Globally, suicide accounts for 5.2% of deaths among persons aged 15 to 44 years and its incidence is rising. In Australia, suicide rates peaked in 1997 and have been declining since. A substantial part of that decline stems from a plunge in suicides by one particular method: asphyxiation by motor vehicle exhaust gas (MVEG). Although MVEG remains the second most common method of suicide in Australia, its incidence decreased by nearly 70% in the decade to 2006. The extent to which this phenomenon has been driven by national laws in 1986 and 1999 that lowered permissible levels of carbon monoxide (CO) emissions is unknown. The objective of this ecological study was to test the relationship by investigating whether areas of Australia with fewer noxious vehicles per capita experienced lower rates of MVEG suicide.
Methods and findings:
We merged data on MVEG suicides in Australia (2001-06) with data on the number and age of vehicles in the national fleet, as well as socio-demographic data from the national census. Poisson regression was used to analyse the relationship between the incidence of suicide within two levels of geographical area--postcodes and statistical subdivisions (SSDs)--and the population density of pre-1986 and pre-1999 passenger vehicles in those areas. (There was a mean population of 8,302 persons per postcode in the study dataset and 87,413 persons per SSD.) The annual incidence of MVEG suicides nationwide decreased by 57% (from 2.6 per 100,000 in 2001 to 1.1 in 2006) during the study period; the population density of pre-1986 and pre-1999 vehicles decreased by 55% (from 14.2 per 100 persons in 2001 to 6.4 in 2006) and 26% (from 44.5 per 100 persons in 2001 to 32.9 in 2006), respectively. Area-level regression analysis showed that the suicide rates were significantly and positively correlated with the presence of older vehicles. A percentage point decrease in the population density of pre-1986 vehicles was associated with a 6% decrease (rate ratio [RR] = 1.06; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.05-1.08) in the incidence of MVEG suicide within postcode areas; a percentage point decrease in the population density of pre-1999 vehicles was associated with a 3% decrease (RR = 1.03; 95% CI 1.02-1.04) in the incidence of MVEG suicide.
Areas of Australia with fewer vehicles predating stringent CO emission laws experience lower rates of MVEG suicide. Although those emission laws were introduced primarily for environmental reasons, countries that lack them may miss the benefits of a serendipitous suicide prevention strategy. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
In late spring 2009, concern was raised in Canada that prior vaccination with the 2008-09 trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (TIV) was associated with increased risk of pandemic influenza A (H1N1) (pH1N1) illness. Several epidemiologic investigations were conducted through the summer to assess this putative association.
STUDIES INCLUDED: (1) test-negative case-control design based on Canada's sentinel vaccine effectiveness monitoring system in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec; (2) conventional case-control design using population controls in Quebec; (3) test-negative case-control design in Ontario; and (4) prospective household transmission (cohort) study in Quebec. Logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios for TIV effect on community- or hospital-based laboratory-confirmed seasonal or pH1N1 influenza cases compared to controls with restriction, stratification, and adjustment for covariates including combinations of age, sex, comorbidity, timeliness of medical visit, prior physician visits, and/or health care worker (HCW) status. For the prospective study risk ratios were computed. Based on the sentinel study of 672 cases and 857 controls, 2008-09 TIV was associated with statistically significant protection against seasonal influenza (odds ratio 0.44, 95% CI 0.33-0.59). In contrast, estimates from the sentinel and three other observational studies, involving a total of 1,226 laboratory-confirmed pH1N1 cases and 1,505 controls, indicated that prior receipt of 2008-09 TIV was associated with increased risk of medically attended pH1N1 illness during the spring-summer 2009, with estimated risk or odds ratios ranging from 1.4 to 2.5. Risk of pH1N1 hospitalization was not further increased among vaccinated people when comparing hospitalized to community cases.
Prior receipt of 2008-09 TIV was associated with increased risk of medically attended pH1N1 illness during the spring-summer 2009 in Canada. The occurrence of bias (selection, information) or confounding cannot be ruled out. Further experimental and epidemiological assessment is warranted. Possible biological mechanisms and immunoepidemiologic implications are considered.
Immunohistochemical markers are often used to classify breast cancer into subtypes that are biologically distinct and behave differently. The aim of this study was to estimate mortality for patients with the major subtypes of breast cancer as classified using five immunohistochemical markers, to investigate patterns of mortality over time, and to test for heterogeneity by subtype.
We pooled data from more than 10,000 cases of invasive breast cancer from 12 studies that had collected information on hormone receptor status, human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2) status, and at least one basal marker (cytokeratin [CK]5/6 or epidermal growth factor receptor [EGFR]) together with survival time data. Tumours were classified as luminal and nonluminal tumours according to hormone receptor expression. These two groups were further subdivided according to expression of HER2, and finally, the luminal and nonluminal HER2-negative tumours were categorised according to expression of basal markers. Changes in mortality rates over time differed by subtype. In women with luminal HER2-negative subtypes, mortality rates were constant over time, whereas mortality rates associated with the luminal HER2-positive and nonluminal subtypes tended to peak within 5 y of diagnosis and then decline over time. In the first 5 y after diagnosis the nonluminal tumours were associated with a poorer prognosis, but over longer follow-up times the prognosis was poorer in the luminal subtypes, with the worst prognosis at 15 y being in the luminal HER2-positive tumours. Basal marker expression distinguished the HER2-negative luminal and nonluminal tumours into different subtypes. These patterns were independent of any systemic adjuvant therapy.
The six subtypes of breast cancer defined by expression of five markers show distinct behaviours with important differences in short term and long term prognosis. Application of these markers in the clinical setting could have the potential to improve the targeting of adjuvant chemotherapy to those most likely to benefit. The different patterns of mortality over time also suggest important biological differences between the subtypes that may result in differences in response to specific therapies, and that stratification of breast cancers by clinically relevant subtypes in clinical trials is urgently required.
Lung adenocarcinomas from patients who respond to the tyrosine kinase inhibitors gefitinib (Iressa) or erlotinib (Tarceva) usually harbor somatic gain-of-function mutations in exons encoding the kinase domain of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Despite initial responses, patients eventually progress by unknown mechanisms of "acquired" resistance.
We show that in two of five patients with acquired resistance to gefitinib or erlotinib, progressing tumors contain, in addition to a primary drug-sensitive mutation in EGFR, a secondary mutation in exon 20, which leads to substitution of methionine for threonine at position 790 (T790M) in the kinase domain. Tumor cells from a sixth patient with a drug-sensitive EGFR mutation whose tumor progressed on adjuvant gefitinib after complete resection also contained the T790M mutation. This mutation was not detected in untreated tumor samples. Moreover, no tumors with acquired resistance had KRAS mutations, which have been associated with primary resistance to these drugs. Biochemical analyses of transfected cells and growth inhibition studies with lung cancer cell lines demonstrate that the T790M mutation confers resistance to EGFR mutants usually sensitive to either gefitinib or erlotinib. Interestingly, a mutation analogous to T790M has been observed in other kinases with acquired resistance to another kinase inhibitor, imatinib (Gleevec).
In patients with tumors bearing gefitinib- or erlotinib-sensitive EGFR mutations, resistant subclones containing an additional EGFR mutation emerge in the presence of drug. This observation should help guide the search for more effective therapy against a specific subset of lung cancers.
Bereavement is a universal experience, and its association with excess morbidity and mortality is well established. Nevertheless, grief becomes a serious health concern for a relative few. For such individuals, intense grief persists, is distressing and disabling, and may meet criteria as a distinct mental disorder. At present, grief is not recognized as a mental disorder in the DSM-IV or ICD-10. The goal of this study was to determine the psychometric validity of criteria for prolonged grief disorder (PGD) to enhance the detection and potential treatment of bereaved individuals at heightened risk of persistent distress and dysfunction.
A total of 291 bereaved respondents were interviewed three times, grouped as 0-6, 6-12, and 12-24 mo post-loss. Item response theory (IRT) analyses derived the most informative, unbiased PGD symptoms. Combinatoric analyses identified the most sensitive and specific PGD algorithm that was then tested to evaluate its psychometric validity. Criteria require reactions to a significant loss that involve the experience of yearning (e.g., physical or emotional suffering as a result of the desired, but unfulfilled, reunion with the deceased) and at least five of the following nine symptoms experienced at least daily or to a disabling degree: feeling emotionally numb, stunned, or that life is meaningless; experiencing mistrust; bitterness over the loss; difficulty accepting the loss; identity confusion; avoidance of the reality of the loss; or difficulty moving on with life. Symptoms must be present at sufficiently high levels at least six mo from the death and be associated with functional impairment.
The criteria set for PGD appear able to identify bereaved persons at heightened risk for enduring distress and dysfunction. The results support the psychometric validity of the criteria for PGD that we propose for inclusion in DSM-V and ICD-11. Please see later in the article for Editors' Summary.
Global and regional projections of mortality and burden of disease by cause for the years 2000, 2010, and 2030 were published by Murray and Lopez in 1996 as part of the Global Burden of Disease project. These projections, which are based on 1990 data, continue to be widely quoted, although they are substantially outdated; in particular, they substantially underestimated the spread of HIV/AIDS. To address the widespread demand for information on likely future trends in global health, and thereby to support international health policy and priority setting, we have prepared new projections of mortality and burden of disease to 2030 starting from World Health Organization estimates of mortality and burden of disease for 2002. This paper describes the methods, assumptions, input data, and results.
Relatively simple models were used to project future health trends under three scenarios-baseline, optimistic, and pessimistic-based largely on projections of economic and social development, and using the historically observed relationships of these with cause-specific mortality rates. Data inputs have been updated to take account of the greater availability of death registration data and the latest available projections for HIV/AIDS, income, human capital, tobacco smoking, body mass index, and other inputs. In all three scenarios there is a dramatic shift in the distribution of deaths from younger to older ages and from communicable, maternal, perinatal, and nutritional causes to noncommunicable disease causes. The risk of death for children younger than 5 y is projected to fall by nearly 50% in the baseline scenario between 2002 and 2030. The proportion of deaths due to noncommunicable disease is projected to rise from 59% in 2002 to 69% in 2030. Global HIV/AIDS deaths are projected to rise from 2.8 million in 2002 to 6.5 million in 2030 under the baseline scenario, which assumes coverage with antiretroviral drugs reaches 80% by 2012. Under the optimistic scenario, which also assumes increased prevention activity, HIV/AIDS deaths are projected to drop to 3.7 million in 2030. Total tobacco-attributable deaths are projected to rise from 5.4 million in 2005 to 6.4 million in 2015 and 8.3 million in 2030 under our baseline scenario. Tobacco is projected to kill 50% more people in 2015 than HIV/AIDS, and to be responsible for 10% of all deaths globally. The three leading causes of burden of disease in 2030 are projected to include HIV/AIDS, unipolar depressive disorders, and ischaemic heart disease in the baseline and pessimistic scenarios. Road traffic accidents are the fourth leading cause in the baseline scenario, and the third leading cause ahead of ischaemic heart disease in the optimistic scenario. Under the baseline scenario, HIV/AIDS becomes the leading cause of burden of disease in middle- and low-income countries by 2015.
These projections represent a set of three visions of the future for population health, based on certain explicit assumptions. Despite the wide uncertainty ranges around future projections, they enable us to appreciate better the implications for health and health policy of currently observed trends, and the likely impact of fairly certain future trends, such as the ageing of the population, the continued spread of HIV/AIDS in many regions, and the continuation of the epidemiological transition in developing countries. The results depend strongly on the assumption that future mortality trends in poor countries will have a relationship to economic and social development similar to those that have occurred in the higher-income countries.
Although patient attrition is recognized as a threat to the long-term success of antiretroviral therapy programs worldwide, there is no universal definition for classifying patients as lost to follow-up (LTFU). We analyzed data from health facilities across Africa, Asia, and Latin America to empirically determine a standard LTFU definition.
At a set "status classification" date, patients were categorized as either "active" or "LTFU" according to different intervals from time of last clinic encounter. For each threshold, we looked forward 365 d to assess the performance and accuracy of this initial classification. The best-performing definition for LTFU had the lowest proportion of patients misclassified as active or LTFU. Observational data from 111 health facilities-representing 180,718 patients from 19 countries-were included in this study. In the primary analysis, for which data from all facilities were pooled, an interval of 180 d (95% confidence interval [CI]: 173-181 d) since last patient encounter resulted in the fewest misclassifications (7.7%, 95% CI: 7.6%-7.8%). A secondary analysis that gave equal weight to cohorts and to regions generated a similar result (175 d); however, an alternate approach that used inverse weighting for cohorts based on variance and equal weighting for regions produced a slightly lower summary measure (150 d). When examined at the facility level, the best-performing definition varied from 58 to 383 d (mean=150 d), but when a standard definition of 180 d was applied to each facility, only slight increases in misclassification (mean=1.2%, 95% CI: 1.0%-1.5%) were observed. Using this definition, the proportion of patients classified as LTFU by facility ranged from 3.1% to 45.1% (mean=19.9%, 95% CI: 19.1%-21.7%).
Based on this evaluation, we recommend the adoption of ≥180 d since the last clinic visit as a standard LTFU definition. Such standardization is an important step to understanding the reasons that underlie patient attrition and establishing more reliable and comparable program evaluation worldwide. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Randomized controlled trials have shown that voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) reduces HIV infection by 50% to 60% in sub-Saharan African populations; however, little is known about the population-level effect of adult male circumcision (MC) as an HIV prevention method. We assessed the effectiveness of VMMC roll-out on the levels of HIV in the South African township of Orange Farm where the first randomized controlled trial (RCT) to test the effect of VMMC on HIV acquisition was conducted in 2002-2005.
Methods and findings:
The Bophelo Pele project is a community-based campaign against HIV, which includes the roll-out of free VMMC. A baseline cross-sectional biomedical survey was conducted in 2007-2008 among a random sample of 1,998 men aged 15 to 49 (survey response rate 80.7%). In 2010-2011, we conducted a follow-up random survey among 3,338 men aged 15 to 49 (survey response rate 79.6%) to evaluate the project. Participants were interviewed, blood samples were collected and tested for HIV and recent HIV infection (using the BED HIV incidence assay), and MC status was assessed through a clinical examination. Data were analyzed using multivariate and propensity statistical methods. Owing to the VMMCs performed in the context of the RCT and the Bophelo Pele project, the prevalence rate of adult MC increased from 0.12 (95% CI 0.10-0.14) to 0.53 (95% CI 0.51-0.55). Without these VMMCs, the HIV prevalence rate in 2010-2011 would have been 19% (95% CI 12%-26%) higher (0.147 instead of 0.123). When comparing circumcised and uncircumcised men, no association of MC status with sexual behavior was detected. Among circumcised and uncircumcised men, the proportion consistently using condoms with non-spousal partners in the past 12 months was 44.0% (95% CI 41.7%-46.5%) versus 45.4% (95% CI 42.2%-48.6%) with weighted prevalence rate ratio (wPRR) = 0.94 (95% CI 0.85-1.03). The proportion having two or more non-spousal partners was 50.4% (95% CI 47.9%-52.9%) versus 44.2% (95% CI 41.3%-46.9%) with wPRR = 1.03 (95% CI 0.95-1.10). We found a reduction of BED-estimated HIV incidence rate ranging from 57% (95% CI 29%-76%) to 61% (95% CI 14%-83%) among circumcised men in comparison with uncircumcised men.
Findings suggest that the roll-out of VMMC in Orange Farm is associated with a significant reduction of HIV levels in the community. The main limitation of the study is that it was not randomized and cannot prove a causal association. The roll-out of VMMC among adults in sub-Saharan Africa should be an international priority and needs to be accelerated to effectively combat the spread of HIV. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
World Health Organization (WHO)/Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) has recommended adult male circumcision (AMC) for the prevention of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men from communities where HIV is hyperendemic and AMC prevalence is low. The objective of this study was to investigate the feasibility of the roll-out of medicalized AMC according to UNAIDS/WHO operational guidelines in a targeted African setting.
The ANRS 12126 "Bophelo Pele" project was implemented in 2008 in the township of Orange Farm (South Africa). It became functional in 5 mo once local and ethical authorizations were obtained. Project activities involved community mobilization and outreach, as well as communication approaches aimed at both men and women incorporating broader HIV prevention strategies and promoting sexual health. Free medicalized AMC was offered to male residents aged 15 y and over at the project's main center, which had been designed for low-income settings. Through the establishment of an innovative surgical organization, up to 150 AMCs under local anesthesia, with sterilized circumcision disposable kits and electrocautery, could be performed per day by three task-sharing teams of one medical circumciser and five nurses. Community support for the project was high. As of November 2009, 14,011 men had been circumcised, averaging 740 per month in the past 12 mo, and 27.5% of project participants agreed to be tested for HIV. The rate of adverse events, none of which resulted in permanent damage or death, was 1.8%. Most of the men surveyed (92%) rated the services provided positively. An estimated 39.1% of adult uncircumcised male residents have undergone surgery and uptake is steadily increasing.
This study demonstrates that a quality AMC roll-out adapted to African low-income settings is feasible and can be implemented quickly and safely according to international guidelines. The project can be a model for the scale-up of comprehensive AMC services, which could be tailored for other rural and urban communities of high HIV prevalence and low AMC rates in Eastern and Southern Africa. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Observational studies suggest that male circumcision may provide protection against HIV-1 infection. A randomized, controlled intervention trial was conducted in a general population of South Africa to test this hypothesis.
A total of 3,274 uncircumcised men, aged 18-24 y, were randomized to a control or an intervention group with follow-up visits at months 3, 12, and 21. Male circumcision was offered to the intervention group immediately after randomization and to the control group at the end of the follow-up. The grouped censored data were analyzed in intention-to-treat, univariate and multivariate, analyses, using piecewise exponential, proportional hazards models. Rate ratios (RR) of HIV incidence were determined with 95% CI. Protection against HIV infection was calculated as 1 - RR. The trial was stopped at the interim analysis, and the mean (interquartile range) follow-up was 18.1 mo (13.0-21.0) when the data were analyzed. There were 20 HIV infections (incidence rate = 0.85 per 100 person-years) in the intervention group and 49 (2.1 per 100 person-years) in the control group, corresponding to an RR of 0.40 (95% CI: 0.24%-0.68%; p < 0.001). This RR corresponds to a protection of 60% (95% CI: 32%-76%). When controlling for behavioural factors, including sexual behaviour that increased slightly in the intervention group, condom use, and health-seeking behaviour, the protection was of 61% (95% CI: 34%-77%).
Male circumcision provides a degree of protection against acquiring HIV infection, equivalent to what a vaccine of high efficacy would have achieved. Male circumcision may provide an important way of reducing the spread of HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa. (Preliminary and partial results were presented at the International AIDS Society 2005 Conference, on 26 July 2005, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.).
Better information on lung cancer occurrence in lifelong nonsmokers is needed to understand gender and racial disparities and to examine how factors other than active smoking influence risk in different time periods and geographic regions.
We pooled information on lung cancer incidence and/or death rates among self-reported never-smokers from 13 large cohort studies, representing over 630,000 and 1.8 million persons for incidence and mortality, respectively. We also abstracted population-based data for women from 22 cancer registries and ten countries in time periods and geographic regions where few women smoked. Our main findings were: (1) Men had higher death rates from lung cancer than women in all age and racial groups studied; (2) male and female incidence rates were similar when standardized across all ages 40+ y, albeit with some variation by age; (3) African Americans and Asians living in Korea and Japan (but not in the US) had higher death rates from lung cancer than individuals of European descent; (4) no temporal trends were seen when comparing incidence and death rates among US women age 40-69 y during the 1930s to contemporary populations where few women smoke, or in temporal comparisons of never-smokers in two large American Cancer Society cohorts from 1959 to 2004; and (5) lung cancer incidence rates were higher and more variable among women in East Asia than in other geographic areas with low female smoking.
These comprehensive analyses support claims that the death rate from lung cancer among never-smokers is higher in men than in women, and in African Americans and Asians residing in Asia than in individuals of European descent, but contradict assertions that risk is increasing or that women have a higher incidence rate than men. Further research is needed on the high and variable lung cancer rates among women in Pacific Rim countries.
Several studies have suggested that diabetes mellitus (DM) increases the risk of active tuberculosis (TB). The rising prevalence of DM in TB-endemic areas may adversely affect TB control. We conducted a systematic review and a meta-analysis of observational studies assessing the association of DM and TB in order to summarize the existing evidence and to assess methodological quality of the studies.
We searched the PubMed and EMBASE databases to identify observational studies that had reported an age-adjusted quantitative estimate of the association between DM and active TB disease. The search yielded 13 observational studies (n = 1,786,212 participants) with 17,698 TB cases. Random effects meta-analysis of cohort studies showed that DM was associated with an increased risk of TB (relative risk = 3.11, 95% CI 2.27-4.26). Case-control studies were heterogeneous and odds ratios ranged from 1.16 to 7.83. Subgroup analyses showed that effect estimates were higher in non-North American studies.
DM was associated with an increased risk of TB regardless of study design and population. People with DM may be important targets for interventions such as active case finding and treatment of latent TB and efforts to diagnose, detect, and treat DM may have a beneficial impact on TB control.
Glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) are known to abolish or reduce the activities of intracellular enzymes that help detoxify environmental carcinogens, such as those found in tobacco smoke. It has been suggested that polymorphisms in the GST genes are risk factors for lung cancer, but a large number of studies have reported apparently conflicting results.
Literature-based meta-analysis was supplemented by tabular data from investigators of all relevant studies of five GST polymorphisms (GSTM1 null, GSTT1 null, I105V, and A114V polymorphisms in the GSTP1 genes, and GSTM3 intron 6 polymorphism) available before August, 2005, with investigation of potential sources of heterogeneity. Included in the present meta-analysis were 130 studies, involving a total of 23,452 lung cancer cases and 30,397 controls. In a combined analysis, the relative risks for lung cancer of the GSTM1 null and GSTT1 null polymorphisms were 1.18 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.14-1.23) and 1.09 (95% CI: 1.02-1.16), respectively, but in the larger studies they were only 1.04 (95% CI: 0.95-1.14) and 0.99 (95% CI: 0.86-1.11), respectively. In addition to size of study, ethnic background was a significant source of heterogeneity among studies of the GSTM1 null genotype, with possibly weaker associations in studies of individuals of European continental ancestry. Combined analyses of studies of the 105V, 114V, and GSTM3*B variants showed no significant overall associations with lung cancer, yielding per-allele relative risks of 1.04 (95% CI: 0.99-1.09), 1.15 (95% CI: 0.95-1.39), and 1.05 (95% CI: 0.89-1.23), respectively.
The risk of lung cancer is not strongly associated with the I105V and A114V polymorphisms in the GSTP1 gene or with GSTM3 intron 6 polymorphism. Given the non-significant associations in the larger studies, the relevance of the weakly positive overall associations with the GSTM1 null and the GSTT1 null polymorphisms is uncertain. As lung cancer has important environmental causes, understanding any genetic contribution to it in general populations will require the conduct of particularly large and comprehensive studies.
The extent to which baseline couple characteristics affect the probability of live birth and adverse perinatal outcomes after assisted conception is unknown.
Methods and findings:
We utilised the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority database to examine the predictors of live birth in all in vitro fertilisation (IVF) cycles undertaken in the UK between 2003 and 2007 (n = 144,018). We examined the potential clinical utility of a validated model that pre-dated the introduction of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) as compared to a novel model. For those treatment cycles that resulted in a live singleton birth (n = 24,226), we determined the associates of potential risk factors with preterm birth, low birth weight, and macrosomia. The overall rate of at least one live birth was 23.4 per 100 cycles (95% confidence interval [CI] 23.2-23.7). In multivariable models the odds of at least one live birth decreased with increasing maternal age, increasing duration of infertility, a greater number of previously unsuccessful IVF treatments, use of own oocytes, necessity for a second or third treatment cycle, or if it was not unexplained infertility. The association of own versus donor oocyte with reduced odds of live birth strengthened with increasing age of the mother. A previous IVF live birth increased the odds of future success (OR 1.58, 95% CI 1.46-1.71) more than that of a previous spontaneous live birth (OR 1.19, 95% CI 0.99-1.24); p-value for difference in estimate <0.001. Use of ICSI increased the odds of live birth, and male causes of infertility were associated with reduced odds of live birth only in couples who had not received ICSI. Prediction of live birth was feasible with moderate discrimination and excellent calibration; calibration was markedly improved in the novel compared to the established model. Preterm birth and low birth weight were increased if oocyte donation was required and ICSI was not used. Risk of macrosomia increased with advancing maternal age and a history of previous live births. Infertility due to cervical problems was associated with increased odds of all three outcomes-preterm birth, low birth weight, and macrosomia.
Pending external validation, our results show that couple- and treatment-specific factors can be used to provide infertile couples with an accurate assessment of whether they have low or high risk of a successful outcome following IVF.
It has been suggested throughout the past fifty years that serum uric acid concentrations can help predict the future risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), but the epidemiological evidence is uncertain.
We report a "nested" case-control comparison within a prospective study in Reykjavik, Iceland, using baseline values of serum uric acid in 2,456 incident CHD cases and in 3,962 age- and sex-matched controls, plus paired serum uric acid measurements taken at baseline and, on average, 12 y later in 379 participants. In addition, we conducted a meta-analysis of 15 other prospective studies in eight countries conducted in essentially general populations. Compared with individuals in the bottom third of baseline measurements of serum uric acid in the Reykjavik study, those in the top third had an age- and sex-adjusted odds ratio for CHD of 1.39 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.23-1.58) which fell to 1.12 (CI, 0.97-1.30) after adjustment for smoking and other established risk factors. Overall, in a combined analysis of 9,458 cases and 155,084 controls in all 16 relevant prospective studies, the odds ratio was 1.13 (CI, 1.07-1.20), but it was only 1.02 (CI, 0.91-1.14) in the eight studies with more complete adjustment for possible confounders.
Measurement of serum uric acid levels is unlikely to enhance usefully the prediction of CHD, and this factor is unlikely to be a major determinant of the disease in general populations.
Candidate human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines have demonstrated almost 90%-100% efficacy in preventing persistent, type-specific HPV infection over 18 mo in clinical trials. If these vaccines go on to demonstrate prevention of precancerous lesions in phase III clinical trials, they will be licensed for public use in the near future. How these vaccines will be used in countries with national cervical cancer screening programmes is an important question.
We developed a transmission model of HPV 16 infection and progression to cervical cancer and calibrated it to Finnish HPV 16 seroprevalence over time. The model was used to estimate the transmission probability of the virus, to look at the effect of changes in patterns of sexual behaviour and smoking on age-specific trends in cancer incidence, and to explore the impact of HPV 16 vaccination. We estimated a high per-partnership transmission probability of HPV 16, of 0.6. The modelling analyses showed that changes in sexual behaviour and smoking accounted, in part, for the increase seen in cervical cancer incidence in 35- to 39-y-old women from 1990 to 1999. At both low (10% in opportunistic immunisation) and high (90% in a national immunisation programme) coverage of the adolescent population, vaccinating women and men had little benefit over vaccinating women alone. We estimate that vaccinating 90% of young women before sexual debut has the potential to decrease HPV type-specific (e.g., type 16) cervical cancer incidence by 91%. If older women are more likely to have persistent infections and progress to cancer, then vaccination with a duration of protection of less than 15 y could result in an older susceptible cohort and no decrease in cancer incidence. While vaccination has the potential to significantly reduce type-specific cancer incidence, its combination with screening further improves cancer prevention.
HPV vaccination has the potential to significantly decrease HPV type-specific cervical cancer incidence. High vaccine coverage of women alone, sustained over many decades, with a long duration of vaccine-conferred protection, would have the greatest impact on type-specific cancer incidence. This level of coverage could be achieved through national coordinated programmes, with surveillance to detect cancers caused by nonvaccine oncogenic HPV types.
Early identification of ambulatory persons at high short-term risk of death could benefit targeted prevention. To identify biomarkers for all-cause mortality and enhance risk prediction, we conducted high-throughput profiling of blood specimens in two large population-based cohorts.
106 candidate biomarkers were quantified by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy of non-fasting plasma samples from a random subset of the Estonian Biobank (n = 9,842; age range 18-103 y; 508 deaths during a median of 5.4 y of follow-up). Biomarkers for all-cause mortality were examined using stepwise proportional hazards models. Significant biomarkers were validated and incremental predictive utility assessed in a population-based cohort from Finland (n = 7,503; 176 deaths during 5 y of follow-up). Four circulating biomarkers predicted the risk of all-cause mortality among participants from the Estonian Biobank after adjusting for conventional risk factors: alpha-1-acid glycoprotein (hazard ratio [HR] 1.67 per 1-standard deviation increment, 95% CI 1.53-1.82, p = 5×10(-31)), albumin (HR 0.70, 95% CI 0.65-0.76, p = 2×10(-18)), very-low-density lipoprotein particle size (HR 0.69, 95% CI 0.62-0.77, p = 3×10(-12)), and citrate (HR 1.33, 95% CI 1.21-1.45, p = 5×10(-10)). All four biomarkers were predictive of cardiovascular mortality, as well as death from cancer and other nonvascular diseases. One in five participants in the Estonian Biobank cohort with a biomarker summary score within the highest percentile died during the first year of follow-up, indicating prominent systemic reflections of frailty. The biomarker associations all replicated in the Finnish validation cohort. Including the four biomarkers in a risk prediction score improved risk assessment for 5-y mortality (increase in C-statistics 0.031, p = 0.01; continuous reclassification improvement 26.3%, p = 0.001).
Biomarker associations with cardiovascular, nonvascular, and cancer mortality suggest novel systemic connectivities across seemingly disparate morbidities. The biomarker profiling improved prediction of the short-term risk of death from all causes above established risk factors. Further investigations are needed to clarify the biological mechanisms and the utility of these biomarkers for guiding screening and prevention. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Interleukin (IL)-32 is a newly described proinflammatory cytokine that seems likely to play a role in inflammation and host defense. Little is known about the regulation of IL-32 production by primary cells of the immune system.
In the present study, freshly obtained human peripheral blood mononuclear cells were stimulated with different Toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists, and gene expression and synthesis of IL-32 was determined. We demonstrate that the TLR4 agonist lipopolysaccharide induces moderate (4-fold) production of IL-32, whereas agonists of TLR2, TLR3, TLR5, or TLR9, each of which strongly induced tumor necrosis factor alpha and IL-6, did not stimulate IL-32 production. However, the greatest amount of IL-32 was induced by the mycobacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis and M. bovis BCG (20-fold over unstimulated cells). IL-32-induced synthesis by either lipopolysaccharide or mycobacteria remains entirely cell-associated in monocytes; moreover, steady-state mRNA levels are present in unstimulated monocytes without translation into IL-32 protein, similar to other cytokines lacking a signal peptide. IL-32 production induced by M. tuberculosis is dependent on endogenous interferon-gamma (IFNgamma); endogenous IFNgamma is, in turn, dependent on M. tuberculosis-induced IL-18 via caspase-1.
In conclusion, IL-32 is a cell-associated proinflammatory cytokine, which is specifically stimulated by mycobacteria through a caspase-1- and IL-18-dependent production of IFNgamma.
Weight loss in the obese improves risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. However, several studies have shown inconsistent long-term effects of weight loss on mortality. We investigated the influence on mortality of intention to lose weight and subsequent weight changes among overweight individuals without known co-morbidities.
In 1975, a cohort of individuals reported height, weight, and current attempts (defined as "intention") to lose weight, and in 1981, they reported current weight. Mortality of the 2,957 participants with body mass index > or = 25 kg/m2 in 1975 and without pre-existing or current diseases was followed from 1982 through 1999, and 268 participants died. The association of intention to lose weight in 1975 and actual weight change until 1981 with mortality was analysed while controlling for behavioural and psychosocial risk factors and hypertension as possible confounders. Compared with the group not intending to lose and able to maintain stable weight, the hazard ratios (with 95% confidence intervals) in the group intending to lose weight were 0.84 (0.49-1.48) for those with stable weight, 1.86 (1.22-2.87) for those losing weight, and 0.93 (0.55-1.56) for those gaining weight. In the group not intending to lose weight, hazard ratios were 1.17 (0.82-1.66) for those who did lose weight, and 1.57 (1.08-2.30) for those gaining weight.
Deliberate weight loss in overweight individuals without known co-morbidities may be hazardous in the long term. The health effects of weight loss are complex, possibly composed of oppositely acting processes, and need more research.
The FTO gene harbors the strongest known susceptibility locus for obesity. While many individual studies have suggested that physical activity (PA) may attenuate the effect of FTO on obesity risk, other studies have not been able to confirm this interaction. To confirm or refute unambiguously whether PA attenuates the association of FTO with obesity risk, we meta-analyzed data from 45 studies of adults (n = 218,166) and nine studies of children and adolescents (n = 19,268).
All studies identified to have data on the FTO rs9939609 variant (or any proxy [r(2)>0.8]) and PA were invited to participate, regardless of ethnicity or age of the participants. PA was standardized by categorizing it into a dichotomous variable (physically inactive versus active) in each study. Overall, 25% of adults and 13% of children were categorized as inactive. Interaction analyses were performed within each study by including the FTO×PA interaction term in an additive model, adjusting for age and sex. Subsequently, random effects meta-analysis was used to pool the interaction terms. In adults, the minor (A-) allele of rs9939609 increased the odds of obesity by 1.23-fold/allele (95% CI 1.20-1.26), but PA attenuated this effect (p(interaction) = 0.001). More specifically, the minor allele of rs9939609 increased the odds of obesity less in the physically active group (odds ratio = 1.22/allele, 95% CI 1.19-1.25) than in the inactive group (odds ratio = 1.30/allele, 95% CI 1.24-1.36). No such interaction was found in children and adolescents.
The association of the FTO risk allele with the odds of obesity is attenuated by 27% in physically active adults, highlighting the importance of PA in particular in those genetically predisposed to obesity.
Historically, the main focus of studies of childhood mortality has been the infant and under-five mortality rates. Neonatal mortality (deaths <28 days of age) has received limited attention, although such deaths account for about 41% of all child deaths. To better assess progress, we developed annual estimates for neonatal mortality rates (NMRs) and neonatal deaths for 193 countries for the period 1990-2009 with forecasts into the future.
We compiled a database of mortality in neonates and children (<5 years) comprising 3,551 country-years of information. Reliable civil registration data from 1990 to 2009 were available for 38 countries. A statistical model was developed to estimate NMRs for the remaining 155 countries, 17 of which had no national data. Country consultation was undertaken to identify data inputs and review estimates. In 2009, an estimated 3.3 million babies died in the first month of life-compared with 4.6 million neonatal deaths in 1990-and more than half of all neonatal deaths occurred in five countries of the world (44% of global livebirths): India 27.8% (19.6% of global livebirths), Nigeria 7.2% (4.5%), Pakistan 6.9% (4.0%), China 6.4% (13.4%), and Democratic Republic of the Congo 4.6% (2.1%). Between 1990 and 2009, the global NMR declined by 28% from 33.2 deaths per 1,000 livebirths to 23.9. The proportion of child deaths that are in the neonatal period increased in all regions of the world, and globally is now 41%. While NMRs were halved in some regions of the world, Africa's NMR only dropped 17.6% (43.6 to 35.9).
Neonatal mortality has declined in all world regions. Progress has been slowest in the regions with high NMRs. Global health programs need to address neonatal deaths more effectively if Millennium Development Goal 4 (two-thirds reduction in child mortality) is to be achieved.
Encouraged by the early success of using dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) against malaria, the World Health Organization (WHO) embarked on the Global Malaria Eradication Program (GMEP) in 1955. Fourteen years later, the campaign was discontinued when it was recognised that eradication was not achievable with the available means in many areas, although the long-term goal remained unchanged. During the GMEP, malaria was permanently eliminated from many regions. In other areas, however, substantial gains were lost in resurgences, sometimes of epidemic proportions. During the 1970s and 1980s, because of economic and financial crises, international support for malaria control declined rapidly, but in the past decade, following increasing demands from endemic countries and promising results from scaling up of control activities, interest in malaria elimination and the long-term goal of eradication has received international political and financial support. In 2007, there was a renewed call for malaria eradication and a consultative process to define a research and development agenda for malaria eradication (malERA) was established. Lessons learned from the GMEP (1955-1969) highlight the fact that no single strategy can be applicable everywhere and that a long-term commitment with a flexible strategy that includes community involvement, integration with health systems, and the development of agile surveillance systems is needed.
Debates exist as to whether, as overall population health improves, the absolute and relative magnitude of income- and race/ethnicity-related health disparities necessarily increase-or decrease. We accordingly decided to test the hypothesis that health inequities widen-or shrink-in a context of declining mortality rates, by examining annual US mortality data over a 42 year period.
Using US county mortality data from 1960-2002 and county median family income data from the 1960-2000 decennial censuses, we analyzed the rates of premature mortality (deaths among persons under age 65) and infant death (deaths among persons under age 1) by quintiles of county median family income weighted by county population size. Between 1960 and 2002, as US premature mortality and infant death rates declined in all county income quintiles, socioeconomic and racial/ethnic inequities in premature mortality and infant death (both relative and absolute) shrank between 1966 and 1980, especially for US populations of color; thereafter, the relative health inequities widened and the absolute differences barely changed in magnitude. Had all persons experienced the same yearly age-specific premature mortality rates as the white population living in the highest income quintile, between 1960 and 2002, 14% of the white premature deaths and 30% of the premature deaths among populations of color would not have occurred.
The observed trends refute arguments that health inequities inevitably widen-or shrink-as population health improves. Instead, the magnitude of health inequalities can fall or rise; it is our job to understand why.
Producing estimates of infant (under age 1 y), child (age 1-4 y), and under-five (under age 5 y) mortality rates disaggregated by sex is complicated by problems with data quality and availability. Interpretation of sex differences requires nuanced analysis: girls have a biological advantage against many causes of death that may be eroded if they are disadvantaged in access to resources. Earlier studies found that girls in some regions were not experiencing the survival advantage expected at given levels of mortality. In this paper I generate new estimates of sex differences for the 1970s to the 2000s.
Methods and findings:
Simple fitting methods were applied to male-to-female ratios of infant and under-five mortality rates from vital registration, surveys, and censuses. The sex ratio estimates were used to disaggregate published series of both-sexes mortality rates that were based on a larger number of sources. In many developing countries, I found that sex ratios of mortality have changed in the same direction as historically occurred in developed countries, but typically had a lower degree of female advantage for a given level of mortality. Regional average sex ratios weighted by numbers of births were found to be highly influenced by China and India, the only countries where both infant mortality and overall under-five mortality were estimated to be higher for girls than for boys in the 2000s. For the less developed regions (comprising Africa, Asia excluding Japan, Latin America/Caribbean, and Oceania excluding Australia and New Zealand), on average, boys' under-five mortality in the 2000s was about 2% higher than girls'. A number of countries were found to still experience higher mortality for girls than boys in the 1-4-y age group, with concentrations in southern Asia, northern Africa/western Asia, and western Africa. In the more developed regions (comprising Europe, northern America, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand), I found that the sex ratio of infant mortality peaked in the 1970s or 1980s and declined thereafter.
The methods developed here pinpoint regions and countries where sex differences in mortality merit closer examination to ensure that both sexes are sharing equally in access to health resources. Further study of the distribution of causes of death in different settings will aid the interpretation of differences in survival for boys and girls. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
In 1966, the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) began planning a targeted research program to identify interventions for widespread application to eradicate dental caries (tooth decay) within a decade. In 1971, the NIDR launched the National Caries Program (NCP). The objective of this paper is to explore the sugar industry's interaction with the NIDR to alter the research priorities of the NIDR NCP.
We used internal cane and beet sugar industry documents from 1959 to 1971 to analyze industry actions related to setting research priorities for the NCP. The sugar industry could not deny the role of sucrose in dental caries given the scientific evidence. They therefore adopted a strategy to deflect attention to public health interventions that would reduce the harms of sugar consumption rather than restricting intake. Industry tactics included the following: funding research in collaboration with allied food industries on enzymes to break up dental plaque and a vaccine against tooth decay with questionable potential for widespread application, cultivation of relationships with the NIDR leadership, consulting of members on an NIDR expert panel, and submission of a report to the NIDR that became the foundation of the first request for proposals issued for the NCP. Seventy-eight percent of the sugar industry submission was incorporated into the NIDR's call for research applications. Research that could have been harmful to sugar industry interests was omitted from priorities identified at the launch of the NCP. Limitations are that this analysis relies on one source of sugar industry documents and that we could not interview key actors.
The NCP was a missed opportunity to develop a scientific understanding of how to restrict sugar consumption to prevent tooth decay. A key factor was the alignment of research agendas between the NIDR and the sugar industry. This historical example illustrates how industry protects itself from potentially damaging research, which can inform policy makers today. Industry opposition to current policy proposals-including a World Health Organization guideline on sugars proposed in 2014 and changes to the nutrition facts panel on packaged food in the US proposed in 2014 by the US Food and Drug Administration-should be carefully scrutinized to ensure that industry interests do not supersede public health goals.
For several decades, global public health efforts have focused on the development and application of disease control programs to improve child survival in developing populations. The need to reliably monitor the impact of such intervention programs in countries has led to significant advances in demographic methods and data sources, particularly with large-scale, cross-national survey programs such as the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS). Although no comparable effort has been undertaken for adult mortality, the availability of large datasets with information on adult survival from censuses and household surveys offers an important opportunity to dramatically improve our knowledge about levels and trends in adult mortality in countries without good vital registration. To date, attempts to measure adult mortality from questions in censuses and surveys have generally led to implausibly low levels of adult mortality owing to biases inherent in survey data such as survival and recall bias. Recent methodological developments and the increasing availability of large surveys with information on sibling survival suggest that it may well be timely to reassess the pessimism that has prevailed around the use of sibling histories to measure adult mortality.
Methods and findings:
We present the Corrected Sibling Survival (CSS) method, which addresses both the survival and recall biases that have plagued the use of survey data to estimate adult mortality. Using logistic regression, our method directly estimates the probability of dying in a given country, by age, sex, and time period from sibling history data. The logistic regression framework borrows strength across surveys and time periods for the estimation of the age patterns of mortality, and facilitates the implementation of solutions for the underrepresentation of high-mortality families and recall bias. We apply the method to generate estimates of and trends in adult mortality, using the summary measure (45)q(15)-the probability of a 15-y old dying before his or her 60th birthday-for 44 countries with DHS sibling survival data. Our findings suggest that levels of adult mortality prevailing in many developing countries are substantially higher than previously suggested by other analyses of sibling history data. Generally, our estimates show the risk of adult death between ages 15 and 60 y to be about 20%-35% for females and 25%-45% for males in sub-Saharan African populations largely unaffected by HIV. In countries of Southern Africa, where the HIV epidemic has been most pronounced, as many as eight out of ten men alive at age 15 y will be dead by age 60, as will six out of ten women. Adult mortality levels in populations of Asia and Latin America are generally lower than in Africa, particularly for women. The exceptions are Haiti and Cambodia, where mortality risks are comparable to many countries in Africa. In all other countries with data, the probability of dying between ages 15 and 60 y was typically around 10% for women and 20% for men, not much higher than the levels prevailing in several more developed countries.
Our results represent an expansion of direct knowledge of levels and trends in adult mortality in the developing world. The CSS method provides grounds for renewed optimism in collecting sibling survival data. We suggest that all nationally representative survey programs with adequate sample size ought to implement this critical module for tracking adult mortality in order to more reliably understand the levels and patterns of adult mortality, and how they are changing. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Competing theories attempt to explain changes in total energy (TE) intake; however, a rigorous, comprehensive examination of these explanations has not been undertaken. Our objective was to examine the relative contribution of energy density (ED), portion size (PS), and the number of eating/drinking occasions (EOs) to changes in daily TE.
Using cross-sectional nationally representative data from the Nationwide Food Consumption Survey (1977-78), Continuing Survey of Food Intakes of Individuals (1989-91), and National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (1994-98 and 2003-06) for adults (aged ≥19 y), we mathematically decompose TE (kcal/d) to understand the relative contributions of each component-PS (grams/EO), ED (kcal/g/EO) and EO(number)-to changes in TE over time. There was an increase in TE intake (+570 kcal/d) and the number of daily EOs (+1.1) between 1977-78 and 2003-06. The average PS increased between 1977-78 and 1994-98, then dropped slightly between 1994-98 and 2003-06, while the average ED remained steady between 1977-78 and 1989-91, then declined slightly between 1989-91 and 1994-98. Estimates from the decomposition statistical models suggest that between 1977-78 and 1989-91, annualized changes in PS contributed nearly 15 kcal/d/y to increases in TE, while changes in EO accounted for just 4 kcal/d/y. Between 1994-98 and 2003-06 changes in EO accounted for 39 kcal/d/y of increase and changes in PS accounted for 1 kcal/d/y of decline in the annualized change in TE.
While all three components have contributed to some extent to 30-y changes in TE, changes in EO and PS have accounted for most of the change. These findings suggest a new focus for efforts to reduce energy imbalances in US adults.
Rates of preterm birth are rising worldwide. Studies from the United States and Latin America suggest that much of this rise relates to increased rates of medically indicated preterm birth. In contrast, European and Australian data suggest that increases in spontaneous preterm labour also play a role. We aimed, in a population-based database of 5 million people, to determine the temporal trends and obstetric antecedents of singleton preterm birth and its associated neonatal mortality and morbidity for the period 1980-2004.
Methods and findings:
There were 1.49 million births in Scotland over the study period, of which 5.8% were preterm. We found a percentage increase in crude rates of both spontaneous preterm birth per 1,000 singleton births (10.7%, p<0.01) and medically indicated preterm births (41.2%, p<0.01), which persisted when adjusted for maternal age at delivery. The greater proportion of spontaneous preterm births meant that the absolute increase in rates of preterm birth in each category were similar. Of specific maternal complications, essential and pregnancy-induced hypertension, pre-eclampsia, and placenta praevia played a decreasing role in preterm birth over the study period, with gestational and pre-existing diabetes playing an increasing role. There was a decline in stillbirth, neonatal, and extended perinatal mortality associated with preterm birth at all gestation over the study period but an increase in the rate of prolonged hospital stay for the neonate. Neonatal mortality improved in all subgroups, regardless of obstetric antecedent of preterm birth or gestational age. In the 28 wk and greater gestational groups we found a reduction in stillbirths and extended perinatal mortality for medically induced but not spontaneous preterm births (in the absence of maternal complications) although at the expense of a longer stay in neonatal intensive care. This improvement in stillbirth and neonatal mortality supports the decision making behind the 34% increase in elective/induced preterm birth in these women. Although improvements in neonatal outcomes overall are welcome, preterm birth still accounts for over 66% of singleton stillbirths, 65% of singleton neonatal deaths, and 67% of infants whose stay in the neonatal unit is "prolonged," suggesting this condition remains a significant contributor to perinatal mortality and morbidity.
In our population, increases in spontaneous and medically induced preterm births have made equal contributions to the rising rate of preterm birth. Despite improvements in related perinatal mortality, preterm birth remains a major obstetric and neonatal problem, and its frequency is increasing. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that therapeutic termination of pregnancy (abortion) is associated with an increased risk of subsequent preterm birth. However, the literature is inconsistent, and methods of abortion have changed dramatically over the last 30 years. We hypothesized that the association between previous abortion and the risk of preterm first birth changed in Scotland between 1 January 1980 and 31 December 2008.
Methods and findings:
We studied linked Scottish national databases of births and perinatal deaths. We analysed the risk of preterm birth in relation to the number of previous abortions in 732,719 first births (≥24 wk), adjusting for maternal characteristics. The risk (adjusted odds ratio [95% CI]) of preterm birth was modelled using logistic regression, and associations were expressed for a one-unit increase in the number of previous abortions. Previous abortion was associated with an increased risk of preterm birth (1.12 [1.09-1.16]). When analysed by year of delivery, the association was strongest in 1980-1983 (1.32 [1.21-1.43]), progressively declined between 1984 and 1999, and was no longer apparent in 2000-2003 (0.98 [0.91-1.05]) or 2004-2008 (1.02 [0.95-1.09]). A statistical test for interaction between previous abortion and year was highly statistically significant (p<0.001). Analysis of data for abortions among nulliparous women in Scotland 1992-2008 demonstrated that the proportion that were surgical without use of cervical pre-treatment decreased from 31% to 0.4%, and that the proportion of medical abortions increased from 18% to 68%.
Previous abortion was a risk factor for spontaneous preterm birth in Scotland in the 1980s and 1990s, but the association progressively weakened and disappeared altogether by 2000. These changes were paralleled by increasing use of medical abortion and cervical pre-treatment prior to surgical abortion. Although it is plausible that the two trends were related, we could not test this directly as the data on the method of prior abortions were not linked to individuals in the cohort. However, we speculate that modernising abortion methods may be an effective long-term strategy to reduce global rates of preterm birth.
Diabetes mellitus (DM) confers an increased risk of mortality in young and middle-aged individuals and in women. It is uncertain, however, whether excess DM mortality continues beyond age 75 years, is related to type of hypoglycemic therapy, and whether women continue to be disproportionately affected by DM into older age.
From the Cardiovascular Health Study, a prospective study of 5,888 adults, we examined 5,372 participants aged 65 y or above without DM (91.2%), 322 with DM treated with oral hypoglycemic agents (OHGAs) (5.5%), and 194 with DM treated with insulin (3.3%). Participants were followed (1989-2001) for total, cardiovascular disease (CVD), coronary heart disease (CHD), and non-CVD/noncancer mortality. Compared with non-DM participants, those treated with OHGAs or insulin had adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for total mortality of 1.33 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.10 to 1.62) and 2.04 (95% CI, 1.62 to 2.57); CVD mortality, 1.99 (95% CI, 1.54 to 2.57) and 2.16 (95% CI, 1.54 to 3.03); CHD mortality, 2.47 (95% CI, 1.89 to 3.24) and 2.75 (95% CI, 1.95 to 3.87); and infectious and renal mortality, 1.35 (95% CI, 0.70 to 2.59) and 6.55 (95% CI, 4.18 to 10.26), respectively. The interaction of age (65-74 y versus > or =75 y) with DM was not significant. Women treated with OHGAs had a similar HR for total mortality to men, but a higher HR when treated with insulin.
DM mortality risk remains high among older adults in the current era of medical care. Mortality risk and type of mortality differ between OHGA and insulin treatment. Women treated with insulin therapy have an especially high mortality risk. Given the high absolute CVD mortality in older people, those with DM warrant aggressive CVD risk factor reduction.
Global, regional, and national estimates of prevalence of and tends in infertility are needed to target prevention and treatment efforts. By applying a consistent algorithm to demographic and reproductive surveys available from developed and developing countries, we estimate infertility prevalence and trends, 1990 to 2010, by country and region.
We accessed and analyzed household survey data from 277 demographic and reproductive health surveys using a consistent algorithm to calculate infertility. We used a demographic infertility measure with live birth as the outcome and a 5-y exposure period based on union status, contraceptive use, and desire for a child. We corrected for biases arising from the use of incomplete information on past union status and contraceptive use. We used a Bayesian hierarchical model to estimate prevalence of and trends in infertility in 190 countries and territories. In 2010, among women 20-44 y of age who were exposed to the risk of pregnancy, 1.9% (95% uncertainty interval 1.7%, 2.2%) were unable to attain a live birth (primary infertility). Out of women who had had at least one live birth and were exposed to the risk of pregnancy, 10.5% (9.5%, 11.7%) were unable to have another child (secondary infertility). Infertility prevalence was highest in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa/Middle East, and Central/Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Levels of infertility in 2010 were similar to those in 1990 in most world regions, apart from declines in primary and secondary infertility in Sub-Saharan Africa and primary infertility in South Asia (posterior probability [pp] ≥0.99). Although there were no statistically significant changes in the prevalence of infertility in most regions amongst women who were exposed to the risk of pregnancy, reduced child-seeking behavior resulted in a reduction of primary infertility among all women from 1.6% to 1.5% (pp = 0.90) and a reduction of secondary infertility among all women from 3.9% to 3.0% (pp>0.99) from 1990 to 2010. Due to population growth, however, the absolute number of couples affected by infertility increased from 42.0 million (39.6 million, 44.8 million) in 1990 to 48.5 million (45.0 million, 52.6 million) in 2010. Limitations of the study include gaps in survey data for some countries and the use of proxies to determine exposure to pregnancy.
We analyzed demographic and reproductive household survey data to reveal global patterns and trends in infertility. Independent from population growth and worldwide declines in the preferred number of children, we found little evidence of changes in infertility over two decades, apart from in the regions of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Further research is needed to identify the etiological causes of these patterns and trends. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Monitoring development indicators has become a central interest of international agencies and countries for tracking progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. In this review, which also provides an introduction to a collection of articles, we describe the methodology used by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation to track country-specific changes in the key indicator for Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4), the decline of the under-five mortality rate (the probability of dying between birth and age five, also denoted in the literature as U5MR and (5)q(0)). We review how relevant data from civil registration, sample registration, population censuses, and household surveys are compiled and assessed for United Nations member states, and how time series regression models are fitted to all points of acceptable quality to establish the trends in U5MR from which infant and neonatal mortality rates are generally derived. The application of this methodology indicates that, between 1990 and 2010, the global U5MR fell from 88 to 57 deaths per 1,000 live births, and the annual number of under-five deaths fell from 12.0 to 7.6 million. Although the annual rate of reduction in the U5MR accelerated from 1.9% for the period 1990-2000 to 2.5% for the period 2000-2010, it remains well below the 4.4% annual rate of reduction required to achieve the MDG 4 goal of a two-thirds reduction in U5MR from its 1990 value by 2015. Thus, despite progress in reducing child mortality worldwide, and an encouraging increase in the pace of decline over the last two decades, MDG 4 will not be met without greatly increasing efforts to reduce child deaths.
Suicides by carbon monoxide poisoning resulting from burning barbecue charcoal reached epidemic levels in Hong Kong and Taiwan within 5 y of the first reported cases in the early 2000s. The objectives of this analysis were to investigate (i) time trends and regional patterns of charcoal-burning suicide throughout East/Southeast Asia during the time period 1995-2011 and (ii) whether any rises in use of this method were associated with increases in overall suicide rates. Sex- and age-specific trends over time were also examined to identify the demographic groups showing the greatest increases in charcoal-burning suicide rates across different countries.
Methods and findings:
We used data on suicides by gases other than domestic gas for Hong Kong, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore in the years 1995/1996-2011. Similar data for Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand were also extracted but were incomplete. Graphical and joinpoint regression analyses were used to examine time trends in suicide, and negative binomial regression analysis to study sex- and age-specific patterns. In 1995/1996, charcoal-burning suicides accounted for <1% of all suicides in all study countries, except in Japan (5%), but they increased to account for 13%, 24%, 10%, 7%, and 5% of all suicides in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore, respectively, in 2011. Rises were first seen in Hong Kong after 1998 (95% CI 1997-1999), followed by Singapore in 1999 (95% CI 1998-2001), Taiwan in 2000 (95% CI 1999-2001), Japan in 2002 (95% CI 1999-2003), and the Republic of Korea in 2007 (95% CI 2006-2008). No marked increases were seen in Malaysia, the Philippines, or Thailand. There was some evidence that charcoal-burning suicides were associated with an increase in overall suicide rates in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan (for females), but not in Japan (for males), the Republic of Korea, and Singapore. Rates of change in charcoal-burning suicide rate did not differ by sex/age group in Taiwan and Hong Kong but appeared to be greatest in people aged 15-24 y in Japan and people aged 25-64 y in the Republic of Korea. The lack of specific codes for charcoal-burning suicide in the International Classification of Diseases and variations in coding practice in different countries are potential limitations of this study.
Charcoal-burning suicides increased markedly in some East/Southeast Asian countries (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore) in the first decade of the 21st century, but such rises were not experienced by all countries in the region. In countries with a rise in charcoal-burning suicide rates, the timing, scale, and sex/age pattern of increases varied by country. Factors underlying these variations require further investigation, but may include differences in culture or in media portrayals of the method. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
The Shoklo Malaria Research Unit has been working on the Thai-Myanmar border for 25 y providing early diagnosis and treatment (EDT) of malaria. Transmission of Plasmodium falciparum has declined, but resistance to artesunate has emerged. We expanded malaria activities through EDT and evaluated the impact over a 12-y period.
Methods and findings:
Between 1 October 1999 and 30 September 2011, the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit increased the number of cross-border (Myanmar side) health facilities from two to 11 and recorded the number of malaria consultations. Changes in malaria incidence were estimated from a cohort of pregnant women, and prevalence from cross-sectional surveys. In vivo and in vitro antimalarial drug efficacy were monitored. Over this period, the number of malaria cases detected increased initially, but then declined rapidly. In children under 5 y, the percentage of consultations due to malaria declined from 78% (95% CI 76-80) (1,048/1,344 consultations) to 7% (95% CI 6.2-7.1) (767/11,542 consultations), p<0.001. The ratio of P. falciparum/P. vivax declined from 1.4 (95% CI 1.3-1.4) to 0.7 (95% CI 0.7-0.8). The case fatality rate was low (39/75,126; 0.05% [95% CI 0.04-0.07]). The incidence of malaria declined from 1.1 to 0.1 episodes per pregnant women-year. The cumulative proportion of P. falciparum decreased significantly from 24.3% (95% CI 21.0-28.0) (143/588 pregnant women) to 3.4% (95% CI 2.8-4.3) (76/2,207 pregnant women), p<0.001. The in vivo efficacy of mefloquine-artesunate declined steadily, with a sharp drop in 2011 (day-42 PCR-adjusted cure rate 42% [95% CI 20-62]). The proportion of patients still slide positive for malaria at day 3 rose from 0% in 2000 to reach 28% (95% CI 13-45) (8/29 patients) in 2011.
Despite the emergence of resistance to artesunate in P. falciparum, the strategy of EDT with artemisinin-based combination treatments has been associated with a reduction in malaria in the migrant population living on the Thai-Myanmar border. Although limited by its observational nature, this study provides useful data on malaria burden in a strategically crucial geographical area. Alternative fixed combination treatments are needed urgently to replace the failing first-line regimen of mefloquine and artesunate. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Death is the most extreme consequence of intimate partner violence. Female homicide studies with data on the perpetrator-victim relationship can provide insights. We compare the results of two South African national studies of female homicide with similar sampling done 10 y apart.
We conducted a retrospective national survey using a weighted cluster design of a proportionate random sample of 38 mortuaries to identify homicides committed in 2009. We abstracted victim data from mortuary and autopsy reports, and perpetrator data from police interviews. We compared homicides of women 14 y and older in 2009 with previously published data collected with the same methodology for homicides committed in 1999. The study found that the rate of female homicide per 100,000 female population in 2009 was 12.9 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 9.3, 16.5), compared to 24.7 (95% CI: 17.7, 31.6) in 1999. The incidence rate ratio of 0.54 (95% CI: 0.20, 0.84) reflects a significantly lower rate in 2009. The rate of intimate partner femicide was 5.6/100,000 in 2009 versus 8.8/100,000 in 1999, with an incidence rate ratio of 0.63 (95% CI: 0.24, 1.02), indicating no difference between rates. Logistic regression analysis of homicide characteristics showed that the odds ratio of suspected rape among non-intimate femicides in 2009 compared to 1999 was 2.61 (95% CI: 1.23, 4.08) and among intimate partner femicides it was 0.84 (95% CI: 0.50, 1.42). The OR of homicide by gunshot was 0.54 (95% CI: 0.30, 0.99) in 2009 versus 1999. There was a significant drop in convictions of perpetrators of non-intimate femicide in 2009 versus 1999 (OR = 0.32 [95% CI: 0.19, 0.53]). Limitations of the study include the relatively small sample size and having only two time points.
Female homicide in South Africa was lower in 2009 than 1999, but intimate partner femicide and suspected rape homicide rates were not statistically different. The cause of the difference is unknown. The findings suggest that South Africa needs greater efforts nationally to implement evidence-based violence prevention. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is estimated to affect 130-180 million people worldwide. Although its origin is unknown, patterns of viral diversity suggest that HCV genotype 1 probably originated from West Africa. Previous attempts to estimate the spatiotemporal parameters of the virus, both globally and regionally, have suggested that epidemic HCV transmission began in 1900 and grew steadily until the late 1980s. However, epidemiological data suggest that the expansion of HCV may have occurred after the Second World War. The aim of our study was to elucidate the timescale and route of the global spread of HCV.
Methods and findings:
We show that the rarely sequenced HCV region (E2P7NS2) is more informative for molecular epidemiology studies than the more commonly used NS5B region. We applied phylodynamic methods to a substantial set of new E2P7NS2 and NS5B sequences, together with all available global HCV sequences with information in both of these genomic regions, in order to estimate the timescale and nature of the global expansion of the most prevalent HCV subtypes, 1a and 1b. We showed that transmission of subtypes 1a and 1b "exploded" between 1940 and 1980, with the spread of 1b preceding that of 1a by at least 16 y (95% confidence interval 15-17). Phylogeographic analysis of all available NS5B sequences suggests that HCV subtypes 1a and 1b disseminated from the developed world to the developing countries.
The evolutionary rate of HCV appears faster than previously suggested. The global spread of HCV coincided with the widespread use of transfused blood and blood products and with the expansion of intravenous drug use but slowed prior to the wide implementation of anti-HCV screening. Differences in the transmission routes associated with subtypes 1a and 1b provide an explanation of the relatively earlier expansion of 1b. Our data show that the most plausible route of the HCV dispersal was from developed countries to the developing world. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
We have previously shown that multiple genetic loci identified by genome-wide association studies (GWAS) increase the susceptibility to obesity in a cumulative manner. It is, however, not known whether and to what extent this genetic susceptibility may be attenuated by a physically active lifestyle. We aimed to assess the influence of a physically active lifestyle on the genetic predisposition to obesity in a large population-based study.
We genotyped 12 SNPs in obesity-susceptibility loci in a population-based sample of 20,430 individuals (aged 39-79 y) from the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC)-Norfolk cohort with an average follow-up period of 3.6 y. A genetic predisposition score was calculated for each individual by adding the body mass index (BMI)-increasing alleles across the 12 SNPs. Physical activity was assessed using a self-administered questionnaire. Linear and logistic regression models were used to examine main effects of the genetic predisposition score and its interaction with physical activity on BMI/obesity risk and BMI change over time, assuming an additive effect for each additional BMI-increasing allele carried. Each additional BMI-increasing allele was associated with 0.154 (standard error [SE] 0.012) kg/m(2) (p = 6.73 x 10(-37)) increase in BMI (equivalent to 445 g in body weight for a person 1.70 m tall). This association was significantly (p(interaction) = 0.005) more pronounced in inactive people (0.205 [SE 0.024] kg/m(2) [p = 3.62 x 10(-18); 592 g in weight]) than in active people (0.131 [SE 0.014] kg/m(2) [p = 7.97 x 10(-21); 379 g in weight]). Similarly, each additional BMI-increasing allele increased the risk of obesity 1.116-fold (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.093-1.139, p = 3.37 x 10(-26)) in the whole population, but significantly (p(interaction) = 0.015) more in inactive individuals (odds ratio [OR] = 1.158 [95% CI 1.118-1.199; p = 1.93 x 10(-16)]) than in active individuals (OR = 1.095 (95% CI 1.068-1.123; p = 1.15 x 10(-12)]). Consistent with the cross-sectional observations, physical activity modified the association between the genetic predisposition score and change in BMI during follow-up (p(interaction) = 0.028).
Our study shows that living a physically active lifestyle is associated with a 40% reduction in the genetic predisposition to common obesity, as estimated by the number of risk alleles carried for any of the 12 recently GWAS-identified loci. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality in England fell by approximately 6% every year between 2000 and 2007. However, rates fell differentially between social groups with inequalities actually widening. We sought to describe the extent to which this reduction in CHD mortality was attributable to changes in either levels of risk factors or treatment uptake, both across and within socioeconomic groups.
A widely used and replicated epidemiological model was used to synthesise estimates stratified by age, gender, and area deprivation quintiles for the English population aged 25 and older between 2000 and 2007. Mortality rates fell, with approximately 38,000 fewer CHD deaths in 2007. The model explained about 86% (95% uncertainty interval: 65%-107%) of this mortality fall. Decreases in major cardiovascular risk factors contributed approximately 34% (21%-47%) to the overall decline in CHD mortality: ranging from about 44% (31%-61%) in the most deprived to 29% (16%-42%) in the most affluent quintile. The biggest contribution came from a substantial fall in systolic blood pressure in the population not on hypertension medication (29%; 18%-40%); more so in deprived (37%) than in affluent (25%) areas. Other risk factor contributions were relatively modest across all social groups: total cholesterol (6%), smoking (3%), and physical activity (2%). Furthermore, these benefits were partly negated by mortality increases attributable to rises in body mass index and diabetes (-9%; -17% to -3%), particularly in more deprived quintiles. Treatments accounted for approximately 52% (40%-70%) of the mortality decline, equitably distributed across all social groups. Lipid reduction (14%), chronic angina treatment (13%), and secondary prevention (11%) made the largest medical contributions.
The model suggests that approximately half the recent CHD mortality fall in England was attributable to improved treatment uptake. This benefit occurred evenly across all social groups. However, opposing trends in major risk factors meant that their net contribution amounted to just over a third of the CHD deaths averted; these also varied substantially by socioeconomic group. Powerful and equitable evidence-based population-wide policy interventions exist; these should now be urgently implemented to effectively tackle persistent inequalities.
Recent reports of high HIV infection rates among men who have sex with men (MSM) from Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the former Soviet Union (FSU) suggest high levels of HIV transmission among MSM in low- and middle-income countries. To investigate the global epidemic of HIV among MSM and the relationship of MSM outbreaks to general populations, we conducted a comprehensive review of HIV studies among MSM in low- and middle-income countries and performed a meta-analysis of reported MSM and reproductive-age adult HIV prevalence data.
A comprehensive review of the literature was conducted using systematic methodology. Data regarding HIV prevalence and total sample size was sequestered from each of the studies that met inclusion criteria and aggregate values for each country were calculated. Pooled odds ratio (OR) estimates were stratified by factors including HIV prevalence of the country, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)-classified level of HIV epidemic, geographic region, and whether or not injection drug users (IDUs) played a significant role in given epidemic. Pooled ORs were stratified by prevalence level; very low-prevalence countries had an overall MSM OR of 58.4 (95% CI 56.3-60.6); low-prevalence countries, 14.4 (95% CI 13.8-14.9); and medium- to high-prevalence countries, 9.6 (95% CI 9.0-10.2). Significant differences in ORs for HIV infection among MSM in were seen when comparing low- and middle-income countries; low-income countries had an OR of 7.8 (95% CI 7.2-8.4), whereas middle-income countries had an OR of 23.4 (95% CI 22.8-24.0). Stratifying the pooled ORs by whether the country had a substantial component of IDU spread resulted in an OR of 12.8 (95% CI 12.3-13.4) in countries where IDU transmission was prevalent, and 24.4 (95% CI 23.7-25.2) where it was not. By region, the OR for MSM in the Americas was 33.3 (95% CI 32.3-34.2); 18.7 (95% CI 17.7-19.7) for Asia; 3.8 (95% CI 3.3-4.3) for Africa; and 1.3 (95% CI 1.1-1.6) for the low- and middle-income countries of Europe.
MSM have a markedly greater risk of being infected with HIV compared with general population samples from low- and middle-income countries in the Americas, Asia, and Africa. ORs for HIV infection in MSM are elevated across prevalence levels by country and decrease as general population prevalence increases, but remain 9-fold higher in medium-high prevalence settings. MSM from low- and middle-income countries are in urgent need of prevention and care, and appear to be both understudied and underserved.
Background to the debate
The human rights responsibilities of drug companies have been considered for years by nongovernmental organizations, but were most sharply defined in a report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, submitted to the United Nations General Assembly in August 2008. The “Human Rights Guidelines for Pharmaceutical Companies in relation to Access to Medicines” include responsibilities for transparency, management, monitoring and accountability, pricing, and ethical marketing, and against lobbying for more protection in intellectual property laws, applying for patents for trivial modifications of existing medicines, inappropriate drug promotion, and excessive pricing. Two years after the release of the Guidelines, the PLoS Medicine Debate asks whether drug companies are living up to their human rights responsibilities. Sofia Gruskin and Zyde Raad from the Harvard School of Public Health say more assessment is needed of such responsibilities; Geralyn Ritter, Vice President of Global Public Policy and Corporate Responsibility at Merck & Co. argues that multiple stakeholders could do more to help States deliver the right to health; and Paul Hunt and Rajat Khosla introduce Mr. Hunt′s work as the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to the highest attainable standard of health, regarding the human rights responsibilities of pharmaceutical companies and access to medicines.
Neonatal mortality accounts for 43% of global under-five deaths and is decreasing more slowly than maternal or child mortality. Donor funding has increased for maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH), but no analysis to date has disaggregated aid for newborns. We evaluated if and how aid flows for newborn care can be tracked, examined changes in the last decade, and considered methodological implications for tracking funding for specific population groups or diseases.
We critically reviewed and categorised previous analyses of aid to specific populations, diseases, or types of activities. We then developed and refined key terms related to newborn survival in seven languages and searched titles and descriptions of donor disbursement records in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Creditor Reporting System database, 2002-2010. We compared results with the Countdown to 2015 database of aid for MNCH (2003-2008) and the search strategy used by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Prior to 2005, key terms related to newborns were rare in disbursement records but their frequency increased markedly thereafter. Only two mentions were found of "stillbirth" and only nine references were found to "fetus" in any spelling variant or language. The total value of non-research disbursements mentioning any newborn search terms rose from US$38.4 million in 2002 to US$717.1 million in 2010 (constant 2010 US$). The value of non-research projects exclusively benefitting newborns fluctuated somewhat but remained low, at US$5.7 million in 2010. The United States and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) provided the largest value of non-research funding mentioning and exclusively benefitting newborns, respectively.
Donor attention to newborn survival has increased since 2002, but it appears unlikely that donor aid is commensurate with the 3.0 million newborn deaths and 2.7 million stillbirths each year. We recommend that those tracking funding for other specific population groups, diseases, or activities consider a key term search approach in the Creditor Reporting System along with a detailed review of their data, but that they develop their search terms and interpretations carefully, taking into account the limitations described. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Overuse of antibiotics is the main force driving the emergence and dissemination of bacterial resistance in the community. France consumes more antibiotics and has the highest rate of beta-lactam resistance in Streptococcus pneumoniae than any other European country. In 2001, the government initiated "Keep Antibiotics Working"; the program's main component was a campaign entitled "Les antibiotiques c'est pas automatique" ("Antibiotics are not automatic") launched in 2002. We report the evaluation of this campaign by analyzing the evolution of outpatient antibiotic use in France 2000-2007, according to therapeutic class and geographic and age-group patterns.
This evaluation is based on 2000-2007 data, including 453,407,458 individual reimbursement data records and incidence of flu-like syndromes (FLSs). Data were obtained from the computerized French National Health Insurance database and provided by the French Sentinel Network. As compared to the preintervention period (2000-2002), the total number of antibiotic prescriptions per 100 inhabitants, adjusted for FLS frequency during the winter season, changed by -26.5% (95% confidence interval [CI] -33.5% to -19.6%) over 5 years. The decline occurred in all 22 regions of France and affected all antibiotic therapeutic classes except quinolones. The greatest decrease, -35.8% (95% CI -48.3% to -23.2%), was observed among young children aged 6-15 years. A significant change of -45% in the relationship between the incidence of flu-like syndromes and antibiotic prescriptions was observed.
The French national campaign was associated with a marked reduction of unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions, particularly in children. This study provides a useful method for assessing public-health strategies designed to reduce antibiotic use.
Previous estimates of mortality in Iraq attributable to the 2003 invasion have been heterogeneous and controversial, and none were produced after 2006. The purpose of this research was to estimate direct and indirect deaths attributable to the war in Iraq between 2003 and 2011.
We conducted a survey of 2,000 randomly selected households throughout Iraq, using a two-stage cluster sampling method to ensure the sample of households was nationally representative. We asked every household head about births and deaths since 2001, and all household adults about mortality among their siblings. We used secondary data sources to correct for out-migration. From March 1, 2003, to June 30, 2011, the crude death rate in Iraq was 4.55 per 1,000 person-years (95% uncertainty interval 3.74-5.27), more than 0.5 times higher than the death rate during the 26-mo period preceding the war, resulting in approximately 405,000 (95% uncertainty interval 48,000-751,000) excess deaths attributable to the conflict. Among adults, the risk of death rose 0.7 times higher for women and 2.9 times higher for men between the pre-war period (January 1, 2001, to February 28, 2003) and the peak of the war (2005-2006). We estimate that more than 60% of excess deaths were directly attributable to violence, with the rest associated with the collapse of infrastructure and other indirect, but war-related, causes. We used secondary sources to estimate rates of death among emigrants. Those estimates suggest we missed at least 55,000 deaths that would have been reported by households had the households remained behind in Iraq, but which instead had migrated away. Only 24 households refused to participate in the study. An additional five households were not interviewed because of hostile or threatening behavior, for a 98.55% response rate. The reliance on outdated census data and the long recall period required of participants are limitations of our study.
Beyond expected rates, most mortality increases in Iraq can be attributed to direct violence, but about a third are attributable to indirect causes (such as from failures of health, sanitation, transportation, communication, and other systems). Approximately a half million deaths in Iraq could be attributable to the war. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.