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1.  Healthy Conversation Skills: increasing competence and confidence in front-line staff 
Public health nutrition  2012;10.1017/S1368980012004089.
Objectives
1) To assess change in confidence in having conversations that support parents with healthy eating and physical activity post-training. 2) To assess change in staff competence in using ‘open discovery’ questions (those generally beginning with “how” and “what” that help individuals reflect and identify barriers and solutions) post-training. 3) To examine the relationship between confidence and competence post-training.
Design
A pre-post evaluation of ‘Healthy Conversation Skills’, a staff training intervention.
Setting
Sure Start Children’s Centres in Southampton, England.
Participants
A total of 145 staff working in Sure Start Children’s Centres completed the training, including playworkers (45%) and community development or family support workers (31%).
Results
We observed an increase in median confidence rating for having conversations about healthy eating and physical activity (both p<0.001), and in using ‘open discovery’ questions (p<0.001) after staff attended the ‘Healthy Conversation Skills’ training. We also found a positive relationship between use of ‘open discovery’ questions and confidence in having conversations about healthy eating post-training (r=0.21, p=0.01), but a non-significant trend was observed for having conversations about physical activity (r=0.15, p=0.06).
Conclusions
The ‘Healthy Conversation Skills’ training has proved effective at increasing the confidence of staff working at Sure Start Children’s Centres to have more productive conversations with parents about healthy eating. Wider implementation of these skills may be a useful public health nutrition capacity building strategy to help community workers support families with young children to eat more healthy foods.
doi:10.1017/S1368980012004089
PMCID: PMC3776723  PMID: 22989477
2.  Using natural experiments to evaluate population health interventions: new MRC guidance 
Natural experimental studies are often recommended as a way of understanding the health impact of policies and other large scale interventions. Although they have certain advantages over planned experiments, and may be the only option when it is impossible to manipulate exposure to the intervention, natural experimental studies are more susceptible to bias. This paper introduces new guidance from the Medical Research Council to help researchers and users, funders and publishers of research evidence make the best use of natural experimental approaches to evaluating population health interventions. The guidance emphasises that natural experiments can provide convincing evidence of impact even when effects are small or take time to appear. However, a good understanding is needed of the process determining exposure to the intervention, and careful choice and combination of methods, testing of assumptions and transparent reporting is vital. More could be learnt from natural experiments in future as experience of promising but lesser used methods accumulates.
doi:10.1136/jech-2011-200375
PMCID: PMC3796763  PMID: 22577181
3.  Symptoms of anxiety or depression and risk of fracture in older people: The Hertfordshire Cohort Study 
Archives of osteoporosis  2012;7(0):59-65.
Background
Use of psychotropic drugs has been linked with an increased risk of fracture in older people, but there are indications that the conditions for which these drugs were prescribed may themselves influence fracture risk.
Aim
To investigate the relation between symptoms of anxiety and depression and risk of fracture in older people.
Design
Prospective cohort study.
Methods
1087 men and 1050 women aged 59-73 years completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Data on incident fracture during an average follow-up period of 5.6 years was collected through interview and a postal questionnaire.
Results
Compared to men with no or few symptoms of anxiety (score ≤7 on the HADS anxiety subscale), men with probable anxiety (score ≥11) had an increased risk of fracture: after adjustment for age and potential confounding factors, the odds ratio (OR) (95% confidence interval) was 4.03 (1.55, 10.5). Men with possible anxiety (score 8-10) did not have an increased risk of fracture: multivariate-adjusted OR was 1.04 (0.36, 3.03). There were no associations between levels of anxiety and fracture risk in women. Few men or women had probable depression at baseline (score ≥11 on the HADS depression subscale). Among men with possible depression (score 8-10) there was an increased risk of fracture that was of borderline significance: multivariate-adjusted OR 3.57 (0.99, 12.9). There was no association between possible depression and fracture risk in women.
Conclusions
High levels of anxiety in older men may increase their risk of fracture. Future research needs to replicate this finding in other populations and investigate the underlying mechanisms.
doi:10.1007/s11657-012-0080-5
PMCID: PMC3736098  PMID: 23225282
anxiety; depression; fracture
4.  Geographic differences in fractures among women 
Women's health (London, England)  2012;8(6):673-684.
Osteoporotic fracture is associated with considerable morbidity and mortality in women throughout the world. However, significant variation in hip fracture rates among women from different nations have been observed, and are likely to represent a combination of real and apparent differences due to ascertainment bias. Higher rates are observed in Caucasian women, with lowest rates observed in black women and intermediate rates among Asian women. These differences are likely to represent a combination of genetic and environmental differences; for example, among European women, the highest fracture rates are observed in Scandinavian women where vitamin D insufficiency is common. In all groups, an expansion in absolute fracture numbers is anticipated due to demographic changes.
doi:10.2217/whe.12.54
PMCID: PMC3736314  PMID: 23181532
Osteoporosis; Fracture; Geographic; Variation; Women; Epidemiology
5.  Fractures in users of antidepressants and anxiolytics and sedatives Effects of age and dose 
Aim
To study the effects of age and dose of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), trycyclic antidepressants (TCA) and anxiolytics/sedatives on fracture risk.
Subjects and methods
Case control study. From the Danish National Health Service, we identified 124,655 fracture cases and 373,962 age- and gender-matched controls. Crude odds ratios (OR) were estimated, and propensity score adjustment was used to minimize confounding by indication.
Results
A higher risk of fractures was associated with an increasing dose of anxiolytics and sedatives; the highest excess risk was present in the age stratum below 40 years of age (p<0.01), and thereafter the excess risk of fractures declined with age. For SSRI, a growing excess risk of fractures was seen with both increasing dose and age. Regarding TCA, no particular trend with age was present. However, an increasing risk of fractures was associated with increasing TCA dose in the age group above 60 years. Finally, for other antidepressants no particular trend with age or dose was observed. In our data, a hospital diagnosis of depression or manic-depression was associated with fewer fractures.
Conclusion
Caution should be shown upon prescription of SSRI to older subjects. A hospital diagnosis of depression or manic-depression and thus potentially more severe disease was not a risk factor for fractures.
doi:10.1007/s00198-012-2043-5
PMCID: PMC3658008  PMID: 22669469
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors; tricyclic antidepressants; antidepressant; fracture
6.  Evaluation of common genetic variants identified by GWAS for early onset and morbid obesity in population-based samples 
Background
Meta-analysis of case-control genome wide association studies (GWAS) for early onset and morbid obesity identified four variants in/near the PRL, PTER, MAF and NPC1 genes.
Objective
We aimed to validate association of these variants with obesity-related traits in population-based samples.
Design
Genotypes and anthropometric traits were available in up to 31 083 adults from the Fenland, EPIC-Norfolk, Whitehall II, Ely and Hertfordshire studies and in 2 042 children and adolescents from the European Youth Heart Study. In each study, we tested associations of rs4712652 (near-PRL), rs10508503 (near-PTER), rs1424233 (near-MAF) and rs1805081 (NPC1), or proxy variants (r2>0.8), with the odds of being overweight and obese, as well as with BMI, percentage body fat (%BF) and waist circumference (WC). Associations were adjusted for sex, age and age2 in adults and for sex, age, age-group, country and maturity in children and adolescents. Summary statistics were combined using fixed effects meta-analysis methods.
Results
We had 80% power to detect ORs of 1.046 to 1.092 for overweight and 1.067 to 1.136 for obesity. Variants near PRL, PTER and MAF were not associated with the odds of being overweight or obese, or with BMI, %BF or WC after meta-analysis (P > 0.15). The NPC1 variant rs1805081 showed some evidence of association with %BF (beta=0.013 SD/allele, P =0.040), but not with any of the remaining obesity-related traits (P >0.3).
Conclusion
Overall, these variants, which were identified in a GWAS for early onset and morbid obesity, do not seem to influence obesity-related traits in the general population.
doi:10.1038/ijo.2012.34
PMCID: PMC3680864  PMID: 22430306
Obesity-susceptibility loci; genome-wide association; morbid; early-onset; anthropometric traits; children and adolescents; population-based
8.  Maternal late-pregnancy serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in relation to childhood wheeze and atopic outcomes 
Thorax  2012;67(11):950-956.
Background
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.
Objective
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1136/thoraxjnl-2012-201888
PMCID: PMC3679514  PMID: 22707522
asthma epidemiology; asthma; paediatric asthma
9.  Implementation of new skills to support lifestyle changes - what helps and what hinders? 
Effective communication is necessary for good relationships between healthcare practitioners and clients. This study examined barriers and facilitators to implementing new communication skills.
One hundred and one Sure Start Children’s Centre staff attended one of 13 follow-up workshops to reflect on the use of new skills following a training course in communication, reflection and problem-solving. Barriers and facilitators were assessed with an adapted Problematic Experiences of Therapy scale (PETS). Staff reported frequency of skill use, and described what made it more difficult or easier to use the skills.
The PETS indicated that staff had confidence in using the skills, but felt there were practical barriers to using them, such as lack of time. Skills were used less often when staff perceived parents not to be engaging with them (rs=−0.42, p<.001), when staff felt less confident to use the skills (rs =−0.37, p<.001), and when there were more practical barriers (rs =−0.37, p<.001). In support of findings from the PETS, content analysis of free text responses suggested that the main barrier was a perceived lack of time to implement new skills. Facilitators included seeing the benefits of using the skills, finding opportunities and having good relationships with parents.
Understanding the range of barriers and facilitators to implementation is essential when developing training to facilitate on-going support and sustain skill use. Special attention should be given to exploring trainees’ perceptions of time, in order to be able to address this significant barrier to skill implementation. Staff training requires a multifaceted approach to address the range of perceived barriers.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-2524.2012.01063.x
PMCID: PMC3679516  PMID: 22452549
barriers; communication; epidemiology; Sure Start; training
10.  Type of milk feeding in infancy and health behaviours in adult life: findings from the Hertfordshire Cohort Study 
The British journal of nutrition  2012;109(6):1114-1122.
A number of studies suggest that breastfeeding has beneficial effects on adult cardiovascular risk factors in adulthood, although the mechanisms involved are unknown. One possible explanation is that adults who were breastfed differ in their health behaviours. In a historical cohort, adult health behaviours were examined in relation to type of milk feeding in infancy. From 1931-1939, records were kept on all infants born in Hertfordshire, UK. Their type of milk feeding was summarised as breastfed only, breast & bottle-fed, or bottle-fed only. Information about adult health behaviours was collected from 3217 of these men and women when they were aged 59-73 years. Diet was assessed by administered food frequency questionnaire; the key dietary pattern was a ‘prudent’ pattern, that described compliance with ‘healthy’ eating recommendations. 60% of the men and women were breastfed, 31% were breast & bottle-fed, 9% were bottle-fed. Type of milk feeding did not differ according to social class at birth, and was not related to social class attained in adult life. There were no differences in smoking status, alcohol intake or reported physical activity according to type of milk feeding, but there were differences in the participants’ dietary patterns. In a multivariate model that included gender and infant weight gain, there were independent associations between type of feeding and prudent diet scores in adult life (P=0.009), such that higher scores were associated with being breast fed. These data support experimental findings that suggest that early dietary exposures can have lifelong influences on food choice.
doi:10.1017/S000711451200267X
PMCID: PMC3628663  PMID: 23021469
Breastfeeding; food choice; dietary patterns; health behaviours
11.  A simple score for estimating the long-term risk of fracture in patients with multiple sclerosis 
Neurology  2012;79(9):922-928.
Objective:
To derive a simple score for estimating the long-term risk of osteoporotic and hip fracture in individual patients with MS.
Methods:
Using the UK General Practice Research Database linked to the National Hospital Registry (1997–2008), we identified patients with incident MS (n = 5,494). They were matched 1:6 by year of birth, sex, and practice with patients without MS (control subjects). Cox proportional hazards models were used to calculate the long-term risk of osteoporotic and hip fracture. We fitted the regression model with general and specific risk factors, and the final Cox model was converted into integer risk scores.
Results:
In comparison with the FRAX calculator, our risk score contains several new risk factors that have been linked with fracture, which include MS, use of antidepressants, use of anticonvulsants, history of falling, and history of fatigue. We estimated the 5- and 10-year risks of osteoporotic and hip fracture in relation to the risk score. The C-statistic was moderate (0.67) for the prediction of osteoporotic fracture and excellent (0.89) for the prediction of hip fracture.
Conclusion:
This is the first clinical risk score for fracture risk estimation involving MS as a risk factor.
doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e318266faae
PMCID: PMC3425841  PMID: 22895583
12.  Postpartum depressive symptoms: the B-vitamin link 
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.
PMCID: PMC3487611  PMID: 23277793
B-vitamin intake; folate status; postpartum depression
13.  Optimal case definitions of upper extremity disorder for use in the clinical treatment and referral of patients 
Arthritis care & research  2012;64(4):573-580.
Objective
Experts disagree about the optimal classification of upper limb disorders (ULDs). To explore whether differential response to treatments offers a basis for choosing between case definitions, we analysed previously published research.
Methods
We screened 183 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of treatments for ULDs, identified from the bibliographies of 10 Cochrane reviews, four other systematic reviews, and a search in Medline, Embase, and Google Scholar to June 2010. From these, we selected RCTs which allowed estimates of benefit (expressed as relative risks (RRs)) for >1 case definition to be compared when other variables (treatment, comparison group, follow-up time, outcome measure) were effectively held constant. Comparisons of RRs for paired case definitions were summarised by their ratios, with the RR for the simpler and broader definition as the denominator.
Result
Two RCT reports allowed within-trial comparison of RRs and thirteen others allowed between-trial comparisons. Together these provided 17 ratios of RRs (five for shoulder treatments, 12 for elbow treatments, none for wrist/hand treatments). The median ratio of RRs was 1.0 (range 0.3 to 1.7; interquartile range 0.6 to 1.3).
Conclusion
Although the evidence base is limited, our findings suggest that for musculoskeletal disorders of the shoulder and elbow, clinicians in primary care will often do best to apply simpler and broader case definitions. Researchers should routinely publish secondary analyses for subgroups of patients by different diagnostic features at trial entry, to expand the evidence base on optimal case definitions for patient management.
doi:10.1002/acr.21588
PMCID: PMC3428871  PMID: 22213545
14.  Maternal Plasma Phosphatidylcholine Fatty Acids and Atopy and Wheeze in the Offspring at Age of 6 Years 
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.
doi:10.1155/2012/474613
PMCID: PMC3463812  PMID: 23049600
15.  Fetal Liver Blood Flow Distribution: Role in Human Developmental Strategy to Prioritize Fat Deposition versus Brain Development 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e41759.
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041759
PMCID: PMC3425554  PMID: 22927915
16.  Risk of Fracture with Thiazolidinediones: Disease or Drugs? 
Calcified Tissue International  2012;90(6):450-457.
The use of thiazolidinediones (TZDs) has been associated with an increased fracture risk. In addition, type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) has been linked with fracture. We evaluated to what extent the association between TZD use and fracture risk is related to the drug or to the underlying disease. We conducted a population-based cohort study using the Danish National Health Registers (1996–2007), which link pharmacy data to the national hospital registry. Oral antidiabetic users (n = 180,049) were matched 1:3 by year of birth and sex to nonusers. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) of fracture. Time-dependent adjustments were made for age, comorbidity, and drug use. We created a proxy indicator for the severity of disease. The first stage was defined as current use of either a biguanide or a sulfonyluerum, the second stage as current use of a biguanide and a sulfonyluerum at the same time, the third stage as patients using TZDs, and the fourth stage as patients using insulin. The risk of osteoporotic fracture was increased 1.3-fold for stages 3 and 4 compared with controls. Risk with current TZD use (stage 3 HR = 1.27, 95 % CI 1.06–1.52) and risk with current use of insulin (stage 4 HR = 1.25, 95 % CI 1.20–1.31) were similar. In the first (HR = 1.15, 95 % CI 1.13–1.18) and second (HR = 1.00, 95 % CI 0.96–1.04) stages risks were lower. Risk of osteoporotic fracture was similar for TZD users and insulin users. When studying fracture risk with TZDs, the underlying T2DM should be taken into account.
doi:10.1007/s00223-012-9591-8
PMCID: PMC3349019  PMID: 22488176
Thiazolidinedione; Type 2 diabetes mellitus; Fracture risk; Osteoporosis
17.  Nutrition and Sarcopenia: A Review of the Evidence and Implications for Preventive Strategies 
Journal of Aging Research  2012;2012:510801.
Prevention of age-related losses in muscle mass and strength is key to protecting physical capability in older age and enabling independent living. To develop preventive strategies, a better understanding is needed of the lifestyle factors that influence sarcopenia and the mechanisms involved. Existing evidence indicates the potential importance of diets of adequate quality, to ensure sufficient intakes of protein, vitamin D, and antioxidant nutrients. Although much of this evidence is observational, the prevalence of low nutrient intakes and poor status among older adults make this a current concern. However, as muscle mass and strength in later life are a reflection of both the rate of muscle loss and the peak attained in early life, efforts to prevent sarcopenia also need to consider diet across the lifecourse and the potential effectiveness of early interventions. Optimising diet and nutrition throughout life may be key to preventing sarcopenia and promoting physical capability in older age.
doi:10.1155/2012/510801
PMCID: PMC3312288  PMID: 22506112
18.  MAVIDOS Maternal Vitamin D Osteoporosis Study: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. The MAVIDOS Study Group 
Trials  2012;13:13.
MAVIDOS is a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial (ISRCTN82927713, registered 2008 Apr 11), funded by Arthritis Research UK, MRC, Bupa Foundation and NIHR.
Background
Osteoporosis is a major public health problem as a result of associated fragility fractures. Skeletal strength increases from birth to a peak in early adulthood. This peak predicts osteoporosis risk in later life. Vitamin D insufficiency in pregnancy is common (31% in a recent Southampton cohort) and predicts reduced bone mass in the offspring. In this study we aim to test whether offspring of mothers supplemented with vitamin D in pregnancy have higher bone mass at birth than those whose mothers were not supplemented.
Methods/Design
Women have their vitamin D status assessed after ultrasound scanning in the twelfth week of pregnancy at 3 trial centres (Southampton, Sheffield, Oxford). Women with circulating 25(OH)-vitamin D levels 25-100 nmol/l are randomised in a double-blind design to either oral vitamin D supplement (1000 IU cholecalciferol/day, n = 477) or placebo at 14 weeks (n = 477). Questionnaire data include parity, sunlight exposure, dietary information, and cigarette and alcohol consumption. At 19 and 34 weeks maternal anthropometry is assessed and blood samples taken to measure 25(OH)-vitamin D, PTH and biochemistry. At delivery venous umbilical cord blood is collected, together with umbilical cord and placental tissue. The babies undergo DXA assessment of bone mass within the first 14 days after birth, with the primary outcome being whole body bone mineral content adjusted for gestational age and age. Children are then followed up with yearly assessment of health, diet, physical activity and anthropometric measures, with repeat assessment of bone mass by DXA at age 4 years.
Discussion
As far as we are aware, this randomised trial is one of the first ever tests of the early life origins hypothesis in human participants and has the potential to inform public health policy regarding vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy. It will also provide a valuable resource in which to study the influence of maternal vitamin D status on other childhood outcomes such as glucose tolerance, blood pressure, cardiovascular function, IQ and immunology.
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-13-13
PMCID: PMC3395865  PMID: 22314083
Vitamin D; cholecalciferol; supplementation; trial; osteoporosis; DXA; pregnancy; neonate
20.  A Multi-Cohort Study of Polymorphisms in the GH/IGF Axis and Physical Capability: The HALCyon Programme 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29883.
Background
Low muscle mass and function have been associated with poorer indicators of physical capability in older people, which are in-turn associated with increased mortality rates. The growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor (GH/IGF) axis is involved in muscle function and genetic variants in genes in the axis may influence measures of physical capability.
Methods
As part of the Healthy Ageing across the Life Course (HALCyon) programme, men and women from seven UK cohorts aged between 52 and 90 years old were genotyped for six polymorphisms: rs35767 (IGF1), rs7127900 (IGF2), rs2854744 (IGFBP3), rs2943641 (IRS1), rs2665802 (GH1) and the exon-3 deletion of GHR. The polymorphisms have previously been robustly associated with age-related traits or are potentially functional. Meta-analysis was used to pool within-study genotypic effects of the associations between the polymorphisms and four measures of physical capability: grip strength, timed walk or get up and go, chair rises and standing balance.
Results
Few important associations were observed among the several tests. We found evidence that rs2665802 in GH1 was associated with inability to balance for 5 s (pooled odds ratio per minor allele = 0.90, 95% CI: 0.82–0.98, p-value = 0.01, n = 10,748), after adjusting for age and sex. We found no evidence for other associations between the polymorphisms and physical capability traits.
Conclusion
Our findings do not provide evidence for a substantial influence of these common polymorphisms in the GH/IGF axis on objectively measured physical capability levels in older adults.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029883
PMCID: PMC3254646  PMID: 22253814
21.  Risk of fracture after bariatric surgery in the United Kingdom: population based, retrospective cohort study  
Objectives To estimate fracture risk in patients receiving bariatric surgery versus matched controls.
Design Population based, retrospective cohort study.
Setting Use of records from the United Kingdom General Practice Research Database, now known as the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (from January 1987 to December 2010).
Participants Patients with a body mass index of at least 30, with a record of bariatric surgery (n=2079), and matched controls without a record (n=10 442). Each bariatric surgery patient was matched to up to six controls by age, sex, practice, year, and body mass index. Patients were followed from the date of bariatric surgery for the occurrence of any fracture. We used time dependent Cox regression to calculate relative rates of fracture, adjusted for disease and previous drug treatment, and time-interaction terms to evaluate fracture timing patterns.
Main outcome measure Relative rates of any, osteoporotic, and non-osteoporotic fractures.
Results Mean follow-up time was 2.2 years. Overall, there was no significantly increased risk of fracture in patients who underwent bariatric surgery, compared with controls (8.8 v 8.2 per 1000 person years; adjusted relative risk 0.89, 95% confidence interval 0.60 to 1.33). Bariatric surgery also did not affect risk of osteoporotic and non-osteoporotic fractures. However, we saw a trend towards an increased fracture risk after three to five years following surgery, as well as in patients who had a greater decrease in body mass index after surgery, but this was not significant.
Conclusion Bariatric surgery does not have a significant effect on the risk of fracture. For the first few years after surgery, these results are reassuring for patients undergoing such operations, but do not exclude a more protracted adverse influence on skeletal health in the longer term.
doi:10.1136/bmj.e5085
PMCID: PMC3413006  PMID: 22867649
22.  Genetic contribution to radiographic severity in osteoarthritis of the knee 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;71(9):1537-1540.
Objective
Knee osteoarthritis (OA) has a significant genetic component. The authors have assessed the role of three variants reported to influence risk of knee OA with p<5×10–8 in determining patellofemoral and tibiofemoral Kellgren Lawrence (K/L) grade in knee OA cases.
Methods
3474 knee OA cases with sky-line and weight-bearing antero-posterior x-rays of the knee were selected based on the presentation of K/L grade ≥2 at either the tibiofemoral or patellofemoral compartments for one or both knees. Patients belonging to three UK cohorts, were genotyped for rs143383, rs4730250 and rs11842874 mapping to the GDF5, COG5 and MCF2L genes, respectively. The association between tibiofemoral K/L grade and patellofemoral K/L grade was assessed after adjusting for age, gender and body mass index.
Results
No significant association was found between the rs4730250 and radiographic severity. The rs11842874 mapping to MCF2L was found to be nominally significantly associated with patellofemoral K/L grade as a quantitative trait (p=0.027) but not as a binary trait. The GDF5 single nucleotide polymorphism rs143383 was associated with tibiofemoral K/L grade (β=0.05 (95% CI 0.02 to 0.08) p=0.0011).
Conclusions
Our data indicate that within individuals affected by radiographic knee OA, OAGDF5 has a modest but significant effect on radiographic severity after adjustment for the major risk factors.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-201382
PMCID: PMC3414227  PMID: 22615457
23.  Efficacy and safety of strontium ranelate in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis: results of a double-blind, randomised placebo-controlled trial 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;72(2):179-186.
Background
Strontium ranelate is currently used for osteoporosis. The international, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled Strontium ranelate Efficacy in Knee OsteoarthrItis triAl evaluated its effect on radiological progression of knee osteoarthritis.
Methods
Patients with knee osteoarthritis (Kellgren and Lawrence grade 2 or 3, and joint space width (JSW) 2.5–5 mm) were randomly allocated to strontium ranelate 1 g/day (n=558), 2 g/day (n=566) or placebo (n=559). The primary endpoint was radiographical change in JSW (medial tibiofemoral compartment) over 3 years versus placebo. Secondary endpoints included radiological progression, Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) score, and knee pain. The trial is registered (ISRCTN41323372).
Results
The intention-to-treat population included 1371 patients. Treatment with strontium ranelate was associated with smaller degradations in JSW than placebo (1 g/day: −0.23 (SD 0.56) mm; 2 g/day: −0.27 (SD 0.63) mm; placebo: −0.37 (SD 0.59) mm); treatment-placebo differences were 0.14 (SE 0.04), 95% CI 0.05 to 0.23, p<0.001 for 1 g/day and 0.10 (SE 0.04), 95% CI 0.02 to 0.19, p=0.018 for 2 g/day. Fewer radiological progressors were observed with strontium ranelate (p<0.001 and p=0.012 for 1 and 2 g/day). There were greater reductions in total WOMAC score (p=0.045), pain subscore (p=0.028), physical function subscore (p=0.099) and knee pain (p=0.065) with strontium ranelate 2 g/day. Strontium ranelate was well tolerated.
Conclusions
Treatment with strontium ranelate 1 and 2 g/day is associated with a significant effect on structure in patients with knee osteoarthritis, and a beneficial effect on symptoms for strontium ranelate 2 g/day.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202231
PMCID: PMC3599139  PMID: 23117245
Knee Osteoarthritis; Osteoarthritis; Outcomes research

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