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1.  Breastfeeding: A Potential Excretion Route for Mothers and Implications for Infant Exposure to Perfluoroalkyl Acids 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2013;122(2):187-192.
Background: The presence of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) in breast milk has been documented, but their lactational transfer has been rarely studied. Determination of the elimination rates of these chemicals during breastfeeding is important and critical for assessing exposure in mothers and infants.
Objectives: We aimed to investigate the association between breastfeeding and maternal serum concentrations of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS). For a subset of the population, for whom we also have their infants’ measurements, we investigated associations of breastfeeding with infant serum PFAA concentrations.
Methods: The present analysis included 633 women from the C8 Science Panel Study who had a child < 3.5 years of age and who provided blood samples and reported detailed information on breastfeeding at the time of survey. PFAA serum concentrations were available for all mothers and 8% (n = 49) of the infants. Maternal and infant serum concentrations were regressed on duration of breastfeeding.
Results: Each month of breastfeeding was associated with lower maternal serum concentrations of PFOA (–3%; 95% CI: –5, –2%), PFOS (–3%; 95% CI: –3, –2%), PFNA (–2%; 95% CI: –2, –1%), and PFHxS (–1%; 95% CI: –2, 0%). The infant PFOA and PFOS serum concentrations were 6% (95% CI: 1, 10%) and 4% (95% CI: 1, 7%) higher per month of breastfeeding.
Conclusions: Breast milk is the optimal food for infants, but is also a PFAA excretion route for lactating mothers and exposure route for nursing infants.
Citation: Mondal D, Weldon RH, Armstrong BG, Gibson LJ, Lopez-Espinosa MJ, Shin HM, Fletcher T. 2014. Breastfeeding: a potential excretion route for mothers and implications for infant exposure to perfluoroalkyl acids. Environ Health Perspect 122:187–192;
PMCID: PMC3915259  PMID: 24280536
2.  Effectiveness of Inactivated Influenza Vaccines in Preventing Influenza-Associated Deaths and Hospitalizations among Ontario Residents Aged ≥65 Years: Estimates with Generalized Linear Models Accounting for Healthy Vaccinee Effects 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76318.
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.
PMCID: PMC3797825  PMID: 24146855
3.  Concentration–Response Function for Ozone and Daily Mortality: Results from Five Urban and Five Rural U.K. Populations 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2012;120(10):1411-1417.
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.
PMCID: PMC3491921  PMID: 22814173
concentration–response function; daily mortality; ozone; U.K. population
4.  Geographic variation and localised clustering of congenital anomalies in Great Britain 
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.
PMCID: PMC1939702  PMID: 17617898
5.  Effect of influenza vaccination on excess deaths occurring during periods of high circulation of influenza: cohort study in elderly people 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2004;329(7467):660.
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.
PMCID: PMC517645  PMID: 15313884

Results 1-5 (5)