophylaxis. This study hopes to add to the growing evidence that the existing recommendation of 40 mg enoxaparin is inadequate and that 1 mg/kg is both safe and effective for thromboprophylaxis.
In addition, the study seeks to identify predictors of renal recovery allowing for the proper utilization of resources.
EU Clinical Trials Register: EudraCT number: 2012-004368-23, 25 September 2012.
Enoxaparin; Thromboprophylaxis; Critically ill patients; Anti-factor Xa activity; Deep vein thrombosis; Pulmonary embolism; Acute kidney injury; Continuous renal replacement therapy; Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin; Renal recovery
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.
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.
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).
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.
This paper presents data from the English Channel area of Britain and Northern France on the spatial distribution of Lower to early Middle Palaeolithic pre-MIS5 interglacial sites which are used to test the contention that the pattern of the richest sites is a real archaeological distribution and not of taphonomic origin. These sites show a marked concentration in the middle-lower reaches of river valleys with most being upstream of, but close to, estimated interglacial tidal limits. A plant and animal database derived from Middle-Late Pleistocene sites in the region is used to estimate the potentially edible foods and their distribution in the typically undulating landscape of the region. This is then converted into the potential availability of macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats) and selected micronutrients. The floodplain is shown to be the optimum location in the nutritional landscape (nutriscape). In addition to both absolute and seasonal macronutrient advantages the floodplains could have provided foods rich in key micronutrients, which are linked to better health, the maintenance of fertility and minimization of infant mortality. Such places may have been seen as ‘good (or healthy) places’ explaining the high number of artefacts accumulated by repeated visitation over long periods of time and possible occupation. The distribution of these sites reflects the richest aquatic and wetland successional habitats along valley floors. Such locations would have provided foods rich in a wide range of nutrients, importantly including those in short supply at these latitudes. When combined with other benefits, the high nutrient diversity made these locations the optimal niche in northwest European mixed temperate woodland environments. It is argued here that the use of these nutritionally advantageous locations as nodal or central points facilitated a healthy variant of the Palaeolithic diet which permitted habitation at the edge of these hominins’ range.
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.
EPIDEMIOLOGY; OSTEOPOROSIS; PROGRAMMING; DEVELOPMENTAL ORIGINS
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.
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.
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.
Greater maternal adiposity is associated with transient wheeze but not asthma or atopy, suggesting effects upon airway structure/function but not allergic predisposition.
adiposity; body mass index; obesity; asthma; allergic sensitisation
Our previous work found that perceived control over life was a significant predictor of the quality of diet of women of lower educational attainment. In this paper, we explore the influence on quality of diet of a range of psychological and social factors identified during focus group discussions, and specify the way this differs in women of lower and higher educational attainment. We assessed educational attainment, quality of diet, and psycho-social factors in 378 women attending Sure Start Children’s Centres and baby clinics in Southampton, UK. Multiple-group path analysis showed that in women of lower educational attainment, the effect of general self-efficacy on quality of diet was mediated through perceptions of control and through food involvement, but that there were also direct effects of social support for healthy eating and having positive outcome expectancies. There was no effect of self-efficacy, perceived control or outcome expectancies on the quality of diet of women of higher educational attainment, though having more social support and food involvement were associated with improved quality of diet in these women. Our analysis confirms our hypothesis that control-related factors are more important in determining dietary quality in women of lower educational attainment than in women of higher educational attainment.
educational attainment; diet; disadvantage; self-efficacy; perceived control
Little is known about whether patterns of growth are associated with altered respiratory and immune development. This study relates prenatal and infant growth patterns to wheeze and atopy at age 3 years
Birth weight and length were measured in 1548 children born at term. Conditional fetal head and abdominal circumference growth velocities were calculated from antenatal ultrasound measurements. Conditional postnatal growth velocities were calculated from infant weight, length and adiposity data. .Measures of size and conditional growth were related to parentally-reported infant and early childhood wheeze and to atopic status at age 3.
Atopy risk increased by 46% per standard deviation (SD) increase in abdominal circumference growth velocity from 11-19 weeks’ gestation but by 20% per SD decrease in abdominal growth velocity from 19-34 weeks (p=0.007 and p=0.011). Atopic wheeze risk increased by 20% per SD decrease in 19-34 week abdominal growth (p=0.046). Non-atopic wheeze risk increased by 10% per SD decrease in 11-19 week head circumference growth. Greater relative infant weight and adiposity gains were associated with both atopic and non-atopic wheeze.
Rapid growth during 11-19 weeks’ gestation followed by growth faltering is associated with atopy, suggesting that influences affecting fetal growth may also alter immune development. A lower early fetal growth trajectory is associated with non-atopic wheeze, possibly reflecting an association with smaller airways. An association between postnatal adiposity gain and wheeze may partly reflect prenatal influences that cause fetal growth to falter but are then followed by postnatal adiposity gain.
asthma; preschool-wheeze; allergic sensitisation; growth; nutrition
Studies exploring the relationship between prenatal vitamin D exposure and childhood asthma have yielded conflicting results. Higher vitamin D intake during pregnancy has been shown to lower the risk of childhood wheeze, yet a study of maternal late-pregnancy serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D suggested higher serum concentrations may be associated with increased childhood asthma.
To assess the relationship between mothers’ serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D status and asthma and wheeze phenotypes in their children at age 6 years. Secondly, to explore the relationship between maternal 25-hydroxyvitamin D status and objective measures of childhood atopy and lung function.
Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D was measured at 34 weeks’ gestation in the mothers of 860 children born at term. Wheeze was classified as either transient or persistent/late using questionnaire data collated from 6, 12, 24 and 36 months and 6 years. At 6 years spirometry was performed and atopic status was determined by skin prick testing, exhaled nitric oxide was measured in 451 and bronchial hyperresponsiveness in 216 children.
There were no significant associations between maternal late-pregnancy 25-hydroxyvitamin D status and either asthma or wheeze at age 6 years. Maternal vitamin D status was not associated with transient or persistent/late wheeze; no significant association was found between persistent/late wheeze when subdivided according to atopic status. No associations were found with skin sensitisation or lung function.
This study provides no evidence that exposure to higher concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in maternal serum during late pregnancy increases the risk of childhood asthma, wheeze or atopy.
asthma epidemiology; asthma; paediatric asthma
Little is known about food insecurity in the UK. The aims of this study were to assess the prevalence and factors associated with food insecurity in a UK cohort, and to examine whether the diets, reported health and anthropometry of young food insecure children differed from those of other children.
The Southampton Women’s Survey is a prospective cohort study in which detailed information about the diet, lifestyle and body composition of 3000 women was collected before and during pregnancy. Between 2002-2006, 1618 families were followed up when the child was 3 years old. Food insecurity was determined using the Household Food Security scale. The child’s height and weight were measured; diet was assessed by food frequency questionnaire.
4.6% of the households were food insecure. Food insecurity was more common in families where the mothers were younger, smokers, of lower social class, in receipt of financial benefits, and who had a higher deprivation score (all p<0.05). In comparison with other 3-year-old children, those living in food insecure households were likely to have worse parent-reported health and to have a diet of poorer quality, characterised by greater consumption of white bread, processed meat and chips, and by a lower consumption of vegetables (all p<0.05). They did not differ in height or body mass index.
Our data suggest that there are significant numbers of food insecure families in the UK. The poorer reported health and diets of young food insecure children have important implications for their development and lifelong health.
food insecurity; body composition; dietary quality; children
Critically ill patients are predisposed to venous thromboembolism. We hypothesized that higher doses of enoxaparin would improve thromboprophylaxis without increasing the risk of bleeding. Peak anti-factor Xa (anti-Xa) levels of 0.1 to 0.4 IU/ml reflect adequate thromboprophylaxis for general ward patients. Studies conducted in orthopaedic patients demonstrated a statistically significant relationship between anti-Xa levels and wound haematoma and thrombosis. Corresponding levels for critically ill patients may well be higher, but have never been validated in large studies.
Eighty critically ill patients weighing 50 to 90 kilograms were randomised in a double-blinded study to receive subcutaneous (sc) enoxaparin: 40 mg once daily (QD), 30 mg twice daily (BID), 40 mg BID, or 1 mg/kg QD, each administered for three days. Anti-Xa activity was measured at baseline, and daily at 4, 12, 16 and 24 hours post administration. Antithrombin, fibrinogen, and platelets were measured at baseline and twice daily thereafter.
Two patients were transferred prior to participation. On day 1, doses of 40 mg QD (n = 20) and 40 mg BID (n = 19) yielded mean peak anti-Xa of 0.20 IU/ml and 0.17 IU/ml respectively. A dose of 30 mg BID (n = 20) resulted in much lower levels (0.08 IU/ml). Patients receiving 1 mg/kg QD (n = 19) achieved near steady-state mean peak anti-Xa levels from day 1 (0.34 IU/ml). At steady state (day 3), mean peak anti-Xa levels of 0.13 IU/ml and 0.15 IU/ml were achieved with doses of 40 mg QD and 30 mg BID respectively. This increased significantly to 0.33 IU/ml and 0.40 IU/ml for doses of 40 mg BID and 1 mg/kg QD respectively. Thus anti-Xa response profiles differed significantly over the three days between enoxaparin treatment groups (P <0.0001). Doses of 40 mg BID and1 mg/kg QD enoxaparin yielded target anti-Xa levels for over 80% of the study period. There were no adverse effects.
Doses of 40 mg QD enoxaparin (Europe) or 30 mg BID (North America) yield levels of anti-Xa which may be inadequate for critically ill patients. A weight-based dose yielded the best anti-Xa levels without bioaccumulation, and allowed the establishment of near steady-state levels from the first day of enoxaparin administration.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN91570009.
Introduction: sarcopenia is associated with adverse health outcomes. The aim of this study was to describe the prevalence of sarcopenia in community-dwelling older people in the UK using the European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People (EWGSOP) consensus definition.
Methods: we applied the EWGSOP definition to 103 community-dwelling men participating in the Hertfordshire Sarcopenia Study (HSS) using both the lowest third of dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) lean mass (LM) and the lowest third of skin-fold-based fat-free mass (FFM) as markers of low muscle mass. We also used the FFM approach among 765 male and 1,022 female participants in the Hertfordshire Cohort Study (HCS). Body size, physical performance and self-reported health were compared in participants with and without sarcopenia.
Results: the prevalence of sarcopenia in HSS men (mean age 73 years) was 6.8% and 7.8% when using the lowest third of DXA LM and FFM, respectively. DXA LM and FFM were highly correlated (0.91, P < 0.001). The prevalence of sarcopenia among the HCS men and women (mean age 67 years) was 4.6% and 7.9%, respectively. HSS and HCS participants with sarcopenia were shorter, weighed less and had worse physical performance. HCS men and women with sarcopenia had poorer self-reported general health and physical functioning scores.
Conclusions: this is one of the first studies to describe the prevalence of sarcopenia in UK community-dwelling older people. The EWGSOP consensus definition was of practical use for sarcopenia case finding. The next step is to use this consensus definition in other ageing cohorts and among older people in a range of health-care settings.
sarcopenia; prevalence; EWGSOP consensus definition; muscle mass; fat-free mass; grip strength; gait speed; older people
Sarcopenia is the age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass and function. It is now recognised as a major clinical problem for older people and research in the area is expanding exponentially. One of the most important recent developments has been convergence in the operational definition of sarcopenia combining measures of muscle mass and strength or physical performance. This has been accompanied by considerable progress in understanding of pathogenesis from animal models of sarcopenia. Well-described risk factors include age, gender and levels of physical activity and this knowledge is now being translated into effective management strategies including resistance exercise with recent interest in the additional role of nutritional intervention. Sarcopenia is currently a major focus for drug discovery and development although there remains debate about the best primary outcome measure for trials, and various promising avenues to date have proved unsatisfactory. The concept of ‘new tricks for old drugs’ is, however, promising, for example, there is some evidence that the angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors may improve physical performance. Future directions will include a deeper understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms of sarcopenia and the application of a lifecourse approach to understanding aetiology as well as to informing the optimal timing of interventions.
sarcopenia; skeletal muscle; ageing; pathogenesis; diagnosis; exercise; nutrition; drug treatment; life course; epidemiology; older people
Malnutrition is common in older people in hospital and is associated with adverse clinical outcomes including increased mortality, morbidity and length of stay. This has raised concerns about the nutrition and diet of hospital in-patients. A number of factors may contribute to low dietary intakes in hospital, including acute illness and cognitive impairment among in-patients. The extent to which other factors influence intake such as a lack of help at mealtimes, for patients who require assistance with eating, is uncertain. This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of using trained volunteer mealtime assistants to help patients on an acute medical ward for older people at mealtimes.
The study design is quasi-experimental with a before (year one) and after (year two) comparison of patients on the intervention ward and parallel comparison with patients on a control ward in the same department. The intervention in the second year was the provision of trained volunteer mealtime assistance to patients in the intervention ward. There were three components of data collection that were repeated in both years on both wards. The first (primary) outcome was patients’ dietary intake, collected as individual patient records and as ward-level balance data over 24 hour periods. The second was clinical outcome data assessed on admission and discharge from both wards, and 6 and 12 months after discharge. Finally qualitative data on the views and experience of patients, carers, staff and volunteers was collected through interviews and focus groups in both years to allow a mixed-method evaluation of the intervention.
The study will describe the effect of provision of trained volunteer mealtime assistants on the dietary intake of older medical in-patients. The association between dietary intake and clinical outcomes including malnutrition risk, body composition, grip strength, length of hospital stay and mortality will also be determined. An important component of the study is the use of qualitative approaches to determine the views of patients, relatives, staff and volunteers on nutrition in hospital and the impact of mealtime assistance.
Trial registered with ClinicalTrials.gov NCTO1647204
Nutrition; Older; Volunteer; Mealtime assistance; Dietary intake; Hospital
Objective This study examined longitudinal relationships between maternal red-cell folate status and dietary intakes of vitamins B6, B12 and folate before and during pregnancy and subsequent postpartum depressive symptoms.
Study design and setting Within a cohort study of women aged 20–34 years (the Southampton Women's Survey) dietary data were obtained before pregnancy and at 11 and 34 weeks' gestation. Red-cell folate was measured before pregnancy and at 11 weeks' gestation. We derived relative risks of postpartum depressive symptoms using an Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) score of ≥ 13 administered from 6 months to 1 year postpartum.
Results No significant differences were found between those with postpartum depressive symptoms (n = 905) and those without (n = 1951) in relation to red-cell folate concentration or dietary intake of folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, before or during pregnancy. A prior history of mental illness (relative risk (RR) 1.83; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.53–2.19) was associated with postpartum depressive symptoms, and women who breastfed until 6 months were less likely to experience postpartum depressive symptoms (RR 0.68; 95% CI 0.55–0.84).
Conclusion This study suggests that folate status and dietary folate, B6 and B12 intakes before and during pregnancy are not associated with postpartum depressive symptoms. A history of mental illness, however, was a strong risk factor.
B-vitamin intake; folate status; postpartum depression
Variation in exposure to polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) might influence the development of atopy, asthma, and wheeze. This study aimed to determine whether differences in PUFA concentrations in maternal plasma phosphatidylcholine are associated with the risk of childhood wheeze or atopy. For 865 term-born children, we measured phosphatidylcholine fatty acid composition in maternal plasma collected at 34 weeks' gestation. Wheezing was classified using questionnaires at 6, 12, 24, and 36 months and 6 years. At age of 6 years, the children underwent skin prick testing, fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FENO) measurement, and spirometry. Maternal n-6 fatty acids and the ratio of n-3 to n-6 fatty acids were not associated with childhood wheeze. However, higher maternal eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, and total n-3 fatty acids were associated with reduced risk of non-atopic persistent/late wheeze (RR 0.57, 0.67 and 0.69, resp. P = 0.01, 0.015, and 0.021, resp.). Maternal arachidonic acid was positively associated with FENO (P = 0.024). A higher ratio of linoleic acid to its unsaturated metabolic products was associated with reduced risk of skin sensitisation (RR 0.82, P = 0.013). These associations provide some support for the hypothesis that variation in exposure to n-6 and n-3 fatty acids during pregnancy influences the risk of childhood wheeze and atopy.
Among primates, human neonates have the largest brains but also the highest proportion of body fat. If placental nutrient supply is limited, the fetus faces a dilemma: should resources be allocated to brain growth, or to fat deposition for use as a potential postnatal energy reserve? We hypothesised that resolving this dilemma operates at the level of umbilical blood distribution entering the fetal liver. In 381 uncomplicated pregnancies in third trimester, we measured blood flow perfusing the fetal liver, or bypassing it via the ductus venosus to supply the brain and heart using ultrasound techniques. Across the range of fetal growth and independent of the mother's adiposity and parity, greater liver blood flow was associated with greater offspring fat mass measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, both in the infant at birth (r = 0.43, P<0.001) and at age 4 years (r = 0.16, P = 0.02). In contrast, smaller placentas less able to meet fetal demand for essential nutrients were associated with a brain-sparing flow pattern (r = 0.17, p = 0.02). This flow pattern was also associated with a higher degree of shunting through ductus venosus (P = 0.04). We propose that humans evolved a developmental strategy to prioritize nutrient allocation for prenatal fat deposition when the supply of conditionally essential nutrients requiring hepatic inter-conversion is limited, switching resource allocation to favour the brain if the supply of essential nutrients is limited. Facilitated placental transfer mechanisms for glucose and other nutrients evolved in environments less affluent than those now prevalent in developed populations, and we propose that in circumstances of maternal adiposity and nutrient excess these mechanisms now also lead to prenatal fat deposition. Prenatal developmental influences play important roles in the human propensity to deposit fat.
Maternal nutrition during pregnancy has been linked with fetal brain development and psychopathology in the offspring. We examined for associations of maternal folate status and dietary intake during pregnancy with brain growth and childhood behavioural difficulties in the offspring.
In a prospective cohort study, maternal red blood cell folate (RCF) was measured at 14 weeks of pregnancy and total folate intake (TFI) from food and supplements was assessed in early and late pregnancy. The offspring’s head circumference and body weight were measured at birth and in infancy, and 100 mothers reported on children’s behavioural difficulties at a mean age of 8.75 years using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire.
Lower maternal RCF and TFI in early pregnancy were associated with higher childhood hyperactivity (RCF: beta = −.24; p = .013; TFI: beta = −.24; p = .022) and peer problems scores (RCF: beta = −.28; p = .004; TFI: beta = −.28; p = .009) in the offspring. Maternal gestational RCF was positively associated with head circumference at birth (adjusted for gestational age), and mediation analyses showed significant inverse indirect associations of RCF with hyperactivity/inattention and peer problems via fetal brain growth. Adjustment for mother’s smoking and drinking alcohol during pregnancy did not change the results.
Although the associations are small and residual confounding is possible, our data provide preliminary support for the hypothesis that lower folate status in early pregnancy might impair fetal brain development and affect hyperactivity/inattention and peer problems in childhood.
fetal programming; folate; behavioural difficulties; fetal brain growth; hyperactivity; peer problems
Intensive care unit (ICU) patients are predisposed to thromboembolism. Routine prophylactic anticoagulation is widely recommended. Low-molecular-weight heparins, such as enoxaparin, are increasingly used because of predictable pharmacokinetics. This study aims to determine the subcutaneous (SC) dose of enoxaparin that would give the best anti-factor Xa levels in ICU patients.
The 72 patients admitted to a mixed ICU at Odense University Hospital (OUH) in Denmark were randomised into four groups to receive 40, 50, 60, or 70 mg SC enoxaparin for a period of 24 hours. Anti-factor Xa activity (aFXa) was measured before, and at 4, 12, and 24 hours after administration. An AFXa level between 0.1 to 0.3 IU/ml was considered evidence of effective antithrombotic activity.
Median peak (4 hours after administration), aFXa levels increased significantly with an increase in enoxaparin dose, from 0.13 IU/ml at 40 mg, to 0.14 IU/ml at 50 mg, 0.27 IU/ml at 60 mg, and 0.29 IU/ml at 70 mg (P = 0.002). At 12 hours after administration, median aFXa levels were still within therapeutic range for those patients who received 60 mg (P = 0.02).
Our study confirmed that a standard dose of 40 mg enoxaparin yielded subtherapeutic levels of aFXa in critically ill patients. Higher doses resulted in better peak aFXa levels, with a ceiling effect observed at 60 mg. The present study seems to suggest inadequate dosage as one of the possible mechanisms for the higher failure rate of enoxaparin in ICU patients.
Recent studies have shown associations between size and body proportions at birth and health outcomes throughout the life cycle, but there are few data on how neonatal phenotype varies in different populations around the world.
Data from the UK, Finland, India, Sri Lanka, China, DR Congo, Nigeria and Jamaica (N=22 067) were used to characterise geographical differences in phenotype in singleton, liveborn newborns. Measurements included birthweight, placental weight, length, head, chest, abdominal and arm circumferences and skinfolds.
Neonates in Europe were the largest, followed by Jamaica, East Asia (China), then Africa and South Asia. Birthweight varied widely (mean values 2730g to 3570g), but in contrast, head circumference was similar in all except China (markedly smaller). The main difference in body proportions between populations was the head to length ratio, with small heads relative to length in China and large heads relative to length in South Asia and Africa.
These marked geographical differences in neonatal phenotype need to be considered when investigating determinants of fetal growth, and optimal phenotype for short-term and long-term outcomes.
Size at birth; body proportions; neonatal anthropometry; worldwide variation; fetal origins of adult disease