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1.  Chronic respiratory symptoms in children following in utero and early life exposure to arsenic in drinking water in Bangladesh 
Background Arsenic exposure via drinking water increases the risk of chronic respiratory disease in adults. However, information on pulmonary health effects in children after early life exposure is limited.
Methods This population-based cohort study set in rural Matlab, Bangladesh, assessed lung function and respiratory symptoms of 650 children aged 7–17 years. Children with in utero and early life arsenic exposure were compared with children exposed to less than 10 µg/l in utero and throughout childhood. Because most children drank the same water as their mother had drunk during pregnancy, we could not assess only in utero or only childhood exposure.
Results Children exposed in utero to more than 500 µg/l of arsenic were more than eight times more likely to report wheezing when not having a cold [odds ratio (OR) = 8.41, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.66–42.6, P < 0.01] and more than three times more likely to report shortness of breath when walking on level ground (OR = 3.86, 95% CI: 1.09–13.7, P = 0.02) and when walking fast or climbing (OR = 3.19, 95% CI: 1.22–8.32, P < 0.01]. However, there was little evidence of reduced lung function in either exposure category.
Conclusions Children with high in utero and early life arsenic exposure had marked increases in several chronic respiratory symptoms, which could be due to in utero exposure or to early life exposure, or to both. Our findings suggest that arsenic in water has early pulmonary effects and that respiratory symptoms are a better marker of early life arsenic toxicity than changes in lung function measured by spirometry.
PMCID: PMC3781005  PMID: 24062297
Arsenic; lung function; respiratory; pulmonary; in utero; children
2.  Injury Deaths among People with Epilepsy in Rural Bangladesh 
Epilepsy & behavior : E&B  2012;23(3):291-293.
Accidental death in people with epilepsy (PWE) has been described in high income settings where the relative risk of death is known to be higher than in the standard population. Population-based studies of injury deaths among PWE in developing countries are uncommon.
A population-based verbal autopsy study in Matlab, Bangladesh, performed at a health and demographic surveillance system site (mean population 223,886 in 142 villages), was used to assess the possible causes of all deaths. All cases of accidental injury (2005–2008) were evaluated and compared between people with and without a diagnosis of epilepsy.
There were 12 accidental deaths among PWE (8 female, age range 12–58 years old) out of a total of 316 deaths due to accidental injuries (3.8% of all injury deaths). Causes of mortality were drowning (n=10) and burns (n=2). The proportion of deaths due to drowning among PWE was significantly higher than that of the standard population (83% (10/12) vs. 7% (21/304), relative risk 12.6 (95% CI, 7.7–20.7, p<0.0001)). Mortality due to injury in PWE occurred at a younger age compared to people without epilepsy (mean difference 20.7 years (95% CI 6.7, 34.3), p<0.004).
There is a high proportion of accidental deaths due to drowning in PWE in Bangladesh compared to the standard population. Given the risk of seasonal flooding and low level of formal education, programs targeting water safety for PWE at all ages should be emphasized, appropriate for level of ability.
PMCID: PMC3307862  PMID: 22341966
accident; Bangladesh; drowning; epilepsy; mortality
3.  Challenges to Evaluating Respiratory Syncytial Virus Mortality in Bangladesh, 2004–2008 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53857.
Acute lower respiratory illness is the most common cause of death among children, globally. Data are not available to make accurate estimates on the global mortality from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), specifically.
Respiratory samples collected from children under 5 years of age during 2004 to 2008 as part of population-based respiratory disease surveillance in an urban community in Dhaka, Bangladesh were tested for RSV, human metapneumovirus (HMPV), human parainfluenza virus (PIV) types 1, 2, and 3, influenza and adenovirus by RT-PCR. Verbal autopsy data were used to identify children who died from respiratory illness in a nearby rural community. Significance of the correlation between detections and community respiratory deaths was determined using Spearman's coefficient.
RSV activity occurred during defined periods lasting approximately three months but with no clear seasonal pattern. There was no significant correlation between respiratory deaths and detection of any of the respiratory viruses studied.
Outbreaks of respiratory viruses may not be associated with deaths in children in the study site; however, the few respiratory deaths observed and community-to-community variation in the timing of outbreaks may have obscured an association. An accurate assessment of respiratory virus-associated deaths will require detections and death data to come from the same location and a larger study population.
PMCID: PMC3554708  PMID: 23365643
4.  Association of antenatal care with facility delivery and perinatal survival – a population-based study in Bangladesh 
Antenatal Care (ANC) during pregnancy can play an important role in the uptake of evidence-based services vital to the health of women and their infants. Studies report positive effects of ANC on use of facility-based delivery and perinatal mortality. However, most existing studies are limited to cross-sectional surveys with long recall periods, and generally do not include population-based samples.
This study was conducted within the Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) of the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) in Matlab, Bangladesh. The HDSS area is divided into an icddr,b service area (SA) where women and children receive care from icddr,b health facilities, and a government SA where people receive care from government facilities. In 2007, a new Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Health (MNCH) program was initiated in the icddr,b SA that strengthened the ongoing maternal and child health services including ANC. We estimated the association of ANC with facility delivery and perinatal mortality using prospectively collected data from 2005 to 2009. Using a before-after study design, we also determined the role of ANC services on reduction of perinatal mortality between the periods before (2005 – 2006) and after (2008–2009) implementation of the MNCH program.
Antenatal care visits were associated with increased facility-based delivery in the icddr,b and government SAs. In the icddr,b SA, the adjusted odds of perinatal mortality was about 2-times higher (odds ratio (OR) 1.91; 95% confidence intervals (CI): 1.50, 2.42) among women who received ≤1 ANC compared to women who received ≥3 ANC visits. No such association was observed in the government SA. Controlling for ANC visits substantially reduced the observed effect of the intervention on perinatal mortality (OR 0.64; 95% CI: 0.52, 0.78) to non-significance (OR 0.81; 95% CI: 0.65, 1.01), when comparing cohorts before and after the MNCH program initiation (Sobel test of mediation P < 0.001).
ANC visits are associated with increased uptake of facility-based delivery and improved perinatal survival in the icddr,b SA. Further testing of the icddr,b approach to simultaneously improving quality of ANC and facility delivery care is needed in the existing health system in Bangladesh and in other low-income countries to maximize health benefits to mothers and newborns.
PMCID: PMC3495045  PMID: 23066832
5.  Effectiveness of an integrated approach to reduce perinatal mortality: recent experiences from Matlab, Bangladesh 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:914.
Improving perinatal health is the key to achieving the Millennium Development Goal for child survival. Recently, several reviews suggest that scaling up available effective perinatal interventions in an integrated approach can substantially reduce the stillbirth and neonatal death rates worldwide. We evaluated the effect of packaged interventions given in pregnancy, delivery and post-partum periods through integration of community- and facility-based services on perinatal mortality.
This study took advantage of an ongoing health and demographic surveillance system (HDSS) and a new Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health (MNCH) Project initiated in 2007 in Matlab, Bangladesh in half (intervention area) of the HDSS area. In the other half, women received usual care through the government health system (comparison area). The MNCH Project strengthened ongoing maternal and child health services as well as added new services. The intervention followed a continuum of care model for pregnancy, intrapartum, and post-natal periods by improving established links between community- and facility-based services. With a separate pre-post samples design, we compared the perinatal mortality rates between two periods--before (2005-2006) and after (2008-2009) implementation of MNCH interventions. We also evaluated the difference-of-differences in perinatal mortality between intervention and comparison areas.
Antenatal coverage, facility delivery and cesarean section rates were significantly higher in the post- intervention period in comparison with the period before intervention. In the intervention area, the odds of perinatal mortality decreased by 36% between the pre-intervention and post-intervention periods (odds ratio: 0.64; 95% confidence intervals: 0.52-0.78). The reduction in the intervention area was also significant relative to the reduction in the comparison area (OR 0.73, 95% CI: 0.56-0.95; P = 0.018).
The continuum of care approach provided through the integration of service delivery modes decreased the perinatal mortality rate within a short period of time. Further testing of this model is warranted within the government health system in Bangladesh and other low-income countries.
PMCID: PMC3257323  PMID: 22151276
6.  Care seeking for fatal illness episodes in Neonates: a population-based study in rural Bangladesh 
BMC Pediatrics  2011;11:88.
Poor neonatal health is a major contributor to under-five mortality in developing countries. A major constraint to effective neonatal survival programme has been the lack of population level data in developing countries. This study investigated the consultation patterns of caregivers during neonatal fatal illness episodes in the rural Matlab sub-district of eastern Bangladesh.
Neonatal deaths were identified through a population-based demographic surveillance system in Matlab ICDDR,B maternal and child health (MCH) project area and an adjoining government service area. Trained project staff administered a structured questionnaire on care seeking to mothers at home who had experienced a neonatal death. Univariate, bivariate and binary multivariate logistic regressions were performed to describe care seeking during the fatal illness episode.
Of the 365 deaths recorded during 2003 and 2004, 84% died in the early (0-7 days) neonatal period, with the remaining deaths occurring over the subsequent 8 to 28 days. The first resort of care by parents was a qualified doctor or paramedic in 37% of cases, followed by traditional and unqualified health care providers in 25%, while 38% sought no care. Thus, almost two thirds (63%) of neonates who died received only traditional and unqualified care or no care at all during their final illness episode. About 22% sought care from more than one provider, including 6% from 3 or more providers. Such plurality in care seeking was more likely among male infants, in the late neonatal period, and in the MCH project area.
The high proportion of neonatal deaths that had received traditional care or no medical care in a rural area of Bangladesh highlights the need to develop community awareness about prompt medical care seeking for neonatal illnesses and to improve access to effective health care. Integration of traditional care providers into mainstream health programs should also be considered.
PMCID: PMC3204238  PMID: 21999253
7.  A comparison of physicians and medical assistants in interpreting verbal autopsy interviews for allocating cause of neonatal death in Matlab, Bangladesh: can medical assistants be considered an alternative to physicians? 
This study assessed the agreement between medical physicians in their interpretation of verbal autopsy (VA) interview data for identifying causes of neonatal deaths in rural Bangladesh.
The study was carried out in Matlab, a rural sub-district in eastern Bangladesh. Trained persons conducted the VA interview with the mother or another family member at the home of the deceased. Three physicians and a medical assistant independently reviewed the VA interviews to assign causes of death using the International Classification of Diseases - Tenth Revision (ICD-10) codes. A physician assigned cause was decided when at least two physicians agreed on a cause of death. Cause-specific mortality fraction (CSMF), kappa (k) statistic, sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive values were applied to compare agreement between the reviewers.
Of the 365 neonatal deaths reviewed, agreement on a direct cause of death was reached by at least two physicians in 339 (93%) of cases. Physician and medical assistant reviews of causes of death demonstrated the following levels of diagnostic agreement for the main causes of deaths: for birth asphyxia the sensitivity was 84%, specificity 93%, and kappa 0.77. For prematurity/low birth weight, the sensitivity, specificity, and kappa statistics were, respectively, 53%, 96%, and 0.55, for sepsis/meningitis they were 48%, 98%, and 0.53, and for pneumonia they were 75%, 94%, and 0.51.
This study revealed a moderate to strong agreement between physician- assigned and medical assistant- assigned major causes of neonatal death. A well-trained medical assistant could be considered an alternative for assigning major causes of neonatal deaths in rural Bangladesh and in similar settings where physicians are scarce and their time costs more. A validation study with medically confirmed diagnosis will improve the performance of VA for assigning cause of neonatal death.
PMCID: PMC2933579  PMID: 20712906
8.  Protection from annual flooding is correlated with increased cholera prevalence in Bangladesh: a zero-inflated regression analysis 
Environmental Health  2010;9:13.
Alteration of natural or historical aquatic flows can have unintended consequences for regions where waterborne diseases are endemic and where the epidemiologic implications of such change are poorly understood. The implementation of flood protection measures for a portion of an intensely monitored population in Matlab, Bangladesh, allows us to examine whether cholera outcomes respond positively or negatively to measures designed to control river flooding.
Using a zero inflated negative binomial model, we examine how selected covariates can simultaneously account for household clusters reporting no cholera from those with positive counts as well as distinguishing residential areas with low counts from areas with high cholera counts. Our goal is to examine how residence within or outside a flood protected area interacts with the probability of cholera presence and the effect of flood protection on the magnitude of cholera prevalence.
In Matlab, living in a household that is protected from annual monsoon flooding appears to have no significant effect on whether the household experiences cholera, net of other covariates. However, counter-intuitively, among households where cholera is reported, living within the flood protected region significantly increases the number of cholera cases.
The construction of dams or other water impoundment strategies for economic or social motives can have profound and unanticipated consequences for waterborne disease. Our results indicate that the construction of a flood control structure in rural Bangladesh is correlated with an increase in cholera cases for residents protected from annual monsoon flooding. Such a finding requires attention from both the health community and from governments and non-governmental organizations involved in ongoing water management schemes.
PMCID: PMC2856547  PMID: 20307294
9.  Spatio-temporal clustering of cholera: The impact of flood control in Matlab, Bangladesh, 1983–2003 
Health & place  2009;15(3):741-752.
Introducing flood control to an area of endemic waterborne diseases could have significant impacts on spatio-temporal occurrence of cholera. Using 21-years of data from Bangladesh, we conducted cluster analysis to explore changes in spatial and temporal distribution of cholera incidence since construction of flood control structures. Striking changes in temporal cluster patterns emerged, including a shift from dry season to rainy season clusters following flood protection and delayed clustering inside the protected areas. Spatial differences in pre-flood protection and post-protection cholera clusters are weaker. Changes in spatio-temporal cholera clustering, associated with implementation of flood protection strategies, could affect local cholera prevention efforts.
PMCID: PMC2790410  PMID: 19217821
cholera; Bangladesh; cluster; flood protection; spatial scan statistic

Results 1-9 (9)