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1.  Public health in the genomic era: will Public Health Genomics contribute to major changes in the prevention of common diseases? 
The completion of the Human Genome Project triggered a whole new field of genomic research which is likely to lead to new opportunities for the promotion of population health. As a result, the distinction between genetic and environmental diseases has faded. Presently, genomics and knowledge deriving from systems biology, epigenomics, integrative genomics or genome-environmental interactions give a better insight on the pathophysiology of common diseases. However, it is barely used in the prevention and management of diseases. Together with the boost in the amount of genetic association studies, this demands for appropriate public health actions. The field of Public Health Genomics analyses how genome-based knowledge and technologies can responsibly and effectively be integrated into health services and public policy for the benefit of population health. Environmental exposures interact with the genome to produce health information which may help explain inter-individual differences in health, or disease risk. However today, prospects for concrete applications remain distant. In addition, this information has not been translated into health practice yet. Therefore, evidence-based recommendations are few. The lack of population-based research hampers the evaluation of the impact of genomic applications. Public Health Genomics also evaluates the benefits and risks on a larger scale, including normative, legal, economic and social issues. These new developments are likely to affect all domains of public health and require rethinking the role of genomics in every condition of public health interest. This article aims at providing an introduction to the field of and the ideas behind Public Health Genomics.
PMCID: PMC3436652  PMID: 22958637
Epidemiology; Genomics; Epigenomics; Prevention; Public Health; Public Health Genomics; Translational Research; Policymaking; Personalised Healthcare
2.  Annual acknowledgement of manuscript reviewers 
Archives of Public Health  2015;73(1):16.
Contributing reviewers
The editors of Archives of Public Health would like to thank all our reviewers who have contributed to the journal in Volume 72 (2014).
PMCID: PMC4379696  PMID: 25830023
3.  Protocol of the PSYCHOTSH study: association between neonatal thyroid stimulating hormone concentration and intellectual, psychomotor and psychosocial development at 4–5 year of age: a retrospective cohort study 
Archives of Public Health  2014;72(1):27.
Several European countries, including Belgium, still suffer from mild iodine deficiency. Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) concentration in whole blood measured at birth has been proposed as an indicator of maternal iodine status during the last trimester of pregnancy. It has been shown that mild iodine deficiency during pregnancy may affect the neurodevelopment of the offspring. In several studies, elevated TSH levels at birth were associated with suboptimal cognitive and psychomotor outcomes among young children. This paper describes the protocol of the PSYCHOTSH study aiming to assess the association between neonatal TSH levels and intellectual, psychomotor and psychosocial development of 4–5 year old children. The results could lead to a reassessment of the recommended cut-off levels of 5 > mU/L used for monitoring iodine status of the population.
In total, 380 Belgian 4–5 year old preschool children from Brussels and Wallonia with a neonatal blood spot TSH concentration between 0 and 15 mU/L are included in the study. For each sex and TSH-interval (0–1, 1–2, 2–3, 3–4, 4–5, 5–6, 6–7, 7–8, 8–9 and 9–15 mU/L), 19 newborns were randomly selected from all newborns screened by the neonatal screening centre in Brussels in 2008–2009. Infants with congenital hypothyroidism, low birth weight and prematurity were excluded from the study. Neonatal TSH concentration was measured by the Autodelphia method in dried blood spots, collected by heel stick on filter paper 3 to 5 days after birth. Cognitive abilities and psychomotor development are assessed using the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence - third edition - and the Charlop-Atwell Scale of Motor coordination. Psychosocial development is measured using the Child Behaviour Check List for age 1½ to 5 years old. In addition, several socioeconomic, parental and child confounding factors are assessed.
This study aims to clarify the effect of mild iodine deficiency during pregnancy on the neurodevelopment of the offspring. Therefore, the results may have important implications for future public health recommendations, policies and practices in food supplementation. In addition, the results may have implications for the use of neonatal TSH screening results for monitoring the population iodine status and may lead to the definition of new TSH cut-offs for determination of the severity of iodine status and for practical use in data reporting by neonatal screening centres.
PMCID: PMC4150557  PMID: 25180082
Iodine deficiency; Thyroid stimulating hormone; Child development; Cognitive development; Psychomotor development; Psychosocial development
4.  The global activity limitation indicator and self-rated health: two complementary predictors of mortality 
Archives of Public Health  2015;73(1):25.
The purpose of this study is to compare the ability of the Global Activity Limitation Indicator (GALI) and self-rated health (SRH) to predict all-cause mortality in the general adult population.
We linked the 2001 Belgian Health Interview Survey with mortality and migration registers 2001–2010. The baseline sample included 8,583 individuals aged 15 years and older. Poisson regression models were used to estimate the effect of the GALI and SRH on mortality rate during follow-up. We investigated the impact of gender, age, education and follow-up period on the association between the GALI/SRH and mortality.
The GALI and SRH were strong and complementary predictors of mortality in the Belgian adult population. Although the two global instruments shared some traits, they predicted mortality concurrently, with some indication of a somewhat stronger effect for SRH. We found neither significant differences between men and women, nor between education groups. The predictive effect of the GALI and SRH slightly decreased over time and the predictive effect of SRH slightly decreased with age.
Our findings suggest that the GALI and SRH are useful and complementary measures for assessing the health and functional status of adults in population surveys.
PMCID: PMC4426645  PMID: 25964852
GALI; Self-rated health; Global indicator; Disability; Socioeconomic status; Mortality; Predictive ability; Healthy Life Years; Health Expectancy
5.  Degree of exposure and peritraumatic dissociation as determinants of PTSD symptoms in the aftermath of the Ghislenghien gas explosion 
Archives of Public Health  2015;73(1):21.
This paper investigates risk factors for the development of posttraumatic stress symptoms in the different survivor groups involved in a technological disaster in Ghislenghien (Belgium). A gas explosion instantly killed five firefighters, one police officer and 18 other people. Moreover, 132 people were wounded among which many suffered severe burn injuries.
In the framework of a large health survey of people potentially involved in the disaster, data were collected from 3,448 households, of which 7,148 persons aged 15 years and older, at 5 months (T1) and at 14 months (T2) after the explosion. Hierarchical regression was used to determine the significant predictors and to assess their proportion in variance accounted for.
The degree of exposure to the disaster was a predictor of the severity of posttraumatic stress symptoms. Peritraumatic dissociation appeared to be the most important predictor of the development of posttraumatic stress symptoms at T1. But at T2, posttraumatic stress symptoms at T1 had become the most important predictor. Dissatisfaction with social support was positively linked to development of posttraumatic stress symptoms at T1 and to the maintenance of these symptoms at T2. Survivors who received psychological help reported significant benefits.
In harmony with the findings from studies on technological disasters, at T1 6,0% of the respondents showed sufficient symptoms to meet all criteria for a full PTSD. At T2, 6,6% still suffered from posttraumatic stress symptoms. The symptoms of the different victim categories clearly indicated the influence of the degree of exposure on the development of posttraumatic stress symptoms. Problems inherent to retrospective scientific research after a disaster are discussed.
PMCID: PMC4403847  PMID: 25897400
Technological disaster; PTSD symptoms; Peritraumatic dissociation; Social support; Psychological help
6.  Does exposure type impact differentially over time on the development of mental health disturbances after a technological disaster? 
Archives of Public Health  2015;73(1):20.
A longitudinal study was conducted in order to assess the impact of the Ghislenghien disaster (July 30th, 2004) on physical, mental and social health in the affected population. The present study explored the risk for the development of four types of mental health disturbances (MHD) due to exposure to different aspects of this technological disaster in comparison with data obtained from previous health surveys among the population of the same province.
Surveys were conducted 5 months (T1) and 14 months (T2) after the disaster. Potential adult victims (≥15 years) were included (n = 1027 and 579 at T1 and T2 respectively). The “Symptom Checklist-90-Revised” (SCL-90-R) has been used in order to compute actual prevalence rates of somatization-, depression-, anxiety- and sleeping disturbances for three defined exposure categories: direct witnesses who have seen human damage (SHD), direct witnesses who have not seen human damage (NSHD) and indirect witnesses (IW). Those prevalence rates were compared with overall rates using the inhabitants of the province of Hainaut (n = 2308) as reference population. A mental health co-morbidity index was computed. Relative risks were estimated using logistic regression models.
Prevalence rates of the four MHD were much higher for the SHD than for the other exposure groups, at T1 and T2. Moreover, NSHD and IW had no increased risk to develop one of the 4 types of MHD compared to the reference population. The SHD had at T1 and T2 good 5-times a higher risk for somatization, about 4-times for depression and sleeping disorders, and 5- to 6-times for anxiety disorders respectively. Further, they suffered 13 times, respectively 17 times more from all mental disorders together.
The present study calls attention to the fact that mental health problems disturbances are significantly more prevalent and long-lasting among survivors who have directly been exposed to human damage.
PMCID: PMC4403888  PMID: 25897399
Technological disaster; Mental health disturbances; Disaster survivors
7.  Dietary sources of energy and macronutrient intakes among Flemish preschoolers 
This study aims to identify major food sources of energy and macronutrients among Flemish preschoolers as a basis for evaluating dietary guidelines. Three-day estimated diet records were collected from a representative sample of 696 Flemish preschoolers (2.5-6.5 years old; participation response rate: 50%). For 11 dietary constituents, the contribution of 57 food groups was computed by summing the amount provided by the food group for all individuals divided by the total intake of the respective nutrient for all individuals. Bread (12%), sweet snacks (12%), milk (6%), flavoured milk drinks (9%), and meat products (6%) were the top five energy contributors. Sweet snacks were among the top contributors to energy, total fat, all fatty acids, cholesterol, and complex and simple carbohydrates. Fruit juices and flavoured milk drinks are the main contributors to simple carbohydrates (respectively 14% and 18%). All principal food groups like water, bread and cereals, vegetables, fruit, milk and spreadable fats were under-consumed by more than 30% of the population, while the food groups that were over-consumed consisted only of low nutritious and high energy dense foods (sweet snacks, sugared drinks, fried potatoes, sauces and sweet spreads). From the major food sources and gaps in nutrient and food intakes, some recommendations to pursue the nutritional goals could be drawn: the intake of sweet snacks and sugar-rich drinks (incl. fruit juices) should be discouraged, while consumption of fruits, vegetables, water, bread and margarine on bread should be encouraged.
PMCID: PMC3436670  PMID: 22958525

Results 1-7 (7)