Riviste scientifiche

Fungi that live on eucalyptus roots can control trees' gene activity

New Scientist - Lu, 10/01/2022 - 21:00
Eucalyptus trees rely on root fungi to source nutrients and water – but the fungi actually control the genetic development of the tree roots by releasing tiny chunks of RNA

Corkscrew-shaped robot swims through blood vessels to clear blockages

New Scientist - Lu, 10/01/2022 - 17:01
Laboratory tests show a tiny robot with a helical propeller inspired by bacteria can swim through veins and deliver clot-busting drugs

What dolphins reveal about the evolution of the clitoris

New Scientist - Lu, 10/01/2022 - 17:00
Patricia Brennan's latest research suggests that bottlenose dolphins have clitorises that evolved for pleasure. She tells New Scientist why it's important to study animal genitalia

Ancient Egyptian mummy of a young girl is first with a bandaged wound

New Scientist - Lu, 10/01/2022 - 16:16
The ancient Egyptians were adept at bandaging dead bodies during the mummification process, but we have had no evidence of the way they dressed flesh wounds until now  

Obstetric interventions and pregnancy outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic in England: A nationwide cohort study

PLoS Medicine - Lu, 10/01/2022 - 15:00

by Ipek Gurol-Urganci, Lara Waite, Kirstin Webster, Jennifer Jardine, Fran Carroll, George Dunn, Alissa Frémeaux, Tina Harris, Jane Hawdon, Patrick Muller, Jan van der Meulen, Asma Khalil


The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted maternity services worldwide and imposed restrictions on societal behaviours. This national study aimed to compare obstetric intervention and pregnancy outcome rates in England during the pandemic and corresponding pre-pandemic calendar periods, and to assess whether differences in these rates varied according to ethnic and socioeconomic background.

Methods and findings

We conducted a national study of singleton births in English National Health Service hospitals. We compared births during the COVID-19 pandemic period (23 March 2020 to 22 February 2021) with births during the corresponding calendar period 1 year earlier. The Hospital Episode Statistics database provided administrative hospital data about maternal characteristics, obstetric inventions (induction of labour, elective or emergency cesarean section, and instrumental birth), and outcomes (stillbirth, preterm birth, small for gestational age [SGA; birthweight < 10th centile], prolonged maternal length of stay (≥3 days), and maternal 42-day readmission). Multi-level logistic regression models were used to compare intervention and outcome rates between the corresponding pre-pandemic and pandemic calendar periods and to test for interactions between pandemic period and ethnic and socioeconomic background. All models were adjusted for maternal characteristics including age, obstetric history, comorbidities, and COVID-19 status at birth. The study included 948,020 singleton births (maternal characteristics: median age 30 years, 41.6% primiparous, 8.3% with gestational diabetes, 2.4% with preeclampsia, and 1.6% with pre-existing diabetes or hypertension); 451,727 births occurred during the defined pandemic period. Maternal characteristics were similar in the pre-pandemic and pandemic periods. Compared to the pre-pandemic period, stillbirth rates remained similar (0.36% pandemic versus 0.37% pre-pandemic, p = 0.16). Preterm birth and SGA birth rates were slightly lower during the pandemic (6.0% versus 6.1% for preterm births, adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0.96, 95% CI 0.94–0.97; 5.6% versus 5.8% for SGA births, aOR 0.95, 95% CI 0.93–0.96; both p < 0.001). Slightly higher rates of obstetric intervention were observed during the pandemic (40.4% versus 39.1% for induction of labour, aOR 1.04, 95% CI 1.03–1.05; 13.9% versus 12.9% for elective cesarean section, aOR 1.13, 95% CI 1.11–1.14; 18.4% versus 17.0% for emergency cesarean section, aOR 1.07, 95% CI 1.06–1.08; all p < 0.001). Lower rates of prolonged maternal length of stay (16.7% versus 20.2%, aOR 0.77, 95% CI 0.76–0.78, p < 0.001) and maternal readmission (3.0% versus 3.3%, aOR 0.88, 95% CI 0.86–0.90, p < 0.001) were observed during the pandemic period. There was some evidence that differences in the rates of preterm birth, emergency cesarean section, and unassisted vaginal birth varied according to the mother’s ethnic background but not according to her socioeconomic background. A key limitation is that multiple comparisons were made, increasing the chance of false-positive results.


In this study, we found very small decreases in preterm birth and SGA birth rates and very small increases in induction of labour and elective and emergency cesarean section during the COVID-19 pandemic, with some evidence of a slightly different pattern of results in women from ethnic minority backgrounds. These changes in obstetric intervention rates and pregnancy outcomes may be linked to women’s behaviour, environmental exposure, changes in maternity practice, or reduced staffing levels.

Outsider wins DARPA challenge to predict where floats drift at sea

New Scientist - Lu, 10/01/2022 - 14:15
A competition to forecast the locations of 90 floats drifting in the Atlantic could lead to better methods for tracking oil slicks and locating shipwreck survivors

Covid-19 news: Ministers plan for UK to ‘live with covid’

New Scientist - Lu, 10/01/2022 - 13:32
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

Covid-19 testing in the time of omicron: Everything you need to know

New Scientist - Lu, 10/01/2022 - 13:09
With omicron infections surging around the world, many countries are changing their coronavirus testing guidelines to better deal with the new variant and the huge number of cases it is causing. Here's what you need to know

James Webb Space Telescope has finished unfolding its massive mirror

New Scientist - Lu, 10/01/2022 - 12:14
The space telescope has successfully completed a series of crucial steps to achieve full deployment, and will now continue to its final destination 1.5 million kilometres away from Earth

UK’s largest ichthyosaur fossil was a 10-metre-long apex predator

New Scientist - Lu, 10/01/2022 - 01:01
The largest ichthyosaur fossil ever found in the UK has been unearthed in the Rutland Water Nature Reserve

[Editorial] Children and adolescents deserve a better future

The Lancet - Sa, 08/01/2022 - 00:00
In January, 2020, we announced a Lancet campaign on child and adolescent health. Our intention was to refocus on child mortality, and on the recognition that adolescents matter in global health, at a time when progress had stalled or in some cases reversed amid changing political and environmental circumstances. Little did we know then what the next 2 years would bring.

[Comment] Offline: The origins story—towards a Deep Ecology

The Lancet - Sa, 08/01/2022 - 00:00
Whatever the precise origins of SARS-CoV-2, one doesn’t have to wait for the definitive source of COVID-19 to be identified before important lessons are learned—lessons that the global health community presently seems to be ignoring. There are four immediate priorities. First, countries must strengthen public health surveillance to deliver a globally robust early warning system for pneumonias of unknown aetiology. The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, chaired by Helen Clark and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, made this recommendation in their May, 2021 report to the World Health Assembly.

[World Report] Challenges ahead for new UNICEF leader

The Lancet - Sa, 08/01/2022 - 00:00
Catherine Russell replaces Henrietta Fore as UNICEF's executive director. Udani Samarasekera assesses Fore's legacy and the future of the organisation.

[World Report] Humanitarian need in 2022

The Lancet - Sa, 08/01/2022 - 00:00
An estimated 1 in 29 people worldwide will need humanitarian assistance in 2022. Sharmila Devi looks ahead to the major hotspots and issues in the coming year.

[Perspectives] Simukai Chigudu: elucidating the politics of global health

The Lancet - Sa, 08/01/2022 - 00:00
In 2003, aged 16 years, Simukai Chigudu came to the UK as a student from Zimbabwe, a country in political upheaval as opposition to the then President Robert Mugabe grew. A year later, Chigudu began a medical degree at Newcastle University. It was, he recalls, an unsettling time: “I felt this sense of being caught between worlds, where I was really struggling to be at one with my new setting in Newcastle, and yet I could never feel disencumbered of home. The more that things in Zimbabwe had deteriorated, the more powerless I felt…It was as if my own sense of identity was being fragmented as much as the country was being fragmented.

[Perspectives] The fall of a poisoned empire

The Lancet - Sa, 08/01/2022 - 00:00
Arthur M Sackler (1913–87) was a psychiatrist, researcher, and the owner of a boutique marketing agency. When he was inducted into the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame in 1997, his citation was: “No single individual did more to shape the character of medical advertising than the multi-talented Dr Arthur Sackler”. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that between 1999 and 2019, nearly 500 000 people in the USA died from an opioid overdose, including prescription and illicit opioids.

[Perspectives] The wall

The Lancet - Sa, 08/01/2022 - 00:00
If she likes you, you go on the wall. Queen Fairy who sat with her during her chemotherapy. Her first carer who was the best of the rest. Wonder Woman from the local council who calls every week and the Joker who stands in when Wonder Woman is away. Butterfly, the first of the befriender volunteers, and the others who came after. Darling Postman who delivers all the online purchases she uses to make her world of stickers, poems, and dreamcatchers. Scarlett Pimpernel from Age UK who always gets back to her, but does not stop by as often as she would like.

[Correspondence] Racialised people in clinical guideline panels

The Lancet - Sa, 08/01/2022 - 00:00
Clinical practice guidelines can include recommendations with important implications for health equity; therefore, guideline panels should comprise individuals positioned to make relevant recommendations, including those that reflect the diversity of the priority population.1 Women are under-represented in guideline panels, and, although the inclusion of racialised people in guideline panels has received less attention, racialised clinicians are discriminated against in training and hiring.2–4 We determined the extent to which guideline panels included racialised people and women.

[Correspondence] Strengthening the reporting of stillbirths globally

The Lancet - Sa, 08/01/2022 - 00:00
The UN recommends the continu-ous, permanent, universal, and compulsory registration of ten vital events, including stillbirths.1 Yet, civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) improvement efforts have focused almost exclusively on birth and death registration, resulting in gains in those areas in recent decades.2 It is time to increase the completeness of stillbirth registration through its inclusion in CRVS strengthening efforts.

[Correspondence] Strengthening the reporting of stillbirths globally

The Lancet - Sa, 08/01/2022 - 00:00
In their excellent Article, Lucia Hug and colleagues1 systematically assessed about two decades of stillbirth estimates acquired from national administrative records of 195 countries and report an alarming trend that demands expeditious action, if the Every Newborn Action Plan target of reducing stillbirths to fewer than 12 per 1000 is to be achieved by 2030.2
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