Estimates of the effectiveness of influenza vaccines in older adults may be biased because of difficulties identifying and adjusting for confounders of the vaccine-outcome association. We estimated vaccine effectiveness for prevention of serious influenza complications among older persons by using methods to account for underlying differences in risk for these complications.
We conducted a retrospective cohort study among Ontario residents aged ≥65 years from September 1993 through September 2008. We linked weekly vaccination, hospitalization, and death records for 1.4 million community-dwelling persons aged ≥65 years. Vaccine effectiveness was estimated by comparing ratios of outcome rates during weeks of high versus low influenza activity (defined by viral surveillance data) among vaccinated and unvaccinated subjects by using log-linear regression models that accounted for temperature and time trends with natural spline functions. Effectiveness was estimated for three influenza-associated outcomes: all-cause deaths, deaths occurring within 30 days of pneumonia/influenza hospitalizations, and pneumonia/influenza hospitalizations.
During weeks when 5% of respiratory specimens tested positive for influenza A, vaccine effectiveness among persons aged ≥65 years was 22% (95% confidence interval [CI], −6%–42%) for all influenza-associated deaths, 25% (95% CI, 13%–37%) for deaths occurring within 30 days after an influenza-associated pneumonia/influenza hospitalization, and 19% (95% CI, 4%–31%) for influenza-associated pneumonia/influenza hospitalizations. Because small proportions of deaths, deaths after pneumonia/influenza hospitalizations, and pneumonia/influenza hospitalizations were associated with influenza virus circulation, we estimated that vaccination prevented 1.6%, 4.8%, and 4.1% of these outcomes, respectively.
By using confounding-reducing techniques with 15 years of provincial-level data including vaccination and health outcomes, we estimated that influenza vaccination prevented ∼4% of influenza-associated hospitalizations and deaths occurring after hospitalizations among older adults in Ontario.
Time series regression studies have been widely used in environmental epidemiology, notably in investigating the short-term associations between exposures such as air pollution, weather variables or pollen, and health outcomes such as mortality, myocardial infarction or disease-specific hospital admissions. Typically, for both exposure and outcome, data are available at regular time intervals (e.g. daily pollution levels and daily mortality counts) and the aim is to explore short-term associations between them. In this article, we describe the general features of time series data, and we outline the analysis process, beginning with descriptive analysis, then focusing on issues in time series regression that differ from other regression methods: modelling short-term fluctuations in the presence of seasonal and long-term patterns, dealing with time varying confounding factors and modelling delayed (‘lagged’) associations between exposure and outcome. We finish with advice on model checking and sensitivity analysis, and some common extensions to the basic model.
Time series; environmental epidemiology; air pollution
To examine the cross-sectional association between serum perfluorooctanate (PFOA), perfuorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS) concentrations with self-reported memory impairment in adults and the interaction of these associations with diabetes status.
Population-based in Mid-Ohio Valley, West Virginia following contamination by a chemical plant.
The C8 Health Project collected data and measured the serum level of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) of 21 024 adults aged 50+ years.
Primary outcome measure
Self-reported memory impairment as defined by the question ‘have experienced short-term memory loss?’
A total of 4057 participants self-reported short-term memory impairment. Inverse associations between PFOS and PFOA and memory impairment were highly statistically significant with fully adjusted OR=0.93 (95% CI 0.90 to 0.96) for doubling PFOS and OR=0.96 (95% CI 0.94 to 0.98) for doubling PFOA concentrations. Comparable inverse associations with PFNA and PFHxS were of borderline statistical significance. Inverse associations of PFAAs with memory impairment were weaker or non-existent in patients with diabetes than overall in patients without diabetes.
An inverse association between PFAA serum levels and self-reported memory impairment has been observed in this large population-based, cross-sectional study that is stronger and more statistically significant for PFOA and PFOS. The associations can be potentially explained by a preventive anti-inflammatory effect exerted by a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor agonist effect of these PFAAs, but confounding or even reverse causation cannot be excluded as an alternative explanation.
The two-stage time series design represents a powerful analytical tool in environmental epidemiology. Recently, models for both stages have been extended with the development of distributed lag non-linear models (DLNMs), a methodology for investigating simultaneously non-linear and lagged relationships, and multivariate meta-analysis, a methodology to pool estimates of multi-parameter associations. However, the application of both methods in two-stage analyses is prevented by the high-dimensional definition of DLNMs.
In this contribution we propose a method to synthesize DLNMs to simpler summaries, expressed by a reduced set of parameters of one-dimensional functions, which are compatible with current multivariate meta-analytical techniques. The methodology and modelling framework are implemented in R through the packages dlnm and mvmeta.
As an illustrative application, the method is adopted for the two-stage time series analysis of temperature-mortality associations using data from 10 regions in England and Wales. R code and data are available as supplementary online material.
Discussion and Conclusions
The methodology proposed here extends the use of DLNMs in two-stage analyses, obtaining meta-analytical estimates of easily interpretable summaries from complex non-linear and delayed associations. The approach relaxes the assumptions and avoids simplifications required by simpler modelling approaches.
Distributed lag models; Multivariate meta-analysis; Two-stage analysis; Time series
Background: Short-term exposure to ozone has been associated with increased daily mortality. The shape of the concentration–response relationship—and, in particular, if there is a threshold—is critical for estimating public health impacts.
Objective: We investigated the concentration–response relationship between daily ozone and mortality in five urban and five rural areas in the United Kingdom from 1993 to 2006.
Methods: We used Poisson regression, controlling for seasonality, temperature, and influenza, to investigate associations between daily maximum 8-hr ozone and daily all-cause mortality, assuming linear, linear-threshold, and spline models for all-year and season-specific periods. We examined sensitivity to adjustment for particles (urban areas only) and alternative temperature metrics.
Results: In all-year analyses, we found clear evidence for a threshold in the concentration–response relationship between ozone and all-cause mortality in London at 65 µg/m3 [95% confidence interval (CI): 58, 83] but little evidence of a threshold in other urban or rural areas. Combined linear effect estimates for all-cause mortality were comparable for urban and rural areas: 0.48% (95% CI: 0.35, 0.60) and 0.58% (95% CI: 0.36, 0.81) per 10-µg/m3 increase in ozone concentrations, respectively. Seasonal analyses suggested thresholds in both urban and rural areas for effects of ozone during summer months.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that health impacts should be estimated across the whole ambient range of ozone using both threshold and nonthreshold models, and models stratified by season. Evidence of a threshold effect in London but not in other study areas requires further investigation. The public health impacts of exposure to ozone in rural areas should not be overlooked.
concentration–response function; daily mortality; ozone; U.K. population
A seasonality of low birth weight (LBW) and preterm birth (PTB) has been described for most regions and there is evidence that this pattern is caused by ambient outdoor temperature. However, the association as such, the direction of effect and the critical time of exposure remain controversial.
Logistic, time-series regression was performed on nearly 300,000 births from two German states to study the association between season and daily mean temperature and changes in daily proportions of term LBW (tLBW) or PTB. Analyses were adjusted for time-varying factors. Temperature exposures were examined during different periods of pregnancy.
Weak evidence for an association between season of conception, season of birth or ambient outdoor temperature and tLBW or PTB was found. Results of analyses of temperature were not consistent between the two states. Different sources of bias which would have artificially led to stronger findings were detected and are described.
No clear evidence for an association between season of conception, season of birth or temperature and tLBW or PTB was found. In the study of pregnancy outcome different sources of bias can be identified which can potentially explain heterogeneous findings of the past.
Background: Animal studies suggest that some perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs), including perfluorooctanoate (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), and perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) may impair thyroid function. Epidemiological findings, mostly related to adults, are inconsistent.
Objectives: We investigated whether concentrations of PFAAs were associated with thyroid function among 10,725 children (1–17 years of age) living near a Teflon manufacturing facility in the Mid-Ohio Valley (USA).
Methods: Serum levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), total thyroxine (TT4), and PFAAs were measured during 2005–2006, and information on diagnosed thyroid disease was collected by questionnaire. Modeled in utero PFOA concentrations were based on historical information on PFOA releases, environmental distribution, pharmacokinetic modeling, and residential histories. We performed multivariate regression analyses.
Results: Median concentrations of modeled in utero PFOA and measured serum PFOA, PFOS, and PFNA were 12, 29, 20, and 1.5 ng/mL, respectively. The odds ratio for hypothyroidism (n = 39) was 1.54 [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.00, 2.37] for an interquartile range (IQR) contrast of 13 to 68 ng/mL in serum PFOA measured in 2005–2006. However, an IQR shift in serum PFOA was not associated with TSH or TT4 levels in all children combined. IQR shifts in serum PFOS (15 to 28 ng/mL) and serum PFNA (1.2 to 2.0 ng/mL) were both associated with a 1.1% increase in TT4 in children 1–17 years old (95% CIs: 0.6, 1.5 and 0.7, 1.5 respectively).
Conclusions: This is the first large-scale report in children suggesting associations of serum PFOS and PFNA with thyroid hormone levels and of serum PFOA and hypothyroidism.
children; PFAA; PFNA; PFOA; PFOS; T4; thyroid disease; thyroid hormones; TSH
Background: There are limited data on the associations between maternal or newborn and child exposure to perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs), including perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). This study provides an opportunity to assess the association between PFAA concentrations in mother–child pairs in a population exposed to PFOA via drinking water.
Objectives: We aimed to determine the relationship between mother–child PFAA serum concentrations and to examine how the child:mother ratio varies with child’s age, child’s sex, drinking-water PFOA concentration, reported bottled water use, and mother’s breast-feeding intention.
Methods: We studied 4,943 mother–child pairs (children, 1–19 years of age). The child:mother PFAA ratio was stratified by possible determinants. Results are summarized as geometric mean ratios and correlation coefficients between mother–child pairs, overall and within strata.
Results: Child and mother PFOA and PFOS concentrations were correlated (r = 0.82 and 0.26, respectively). Up to about 12 years of age, children had higher serum PFOA concentrations than did their mothers. The highest child:mother PFOA ratio was found among children ≤ 5 years (44% higher than their mothers), which we attribute to in utero exposure and to exposure via breast milk and drinking water. Higher PFOS concentrations in children persisted until at least 19 years of age (42% higher than their mothers). Boys > 5 years of age had significantly higher PFOA and PFOS child:mother ratios than did girls.
Conclusion: Concentrations of both PFOA and PFOS tended to be higher in children than in their mothers. This difference persisted until they were about 12 years of age for PFOA and at least 19 years of age for PFOS.
mother–child pairs; drinking water; in utero exposure; lactation; Mid-Ohio Valley; PFOA; PFOS; serum concentration
Heat waves have been linked with an increase in mortality, but the associated risk has been only partly characterized.
We examined this association by decomposing the risk for temperature into a “main effect” due to independent effects of daily high temperatures, and an “added” effect due to sustained duration of heat during waves, using data from 108 communities in USA during 1987-2000. We adopted different definitions of heat-wave days based on combinations of temperature thresholds and days of duration. The main effect was estimated through distributed lag non-linear functions of temperature, which account for non-linear delayed effects and short-time harvesting. We defined the main effect as the relative risk between the median city-specific temperature during heat-wave days and the 75th percentile of the year-round distribution. The added effect was defined first using a simple indicator, and then a function of consecutive heat-wave days. City-specific main and added effects were pooled through univariate and multivariate meta-analytic techniques.
The added wave effect was small (0.2%-2.8% excess relative risk, depending on wave definition) compared with the main effect (4.9%-8.0%), and was apparent only after 4 consecutive heat wave days.
Most of the excess risk with heat waves in the USA can be simply summarized as the independent effects of individual days’ temperatures. A smaller added effect arises in heat waves lasting more than 4 days.
The 2003 heat wave had a high impact on mortality in Europe, which made necessary to develop heat health watch warning systems. In Spain this was carried-out by the Ministry of Health in 2004, being based on exceeding of city-specific simultaneous thresholds of minimum and maximum daily temperatures. The aim of this study is to assess effectiveness of the official thresholds established by the Ministry of Health for each provincial capital city, by quantifying and comparing the short-term effects of above-threshold days on total daily mortality.
Total daily mortality and minimum and maximum temperatures for the 52 capitals of province in Spain were collected during summer months (June to September) for the study period 1995-2004. Data was analysed using GEE for Poisson regression. Relative Risk (RR) of total daily mortality was quantified for the current day of official thresholds exceeded.
The number of days in which the thresholds were exceeded show great inconsistency, with provinces with great number of exceeded days adjacent to provinces that did not exceed or rarely exceeded. The average overall excess risk of dying during an extreme heat day was about 25% (RR = 1.24; 95% confidence interval (CI) = [1.19-1.30]). Relative risks showed a significant heterogeneity between cities (I2 = 54.9%). Western situation and low mean summer temperatures were associated with higher relative risks, suggesting thresholds may have been set too high in these areas.
This study confirmed that extreme heat days have a considerable impact on total daily mortality in Spain. Official thresholds gave consistent relative risk in the large capital cities. However, in some other cities thresholds
Limited evidence suggests that being flooded may increase mortality and morbidity among affected householders not just at the time of the flood but for months afterwards. The objective of this study is to explore the methods for quantifying such long-term health effects of flooding by analysis of routine mortality registrations in England and Wales.
Mortality data, geo-referenced by postcode of residence, were linked to a national database of flood events for 1994 to 2005. The ratio of mortality in the post-flood year to that in the pre-flood year within flooded postcodes was compared with that in non-flooded boundary areas (within 5 km of a flood). Further analyses compared the observed number of flood-area deaths in the year after flooding with the number expected from analysis of mortality trends stratified by region, age-group, sex, deprivation group and urban-rural status.
Among the 319 recorded floods, there were 771 deaths in the year before flooding and 693 deaths in the year after (post-/pre-flood ratio of 0.90, 95% CI 0.82, 1.00). This ratio did not vary substantially by age, sex, population density or deprivation. A similar post-flood 'deficit' of deaths was suggested by the analyses based on observed/expected deaths.
The observed post-flood 'deficit' of deaths is counter-intuitive and difficult to interpret because of the possible influence of population displacement caused by flooding. The bias that might arise from such displacement remains unquantified but has important implications for future studies that use place of residence as a marker of exposure.
There is growing concern that moderate levels of outdoor air pollution may be associated with infant mortality, representing substantial loss of life‐years. To date, there has been no investigation of the effects of outdoor pollution on infant mortality in the UK.
Daily time‐series data of air pollution and all infant deaths between 1990 and 2000 in 10 major cities of England: Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield, were analysed. City‐specific estimates were pooled across cities in a fixed‐effects meta‐regression to provide a mean estimate.
Few associations were observed between infant deaths and most pollutants studied. The exception was sulphur dioxide (SO2), of which a 10 μg/m3 increase was associated with a RR of 1.02 (95% CI 1.01 to 1.04) in all infant deaths. The effect was present in both neonatal and postneonatal deaths.
Continuing reductions in SO2 levels in the UK may yield additional health benefits for infants.
First, we present a general analytical approach to estimating the association between medium-term changes in air pollution and health across small areas. As a specific illustration, we then applied the approach to data on London residents from a 4-year period to test whether reductions in traffic-related air pollution were associated with reductions in cardio-respiratory hospital admissions.
A binomial distribution was used to model change in admissions over time in each small area, which was measured as the proportion of admissions in 2003–2004 out of admissions over all study years (2001–2004). Annual average concentrations of nitrogen oxides (NOx) were modelled using an emissions-dispersion model. The association between change in NOx and change in hospital admissions was estimated using logistic regression and an instrumental variable approach.
For some diagnostic groups, suggestive associations between reductions in NOx and reductions in admissions were observed, for example, OR=0.97 (95% CI 0.96 to 0.99) for an IQR decrease in NOx (3 μg/m3) and all respiratory admissions. Accounting for spatial dependence attenuated several of the associations; for respiratory admissions, the OR was 1.00 (95% CI 0.98 to 1.02), leaving only that for bronchiolitis significant (OR=0.91; 95% CI 0.84 to 0.99). In this particular illustration, the instrumental variable approach did not appear to add information.
In this illustration, there was relatively limited power to detect an association between changes in air pollution and hospital admissions over time. However, the analytical approach could deliver more robust estimates of the health effects of changes in air pollution in settings with greater spatial contrast in changes in air pollution over time.
Air pollution; hospitalisation; methods; epidemiology; mathematical models
We describe a project to quantify the burden of heat and ozone on mortality in the UK, both for the present-day and under future emission scenarios.
Mortality burdens attributable to heat and ozone exposure are estimated by combination of climate-chemistry modelling and epidemiological risk assessment. Weather forecasting models (WRF) are used to simulate the driving meteorology for the EMEP4UK chemistry transport model at 5 km by 5 km horizontal resolution across the UK; the coupled WRF-EMEP4UK model is used to simulate daily surface temperature and ozone concentrations for the years 2003, 2005 and 2006, and for future emission scenarios. The outputs of these models are combined with evidence on the ozone-mortality and heat-mortality relationships derived from epidemiological analyses (time series regressions) of daily mortality in 15 UK conurbations, 1993-2003, to quantify present-day health burdens.
During the August 2003 heatwave period, elevated ozone concentrations > 200 μg m-3 were measured at sites in London and elsewhere. This and other ozone photochemical episodes cause breaches of the UK air quality objective for ozone. Simulations performed with WRF-EMEP4UK reproduce the August 2003 heatwave temperatures and ozone concentrations. There remains day-to-day variability in the high ozone concentrations during the heatwave period, which on some days may be explained by ozone import from the European continent.
Preliminary calculations using extended time series of spatially-resolved WRF-EMEP4UK model output suggest that in the summers (May to September) of 2003, 2005 & 2006 over 6000 deaths were attributable to ozone and around 5000 to heat in England and Wales. The regional variation in these deaths appears greater for heat-related than for ozone-related burdens.
Changes in UK health burdens due to a range of future emission scenarios will be quantified. These future emissions scenarios span a range of possible futures from assuming current air quality legislation is fully implemented, to a more optimistic case with maximum feasible reductions, through to a more pessimistic case with continued strong economic growth and minimal implementation of air quality legislation.
Elevated surface ozone concentrations during the 2003 heatwave period led to exceedences of the current UK air quality objective standards. A coupled climate-chemistry model is able to reproduce these temperature and ozone extremes. By combining model simulations of surface temperature and ozone with ozone-heat-mortality relationships derived from an epidemiological regression model, we estimate present-day and future health burdens across the UK. Future air quality legislation may need to consider the risk of increases in future heatwaves.
Objective To quantify the effect of the introduction of 20 mph (32 km an hour) traffic speed zones on road collisions, injuries, and fatalities in London.
Design Observational study based on analysis of geographically coded police data on road casualties, 1986-2006. Analyses were made of longitudinal changes in counts of road injuries within each of 119 029 road segments with at least one casualty with conditional fixed effects Poisson models. Estimates of the effect of introducing 20 mph zones on casualties within those zones and in adjacent areas were adjusted for the underlying downward trend in traffic casualties.
Main outcome measures All casualties from road collisions; those killed and seriously injured (KSI).
Results The introduction of 20 mph zones was associated with a 41.9% (95% confidence interval 36.0% to 47.8%) reduction in road casualties, after adjustment for underlying time trends. The percentage reduction was greatest in younger children and greater for the category of killed or seriously injured casualties than for minor injuries. There was no evidence of casualty migration to areas adjacent to 20 mph zones, where casualties also fell slightly by an average of 8.0% (4.4% to 11.5%).
Conclusions 20 mph zones are effective measures for reducing road injuries and deaths.
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1) is one of nine inherited neurodegenerative disorders caused by a mutant protein with an expanded polyglutamine tract. Phosphorylation of ataxin-1 (ATXN1) at serine 776 is implicated in SCA1 pathogenesis. Previous studies, utilizing transfected cell lines and a Drosophila photoreceptor model of SCA1, suggest that phosphorylating ATXN1 at S776 renders it less susceptible to degradation. This work also indicated that oncogene from AKR mouse thymoma (Akt) promotes the phosphorylation of ATXN1 at S776 and severity of neurodegeneration. Here, we examined the phosphorylation of ATXN1 at S776 in cerebellar Purkinje cells, a prominent site of pathology in SCA1. We found that while phosphorylation of S776 is associated with a stabilization of ATXN1 in Purkinje cells, inhibition of Akt either in vivo or in a cerebellar extract-based phosphorylation assay did not decrease the phosphorylation of ATXN1-S776. In contrast, immunodepletion and inhibition of cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase decreased phosphorylation of ATXN1-S776. These results argue against Akt as the in vivo kinase that phosphorylates S776 of ATXN1 and suggest that cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase is the active ATXN1-S776 kinase in the cerebellum.
ataxin-1; cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase; oncogene from AKR mouse thymoma; phosphorylation; spinocerebellar ataxia type 1
Norovirus, the most commonly identified cause of both sporadic cases and outbreaks of infectious diarrhoea in developed countries, exhibits a complex epidemiology and has a strong wintertime seasonality. Viral populations are dynamic and evolve under positive selection pressure.
Time series-adapted Poisson regression models were fitted to daily counts of laboratory reports of norovirus in England and Wales from 1993 to 2006.
Inverse linear associations with daily temperature over the previous seven weeks (rate ratio (RR) = 0.85; 95% CI: 0.83 to 0.86 for every 1°C increase) and relative humidity over the previous five weeks (RR = 0.980; 95% CI: 0.973 to 0.987 for every 1% increase) were found, with temperature having a greater overall effect. The emergence of new norovirus variants (RR = 1.16; 95% CI: 1.10 to 1.22) and low population immunity were also associated with heightened norovirus activity. Temperature and humidity, which may be localised, had highly consistent effects in each region of England and Wales.
These results point to a complex interplay between host, viral and climatic factors driving norovirus epidemic patterns. Increases in norovirus are associated with cold, dry temperature, low population immunity and the emergence of novel genogroup 2 type 4 antigenic variants.
Little is known about the respiratory effects of short-term exposures to petroleum refinery emissions in young children. This study is an extension of an ecologic study that found an increased rate of hospitalizations for respiratory conditions among children living near petroleum refineries in Montreal (Canada).
We used a time-stratified case–crossover design to assess the risk of asthma episodes in relation to short-term variations in sulfur dioxide levels among children 2–4 years of age living within 0.5–7.5 km of the refinery stacks. Health data used to measure asthma episodes included emergency department (ED) visits and hospital admissions from 1996 to 2004. We estimated daily levels of SO2 at the residence of children using a) two fixed-site SO2 monitors located near the refineries and b) the AERMOD (American Meteorological Society/Environmental Protection Agency Regulatory Model) atmospheric dispersion model. We used conditional logistic regression to estimate odds ratios associated with an increase in the interquartile range of daily SO2 mean and peak exposures (31.2 ppb for AERMOD peaks). We adjusted for temperature, relative humidity, and regional/urban background air pollutant levels.
The risks of asthma ED visits and hospitalizations were more pronounced for same-day (lag 0) SO2 peak levels than for mean levels on the same day, or for other lags: the adjusted odds ratios estimated for same-day SO2 peak levels from AERMOD were 1.10 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.00–1.22] and 1.42 (95% CI, 1.10–1.82), over the interquartile range, for ED visits and hospital admissions, respectively.
Short-term episodes of increased SO2 exposures from refinery stack emissions were associated with a higher number of asthma episodes in nearby children.
asthma; case crossover; children; dispersion modeling; emergency department visits; hospital admissions; point source; refinery; short-term exposure; sulfur dioxide
Several studies have found an effect on mortality of between-city contrasts in long-term exposure to air pollution. The effect of within-city contrasts is still poorly understood.
We studied the association between long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution and mortality in a Dutch cohort.
We used data from an ongoing cohort study on diet and cancer with 120,852 subjects who were followed from 1987 to 1996. Exposure to black smoke (BS), nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter ≤mu;M2.5), as well as various exposure variables related to traffic, were estimated at the home address. We conducted Cox analyses in the full cohort adjusting for age, sex, smoking, and area-level socioeconomic status.
Traffic intensity on the nearest road was independently associated with mortality. Relative risks (95% confidence intervals) for a 10-μg/m3 increase in BS concentrations (difference between 5th and 95th percentile) were 1.05 (1.00–1.11) for natural cause, 1.04 (0.95–1.13) for cardiovascular, 1.22 (0.99–1.50) for respiratory, 1.03 (0.88–1.20) for lung cancer, and 1.04 (0.97–1.12) for mortality other than cardiovascular, respiratory, or lung cancer. Results were similar for NO2 and PM2.5, but no associations were found for SO2.
Traffic-related air pollution and several traffic exposure variables were associated with mortality in the full cohort. Relative risks were generally small. Associations between natural-cause and respiratory mortality were statistically significant for NO2 and BS. These results add to the evidence that long-term exposure to ambient air pollution is associated with increased mortality.
air pollution; cohort; mortality; traffic
Environmental pollution as a cause of congenital anomalies is sometimes suspected because of clustering of anomalies in areas of higher exposure. This highlights questions around spatial heterogeneity (clustering) in congenital anomaly rates. If spatial variation is endemic, then any one specific cluster is less remarkable, though the presence of uncontrolled geographically clustered risk factors is suggested. If rates are relatively homogeneous across space other than around specific hazards, then evidence for these hazards causing the clusters is strengthened. We sought to estimate the extent of spatial heterogeneity in congenital anomaly rates in the United Kingdom.
The study population covered about one million births from five registers in Britain from 1991–1999. We estimated heterogeneity across four geographical levels: register area, hospital catchment, electoral ward, and enumeration district, using a negative binomial regression model. We also sought clusters using a circular scan statistic.
Congenital anomaly rates clearly varied across register areas and hospital catchments (p < 0.001), but not below this level (p > 0.2). Adjusting for socioeconomic deprivation and maternal age made little difference to the extent of geographical variation for most congenital anomaly subtypes. The two most significant circular clusters (of four ano-rectal atresias and six congenital heart diseases) contained two or more siblings.
The variation in rates between registers and hospital catchment area may have resulted in part from differences in case ascertainment, and this should be taken into account in geographical epidemiological studies of environmental exposures. The absence of evidence for variation below this level should be interpreted cautiously in view of the low power of general heterogeneity tests. Nevertheless, the data suggest that strong localised clusters in congenital anomalies are uncommon, so clusters around specific putative environmental hazards are remarkable when observed. Negative binomial models applied at successive hierarchical levels provide an approach of intermediate complexity to characterising geographical heterogeneity.
Objective To estimate the protection against death provided by vaccination against influenza.
Design Prospective cohort follow up supplemented by weekly national counts of influenza confirmed in the community.
Setting Primary care.
Participants 24 535 patients aged over 75 years from 73 general practices in Great Britain.
Main outcome measure Death.
Results In unvaccinated members of the cohort daily all cause mortality was strongly associated with an index of influenza circulating in the population (mortality ratio 1.16, 95% confidence interval 1.04 to 1.29 at 90th centile of circulating influenza). The association was strongest for respiratory deaths but was also present for cardiovascular deaths. In contrast, in vaccinated people mortality from any cause was not associated with circulating influenza. The difference in patterns between vaccinated and unvaccinated people could not easily be due to chance (P = 0.02, all causes).
Conclusions This study, using a novel and robust approach to control for confounding, provides robust evidence of a protective effect on mortality of vaccination against influenza.
Objective To examine the determinants of vulnerability to winter mortality in elderly British people.
Design Population based cohort study (119 389 person years of follow up).
Setting 106 general practices from the Medical Research Council trial of assessment and management of older people in Britain.
Participants People aged ≥ 75 years.
Main outcome measures Mortality (10 123 deaths) determined by follow up through the Office for National Statistics.
Results Month to month variation accounted for 17% of annual all cause mortality, but only 7.8% after adjustment for temperature. The overall winter:non-winter rate ratio was 1.31 (95% confidence interval 1.26 to 1.36). There was little evidence that this ratio varied by geographical region, age, or any of the personal, socioeconomic, or clinical factors examined, with two exceptions: after adjustment for all major covariates the winter:non-winter ratio in women compared with men was 1.11 (1.00 to 1.23), and those with a self reported history of respiratory illness had a winter:non-winter ratio of 1.20 (1.08 to 1.34) times that of people without a history of respiratory illness. There was no evidence that socioeconomic deprivation or self reported financial worries were predictive of winter death.
Conclusion Except for female sex and pre-existing respiratory illness, there was little evidence for vulnerability to winter death associated with factors thought to lead to vulnerability. The lack of socioeconomic gradient suggests that policies aimed at relief of fuel poverty may need to be supplemented by additional measures to tackle the burden of excess winter deaths in elderly people.
Typical polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon mixtures are established lung carcinogens, but the quantitative exposure–response relationship is less clear. To clarify this relationship we conducted a review and meta-analysis of published reports of occupational epidemiologic studies. Thirty-nine cohorts were included. The average estimated unit relative risk (URR) at 100 μg/m3 years benzo[a]pyrene was 1.20 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.11–1.29] and was not sensitive to particular studies or analytic methods. However, the URR varied by industry. The estimated means in coke ovens, gasworks, and aluminum production works were similar (1.15–1.17). Average URRs in other industries were higher but imprecisely estimated, with those for asphalt (17.5; CI, 4.21–72.78) and chimney sweeps (16.2; CI, 1.64–160.7) significantly higher than the three above. There was no statistically significant variation of URRs within industry or in relation to study design (including whether adjusted for smoking), or source of exposure information. Limited information on total dust exposure did not suggest that dust exposure was an important confounder or modified the effect. These results provide a more secure basis for risk assessment than was previously available.
cancer; lung; meta-analysis; PAH; polycyclics; review