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1.  Pregnancy-associated outcomes in women who spent some of their childhood looked after by local authorities: findings from the UK Millennium Cohort Study 
BMJ Open  2014;4(12):e005468.
There has been very little description of the health and social outcomes at pregnancy and early motherhood of girls who were previously looked after by local authorities. The objectives of this study were to compare the sociodemographic and health profiles of mothers who had spent time in a children's home or with foster parents as a child to mothers who had not. In particular, to examine associations between being looked after and the likelihood of smoking during pregnancy, birth weight, the presence of symptoms of maternal depression and the initiation of breastfeeding.
A retrospective cross-sectional study using the baseline questionnaire of the Millennium Cohort Study.
The UK.
A nationally representative study of 18 492 mothers of babies born in the UK during 2000–2002.
A history of spending time in a children's home or with foster parents.
Outcome measures
(1) Smoking during pregnancy; (2) low birth weight; (3) symptoms of maternal depression and (4) initiation of breastfeeding.
In univariable analyses, women who had been looked after by local authorities were significantly less likely to be of a higher social class, live in a high-income household or have achieved a high level of education. They were more likely to have a low-birthweight baby and be a single parent. In multivariable analyses, women who had been looked after by local authorities were more likely to smoke during pregnancy (adjusted OR 3.0 95% CI 2.14 to 4.3) and were more likely to have symptoms of depression (adjusted OR 1.98 95% CI 1.4 to 2.7) compared with women who had not been looked after.
Our results suggest that these women carry social disadvantage into motherhood, with the potential of continuing the cycle of deprivation. There is a case for increasing our attention on this group, which can be readily accessed by maternity and early years’ services.
PMCID: PMC4267074  PMID: 25510884
2.  The role of support and other factors in early breastfeeding cessation: an analysis of data from a maternity survey in England 
Although the majority of women in England initiate breastfeeding, approximately one third cease breastfeeding by six weeks and many of these women report they would like to have breastfed for longer.
Data from a survey of women ≥16 years who gave birth to singleton term infants in 2009 in England; questionnaires were completed approximately three months postnatally. Logistic regression was used to investigate the association between postnatal support and other factors, and breastfeeding cessation at 10 days and six weeks. Population attributable fractions (PAFs) were calculated to estimate the relative contribution of breastfeeding support factors to overall breastfeeding cessation at these two time points.
Of the 3840 women who initiated breastfeeding and reported timing of breastfeeding cessation, 13% had stopped by 10 days; and of the 3354 women who were breastfeeding at 10 days, 17% had stopped by six weeks. Socio-demographic factors (maternal age, ethnicity, country of birth, deprivation, education) and antenatal feeding intention were all independently associated with breastfeeding cessation at 10 days and six weeks. Women who did not receive feeding advice or support from a parent or peer support group, voluntary organisation, or breastfeeding clinic were more likely to stop breastfeeding by 10 days. Perceived active support and encouragement from midwives was associated with a lower odds of breastfeeding cessation at both 10 days and six weeks. Estimated PAFs suggest that 34-59% of breastfeeding cessations by 10 days could be avoided if more women in the study population received breastfeeding support.
Although multiple factors influence a mother’s likelihood of continuing breastfeeding, it is clear that socio-demographic factors are strongly associated with breastfeeding continuation. However, there is evidence that breastfeeding support, including that delivered by peer or lay support workers, may have an important role in preventing cessations in the first few weeks.
PMCID: PMC3939405  PMID: 24571566
Breastfeeding; Epidemiology; Public health; Socio-economic
3.  Factors associated with breastfeeding in England: an analysis by primary care trust 
BMJ Open  2013;3(6):e002765.
To identify the sociodemographic factors associated with variation in area-based breastfeeding in England; to calculate the predicted breastfeeding rates adjusted for sociodemographic variations.
Ecological analysis of routine data using random effects logistic regression.
All 151 primary care trusts (PCTs) in England 2010–2011.
Outcome measures
PCT level data on breastfeeding: initiation, any and exclusive breastfeeding at 6–8 weeks.
There was considerable variation in breastfeeding across PCTs (breastfeeding initiation mean 72%, range 39–93%; any breastfeeding at 6–8 weeks mean 45%, range 19–83%; exclusive breastfeeding at 6–8 weeks mean 32%, range 14–58%), with London PCTs reporting markedly higher rates. Maternal age was strongly associated with area-based breastfeeding, with a 4–6% increase in odds of breastfeeding associated with a unit increase in the percentage of older mothers. Outside London, the proportion of the local population from a Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) background, compared with those from a White British background, was associated with higher breastfeeding (1–3% increase in odds per unit increase in the proportion from a BME background). Area-based deprivation was associated with reduced odds of breastfeeding (21–32% reduced odds comparing most deprived quintile to least deprived quintile). Weaker associations were observed between sociodemographic factors and breastfeeding in London PCTs. Very few PCTs reported breastfeeding figures substantially above or below the national average, having adjusted for variations in sociodemographic factors.
Our results show striking associations between sociodemographic factors and breastfeeding at the area level, with much of the variation in breastfeeding rates explained by the sociodemographic profile. The sociodemographic context of breastfeeding is clearly important at the area level as well as the individual level. Our findings can be used to inform decision-making relating to local priorities and service provision.
PMCID: PMC3693424  PMID: 23794590
Breastfeeding; Public Health; Nutrition & Dietetics
4.  Increasing exclusive breast feeding 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2007;335(7620):574-575.
Interventions are effective but must be tailored to the specific setting
PMCID: PMC1989024  PMID: 17884866
5.  Low birthweight and subsequent emotional and behavioural outcomes in 12-year-old children in Soweto, South Africa: findings from Birth to Twenty 
Background The fetal origins hypothesis suggests that an adverse prenatal environment, indexed by low birthweight (LBW), may increase the risk of developing later disease. Recently the hypothesis has been extended to psychological outcomes, especially depression. The aim of this analysis was to test, for the first time in a developing country setting, the association between LBW and psychological symptoms, in Soweto, South Africa.
Methods A sample of 1029 children was drawn from Birth to Twenty, a longitudinal cohort followed from pregnancy to young adulthood. This sample completed the Youth Self Report at age 12 years, a validated psychological measure of behavioural and emotional adjustment. Scores were compared between LBW (<2500 g) and normal birthweight children using multivariate analysis with adjustment for potential birth and life events confounding factors.
Results No associations were found between LBW and total [adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.09, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.69–1.74], internalizing (adjusted OR 0.81, 95% CI 0.52–1.28) or externalizing profiles (adjusted OR 0.81, 95% CI 0.49–1.36). The only difference detected was for the internalizing sub-profile of Somatic Complaints (adjusted OR 2.02, 95% CI 1.21–3.38), which on subgroup analysis was greatest among females.
Conclusions We found no convincing evidence of an association between LBW and emotional and behavioural outcomes in 12-year olds in this sample in urban South Africa. To our knowledge, this is the first published assessment of this association in a developing world context.
PMCID: PMC2720398  PMID: 19433519
South Africa; birthweight; depression; fetal origins hypothesis; cohort studies
6.  Donor breast milk versus infant formula for preterm infants: systematic review and meta‐analysis 
To compare the effect of donor breast milk with infant formula in preterm infants. Separate comparisons with formula were made for donor breast milk that was: (1) given as a sole diet; (2) given as a supplement to mother's own breast milk; and (3) fortified with macronutrients and micronutrients. The main outcomes were death, necrotising enterocolitis (NEC), infection, growth and development.
Data sources
Electronic databases—Cochrane, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and HMIC: DH.
Review methods
Systematic review and meta‐analysis of trials and observational studies of preterm or low birthweight infants.
Seven studies (including five randomised controlled trials), all from the 1970s and 1980s, fulfilled the inclusion criteria. All studies compared the effect of sole donor breast milk with formula (combined n = 471). One of these also compared the effect of donor breast milk with formula given as a supplement to mother's own milk (n = 343). No studies examined fortified donor breast milk. A meta‐analysis based on three studies found a lower risk of NEC in infants receiving donor breast milk compared with formula (combined RR 0.21, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.76). Donor breast milk was associated with slower growth in the early postnatal period, but its long‐term effect is unclear.
Donor breast milk is associated with a lower risk of NEC and slower growth in the early postnatal period, but the quality of the evidence is limited. Further research is needed to confirm these findings and measure the effect of fortified or supplemented donor breast milk.
PMCID: PMC2675323  PMID: 16556615
review; meta‐analysis; breastfeeding; necrotising enterocolitis
7.  The impact of helminths on the response to immunization and on the incidence of infection and disease in childhood in Uganda: design of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, factorial trial of deworming interventions delivered in pregnancy and early childhood [ISRCTN32849447] 
Helminths have profound effects on the immune response, allowing long-term survival of parasites with minimal damage to the host. Some of these effects "spill-over", altering responses to non-helminth antigens or allergens. It is suggested that this may lead to impaired responses to immunizations and infections, while conferring benefits against inflammatory responses in allergic and autoimmune disease. These effects might develop in utero, through exposure to maternal helminth infections, or through direct exposure in later life.
To determine the effects of helminths and their treatment in pregnancy and in young children on immunological and disease outcomes in childhood.
The trial has three randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled interventions at two times, in two people: a pregnant woman and her child. Pregnant women are randomized to albendazole or placebo and praziquantel or placebo. At age 15 months their children are randomized to three-monthly albendazole or placebo, to continue to age five years. The proposed designation for this sequence of interventions is a 2 X 2(x2) factorial design.
Children are immunized with BCG and against polio, Diphtheria, tetanus, Pertussis, Haemophilus, hepatitis B and measles. Primary immunological outcomes are responses to BCG antigens and tetanus toxoid in whole blood cytokine assays and antibody assays at one, three and five years of age. Primary disease outcomes are incidence of malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea, tuberculosis, measles, vertical HIV transmission, and atopic disease episodes, measured at clinic visits and twice-monthly home visits. Effects on anaemia, growth and intellectual development are also assessed.
This trial, with a novel design comprising related interventions in pregnant women and their offspring, is the first to examine effects of helminths and their treatment in pregnancy and early childhood on immunological, infectious disease and allergic disease outcomes. The results will enhance understanding of both detrimental and beneficial effects of helminth infection and inform policy. Clinical Trials 2007; 4: 42–57.
PMCID: PMC2643383  PMID: 17327245
8.  A randomised controlled trial of the effects of albendazole in pregnancy on maternal responses to mycobacterial antigens and infant responses to bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) immunisation [ISRCTN32849447] 
Maternal schistosomiasis and filariasis have been shown to influence infant responses to neonatal bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) immunisation but the effects of maternal hookworm, and of de-worming in pregnancy, are unknown.
In Entebbe, Uganda, we conducted a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of a single dose of 400 mg of albendazole in the second trimester of pregnancy. Neonates received BCG. Interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) and interleukin (IL)-5 responses to a mycobacterial antigen (crude culture filtrate proteins (CFP) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis) were measured in a whole blood assay. We analysed results for binary variables using χ2 tests and logistic regression. We analysed continuous variables using Wilcoxon's tests.
Maternal hookworm was associated with reduced maternal IFN-γ responses to CFP (adjusted odds ratio for IFN-γ > median response: 0.14 (95% confidence interval 0.02–0.83, p = 0.021). Conversely, maternal hookworm was associated with subsequent increased IFN-γ responses in their one-year-old infants (adjusted OR 17.65 (1.20–258.66; p = 0.013)). Maternal albendazole tended to reduce these effects.
Untreated hookworm infection in pregnancy was associated with reduced maternal IFN-γ responses to mycobacterial antigens, but increased responses in their infants one year after BCG immunisation. The mechanisms of these effects, and their implications for protective immunity remain, to be determined.
PMCID: PMC1352364  PMID: 16371154
9.  Effects of gestational age at birth on health outcomes at 3 and 5 years of age: population based cohort study 
Objective To investigate the burden of later disease associated with moderate/late preterm (32-36 weeks) and early term (37-38 weeks) birth.
Design Secondary analysis of data from the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS).
Setting Longitudinal study of infants born in the United Kingdom between 2000 and 2002.
Participants 18 818 infants participated in the MCS. Effects of gestational age at birth on health outcomes at 3 (n=14 273) and 5 years (n=14 056) of age were analysed.
Main outcome measures Growth, hospital admissions, longstanding illness/disability, wheezing/asthma, use of prescribed drugs, and parental rating of their children’s health.
Results Measures of general health, hospital admissions, and longstanding illness showed a gradient of increasing risk of poorer outcome with decreasing gestation, suggesting a “dose-response” effect of prematurity. The greatest contribution to disease burden at 3 and 5 years was in children born late/moderate preterm or early term. Population attributable fractions for having at least three hospital admissions between 9 months and 5 years were 5.7% (95% confidence interval 2.0% to 10.0%) for birth at 32-36 weeks and 7.2% (1.4% to 13.6%) for birth at 37-38 weeks, compared with 3.8% (1.3% to 6.5%) for children born very preterm (<32 weeks). Similarly, 2.7% (1.1% to 4.3%), 5.4% (2.4% to 8.6%), and 5.4% (0.7% to 10.5%) of limiting longstanding illness at 5 years were attributed to very preterm birth, moderate/late preterm birth, and early term birth.
Conclusions These results suggest that health outcomes of moderate/late preterm and early term babies are worse than those of full term babies. Additional research should quantify how much of the effect is due to maternal/fetal complications rather than prematurity itself. Irrespective of the reason for preterm birth, large numbers of these babies present a greater burden on public health services than very preterm babies.
PMCID: PMC3291750  PMID: 22381676

Results 1-9 (9)