Riviste scientifiche

Covid-19 news: Results from world’s first human challenge trial

New Scientist - Me, 02/02/2022 - 14:54
The latest coronavirus news updated every day including coronavirus cases, the latest news, features and interviews from New Scientist and essential information about the covid-19 pandemic

UK's spring flowers are blooming a month early due to climate change

New Scientist - Me, 02/02/2022 - 02:01
The shift to early flowering in the UK is greater for smaller plants than trees and shrubs, and is related to warming temperatures in winter and spring over the past 70 years

Learning styles in fruit flies may not be related to nature or nurture

New Scientist - Me, 02/02/2022 - 02:01
Fruit flies that are nearly genetically identical raised in the same environment still learn at different rates, suggesting that random differences in brain development may have evolved to produce variation in a species

Female baboons that had a tough infancy are less sociable as adults

New Scientist - Me, 02/02/2022 - 02:01
Baboons are sociable primates, but females that had a tough early life – because of the loss of their mother or a lack of food – find socialising harder

[Articles] Pandemic preparedness and COVID-19: an exploratory analysis of infection and fatality rates, and contextual factors associated with preparedness in 177 countries, from Jan 1, 2020, to Sept 30, 2021

The Lancet - Me, 02/02/2022 - 01:30
Efforts to improve pandemic preparedness and response for the next pandemic might benefit from greater investment in risk communication and community engagement strategies to boost the confidence that individuals have in public health guidance. Our results suggest that increasing health promotion for key modifiable risks is associated with a reduction of fatalities in such a scenario.

Safe havens for coral reefs will disappear with 2°C of global warming

New Scientist - Ma, 01/02/2022 - 21:00
Cooler regions of the sea that protect coral reefs will be virtually wiped out by the end of this century, even under optimistic climate change scenarios

Extreme marine heatwaves are now normal for the world's oceans

New Scientist - Ma, 01/02/2022 - 21:00
2014 marked the first time more than half of global ocean surface recorded temperatures considered extreme compared to a historical average

Cervical swabs could identify people at high risk of ovarian cancer

New Scientist - Ma, 01/02/2022 - 18:00
A DNA analysis of cervical cells taken from routine smear tests could identify people who might benefit from additional screening for ovarian cancer

Moons might not form around rocky planets much larger than Earth

New Scientist - Ma, 01/02/2022 - 18:00
Astronomers have found lots of exoplanets but not much evidence of exomoons, and a new model might explain why

[Comment] REDUCE LAP-HF II interatrial shunt trial: neutral, but necessary

The Lancet - Ma, 01/02/2022 - 16:15
Heart failure affects more than 26 million people worldwide, of whom nearly 50% will die within 5 years and over 30% routinely have symptoms with minimal exertion despite advances in pharmacological therapy.1 Elevated left atrial pressure is a well established target of therapy for patients with heart failure irrespective of their left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF).2 Based on these observations, left atrial unloading via an interatrial shunt was proposed as an approach to deliver excess left atrial volume into the right atrium, thereby decreasing left atrial pressure and pulsatile load on the pulmonic circulation.

[Articles] Atrial shunt device for heart failure with preserved and mildly reduced ejection fraction (REDUCE LAP-HF II): a randomised, multicentre, blinded, sham-controlled trial

The Lancet - Ma, 01/02/2022 - 16:15
Placement of an atrial shunt device did not reduce the total rate of heart failure events or improve health status in the overall population of patients with heart failure and ejection fraction of greater than or equal to 40%.

Low-dose aspirin for the prevention of preterm birth: More questions than answers

PLoS Medicine - Ma, 01/02/2022 - 16:00

by Victoria Hodgetts Morton, Sarah J. Stock

Risks of specific congenital anomalies in offspring of women with diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of population-based studies including over 80 million births

PLoS Medicine - Ma, 01/02/2022 - 16:00

by Tie-Ning Zhang, Xin-Mei Huang, Xin-Yi Zhao, Wei Wang, Ri Wen, Shan-Yan Gao

Background

Pre-gestational diabetes mellitus (PGDM) has been known to be a risk factor for congenital heart defects (CHDs) for decades. However, the associations between maternal PGDM and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and the risk of specific types of CHDs and congenital anomalies (CAs) in other systems remain under debate. We aimed to investigate type-specific CAs in offspring of women with diabetes and to examine the extent to which types of maternal diabetes are associated with increased risk of CAs in offspring.

Methods and findings

We searched PubMed and Embase from database inception to 15 October 2021 for population-based studies reporting on type-specific CAs in offspring born to women with PGDM (combined type 1 and 2) or GDM, with no limitation on language. Reviewers extracted data for relevant outcomes and performed random effects meta-analyses, subgroup analyses, and multivariable meta-regression. Risk of bias appraisal was performed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool. This study was registered in PROSPERO (CRD42021229217). Primary outcomes were overall CAs and CHDs. Secondary outcomes were type-specific CAs. Overall, 59 population-based studies published from 1990 to 2021 with 80,437,056 participants met the inclusion criteria. Of the participants, 2,407,862 (3.0%) women had PGDM and 2,353,205 (2.9%) women had GDM. The meta-analyses showed increased risks of overall CAs/CHDs in offspring born to women with PGDM (for overall CAs, relative risk [RR] = 1.99, 95% CI 1.82 to 2.17, P < 0.001; for CHDs, RR = 3.46, 95% CI 2.77 to 4.32, P < 0.001) or GDM (for overall CAs, RR = 1.18, 95% CI 1.13 to 1.23, P < 0.001; for CHDs, RR = 1.50, 95% CI 1.38 to 1.64, P < 0.001). The results of the meta-regression analyses showed significant differences in RRs of CAs/CHDs in PGDM versus GDM (all P < 0.001). Of the 23 CA categories, excluding CHD-related categories, in offspring, maternal PGDM was associated with a significantly increased risk of CAs in 21 categories; the corresponding RRs ranged from 1.57 (for hypospadias, 95% CI 1.22 to 2.02) to 18.18 (for holoprosencephaly, 95% CI 4.03 to 82.06). Maternal GDM was associated with a small but significant increase in the risk of CAs in 9 categories; the corresponding RRs ranged from 1.14 (for limb reduction, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.23) to 5.70 (for heterotaxia, 95% CI 1.09 to 29.92). The main limitation of our analysis is that some high significant heterogeneity still persisted in both subgroup and sensitivity analyses.

Conclusions

In this study, we observed an increased rate of CAs in offspring of women with diabetes and noted the differences for PGDM versus GDM. The RRs of overall CAs and CHDs in offspring of women with PGDM were higher than those in offspring of women with GDM. Screening for diabetes in pregnant women may enable better glycemic control, and may enable identification of offspring at risk for CAs.

Evaluation of low-dose aspirin in the prevention of recurrent spontaneous preterm labour (the APRIL study): A multicentre, randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial

PLoS Medicine - Ma, 01/02/2022 - 16:00

by Anadeijda J. E. M. C. Landman, Marjon A. de Boer, Laura Visser, Tobias A. J. Nijman, Marieke A. C. Hemels, Christiana N. Naaktgeboren, Marijke C. van der Weide, Ben W. Mol, Judith O. E. H. van Laar, Dimitri N. M. Papatsonis, Mireille N. Bekker, Joris van Drongelen, Mariëlle G. van Pampus, Marieke Sueters, David P. van der Ham, J. Marko Sikkema, Joost J. Zwart, Anjoke J. M. Huisjes, Marloes E. van Huizen, Gunilla Kleiverda, Janine Boon, Maureen T. M. Franssen, Wietske Hermes, Harry Visser, Christianne J. M. de Groot, Martijn A. Oudijk

Background

Preterm birth is the leading cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality. The recurrence rate of spontaneous preterm birth is high, and additional preventive measures are required. Our objective was to assess the effectiveness of low-dose aspirin compared to placebo in the prevention of preterm birth in women with a previous spontaneous preterm birth.

Methods and findings

We performed a parallel multicentre, randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial (the APRIL study). The study was performed in 8 tertiary and 26 secondary care hospitals in the Netherlands. We included women with a singleton pregnancy and a history of spontaneous preterm birth of a singleton between 22 and 37 weeks. Participants were randomly assigned to aspirin 80 mg daily or placebo initiated between 8 and 16 weeks of gestation and continued until 36 weeks or delivery. Randomisation was computer generated, with allocation concealment by using sequentially numbered medication containers. Participants, their healthcare providers, and researchers were blinded for treatment allocation. The primary outcome was preterm birth <37 weeks of gestation. Secondary outcomes included a composite of poor neonatal outcome (bronchopulmonary dysplasia, periventricular leukomalacia > grade 1, intraventricular hemorrhage > grade 2, necrotising enterocolitis > stage 1, retinopathy of prematurity, culture proven sepsis, or perinatal death). Analyses were performed by intention to treat.From May 31, 2016 to June 13, 2019, 406 women were randomised to aspirin (n = 204) or placebo (n = 202). A total of 387 women (81.1% of white ethnic origin, mean age 32.5 ± SD 3.8) were included in the final analysis: 194 women were allocated to aspirin and 193 to placebo. Preterm birth <37 weeks occurred in 41 (21.2%) women in the aspirin group and 49 (25.4%) in the placebo group (relative risk (RR) 0.83, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.58 to 1.20, p = 0.32). In women with ≥80% medication adherence, preterm birth occurred in 24 (19.2%) versus 30 (24.8%) women (RR 0.77, 95% CI 0.48 to 1.25, p = 0.29). The rate of the composite of poor neonatal outcome was 4.6% (n = 9) versus 2.6% (n = 5) (RR 1.79, 95% CI 0.61 to 5.25, p = 0.29). Among all randomised women, serious adverse events occurred in 11 out of 204 (5.4%) women allocated to aspirin and 11 out of 202 (5.4%) women allocated to placebo. None of these serious adverse events was considered to be associated with treatment allocation. The main study limitation is the underpowered sample size due to the lower than expected preterm birth rates.

Conclusions

In this study, we observed that low-dose aspirin did not significantly reduce the preterm birth rate in women with a previous spontaneous preterm birth. However, a modest reduction of preterm birth with aspirin cannot be ruled out. Further research is required to determine a possible beneficial effect of low-dose aspirin for women with a previous spontaneous preterm birth.

Trial registration

Dutch Trial Register (NL5553, NTR5675) https://www.trialregister.nl/trial/5553.

The impact of pictorial health warnings on purchases of sugary drinks for children: A randomized controlled trial

PLoS Medicine - Ma, 01/02/2022 - 16:00

by Marissa G. Hall, Anna H. Grummon, Isabella C. A. Higgins, Allison J. Lazard, Carmen E. Prestemon, Mirian I. Avendaño-Galdamez, Lindsey Smith Taillie

Background

Pictorial warnings on tobacco products are promising for motivating behavior change, but few studies have examined pictorial warnings for sugary drinks, especially in naturalistic environments. This study aimed to examine the impact of pictorial warnings on parents’ purchases of sugary drinks for their children in a naturalistic store laboratory.

Methods and findings

Parents of children ages 2 to 12 (n = 325, 25% identifying as Black, 20% Hispanic) completed a shopping task in a naturalistic store laboratory in North Carolina. Participants were randomly assigned to a pictorial warnings arm (sugary drinks displayed pictorial health warnings about type 2 diabetes and heart damage) or a control arm (sugary drinks displayed a barcode label). Parents selected 1 beverage and 1 snack for their child, as well as 1 household good; one of these items was selected for them to purchase and take home. The primary outcome was whether parents purchased a sugary drink for their child. Secondary outcomes included reactions to the trial labels, attitudes toward sugary drinks, and intentions to serve their child sugary drinks. Pictorial warnings led to a 17-percentage point reduction in purchases of sugary drinks (95% CI for reduction: 7% to 27%), with 45% of parents in the control arm buying a sugary drink for their child compared to 28% in the pictorial warning arm (p = 0.002). The impact of pictorial warnings on purchases did not differ by any of the 13 participant characteristics examined (e.g., race/ethnicity, income, education, and age of child). Pictorial warnings also led to lower calories (kcal), purchased from sugary drinks (82 kcal in the control arm versus 52 kcal in the pictorial warnings arm, p = 0.003). Moreover, pictorial warnings led to lower intentions to serve sugary drinks to their child, feeling more in control of healthy eating decisions, greater thinking about the harms of sugary drinks, stronger negative emotional reactions, greater anticipated social interactions, lower perceived healthfulness of sugary drinks for their child, and greater injunctive norms to limit sugary drinks for their child (all p < 0.05). There was no evidence of difference between trial arms on noticing of the labels, appeal of sugary drinks, perceived amount of added sugar in sugary drinks, risk perceptions, or perceived tastiness of sugary drinks (all p > 0.05).

Conclusions

Pictorial warnings reduced parents’ purchases of sugary drinks for their children in this naturalistic trial. Warnings on sugary drinks are a promising policy approach to reduce sugary drink purchasing in the US.

Trial registration

The trial design, measures, power calculation, and analytic plan were registered before data collection at www.clinicaltrials.gov NCT04223687.

Obesity and risk of female reproductive conditions: A Mendelian randomisation study

PLoS Medicine - Ma, 01/02/2022 - 16:00

by Samvida S. Venkatesh, Teresa Ferreira, Stefania Benonisdottir, Nilufer Rahmioglu, Christian M. Becker, Ingrid Granne, Krina T. Zondervan, Michael V. Holmes, Cecilia M. Lindgren, Laura B. L. Wittemans

Background

Obesity is observationally associated with altered risk of many female reproductive conditions. These include polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), abnormal uterine bleeding, endometriosis, infertility, and pregnancy-related disorders. However, the roles and mechanisms of obesity in the aetiology of reproductive disorders remain unclear. Thus, we aimed to estimate observational and genetically predicted causal associations between obesity, metabolic hormones, and female reproductive disorders.

Methods and findings

Logistic regression, generalised additive models, and Mendelian randomisation (MR) (2-sample, non-linear, and multivariable) were applied to obesity and reproductive disease data on up to 257,193 women of European ancestry in UK Biobank and publicly available genome-wide association studies (GWASs). Body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), and WHR adjusted for BMI were observationally (odds ratios [ORs] = 1.02–1.87 per 1-SD increase in obesity trait) and genetically (ORs = 1.06–2.09) associated with uterine fibroids (UF), PCOS, heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB), and pre-eclampsia. Genetically predicted visceral adipose tissue (VAT) mass was associated with the development of HMB (OR [95% CI] per 1-kg increase in predicted VAT mass = 1.32 [1.06–1.64], P = 0.0130), PCOS (OR [95% CI] = 1.15 [1.08–1.23], P = 3.24 × 10−05), and pre-eclampsia (OR [95% CI] = 3.08 [1.98–4.79], P = 6.65 × 10−07). Increased waist circumference posed a higher genetic risk (ORs = 1.16–1.93) for the development of these disorders and UF than did increased hip circumference (ORs = 1.06–1.10). Leptin, fasting insulin, and insulin resistance each mediated between 20% and 50% of the total genetically predicted association of obesity with pre-eclampsia. Reproductive conditions clustered based on shared genetic components of their aetiological relationships with obesity. This study was limited in power by the low prevalence of female reproductive conditions among women in the UK Biobank, with little information on pre-diagnostic anthropometric traits, and by the susceptibility of MR estimates to genetic pleiotropy.

Conclusions

We found that common indices of overall and central obesity were associated with increased risks of reproductive disorders to heterogenous extents in a systematic, large-scale genetics-based analysis of the aetiological relationships between obesity and female reproductive conditions. Our results suggest the utility of exploring the mechanisms mediating the causal associations of overweight and obesity with gynaecological health to identify targets for disease prevention and treatment.

Huge genetic database includes over 9000 species of flowering plants

New Scientist - Ma, 01/02/2022 - 14:00
Public library of DNA sequences will allow botanists to track the complex evolutionary history of flowering plants in unprecedented detail

Covid-19 news: Mandatory vaccines scrapped for NHS workers in England

New Scientist - Ma, 01/02/2022 - 13:10
The latest coronavirus news updated every day including coronavirus cases, the latest news, features and interviews from New Scientist and essential information about the covid-19 pandemic

Lightning flash measuring 768 kilometres is the longest ever recorded

New Scientist - Ma, 01/02/2022 - 02:01
Two record-breaking lightning flashes occurred in 2020: one with a length of 768 kilometres is the longest ever recorded, while another with a duration of 17 seconds is the longest-lasting flash ever detected

[Comment] The precariousness of balancing life and death

The Lancet - Ma, 01/02/2022 - 01:30
Despite the centrality of death to our lives, people from many societies avoid meaningful conversations about death, and its value as a fundamental human experience has been largely lost. Diminishing the inevitability and humanity of death has obscured our understanding of health and life.
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