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Publications (99)

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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: Prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) is an established risk factor for neurodevelopmental deficits in the offspring. Prenatal depression has been associated with neurodevelopmental deficits in the offspring, although investigations into unmedicated prenatal depression have been inconsistent. We hypothesized that unmedicated prenatal depressive symptoms would independently and jointly with PAE predict neurodevelopmental outcomes in infant offspring. Methods: We studied 344 participants from a randomized clinical trial of multivitamin supplements in pregnant women in Ukraine. Women were recruited based upon periconceptional alcohol use and followed up to 12 months postpartum. Prenatal depressive symptoms were assessed at approximately 32 weeks of gestation using the Beck Depression Inventory score. Neurodevelopment was assessed with the Bayley Scales of Infant Development II Mental Development Index (MDI) and Psychomotor Development Index (PDI) at 6 and 12 months postpartum. Generalized linear regression models were constructed to assess the independent and joint effects of prenatal depressive symptoms and PAE in models adjusted for sociodemographic and pregnancy characteristics. Results: PAE was independently associated with deficits in neurodevelopmental outcomes at 6 and 12 months, however, level of prenatal depressive symptoms was not. We found marginal evidence of synergism of depressive symptoms and PAE, with larger deficits in those with both exposures observed for the PDI-6 months (p = 0.05) and MDI-12 months (p = 0.09). Additionally, there was a suggestion of sexual dimorphism; females had stronger deficits from joint exposures than males (depressive symptom [MDI-6 months] female: -8.28, 95% CI -13.06, -3.49; male: 0.68, 95% CI -4.58, 5.94; p for interaction 0.04). While not statistically significant for the MDI or PDI at 12 months, the trend persisted. Conclusions: Infants exposed to PAE and prenatal depression may be at an increased risk of neurodevelopmental deficits. Healthcare providers should be aware of this possible synergism in their efforts to mitigate the neurodevelopmental effects of these co-occurring exposures.
    Full-text Article · Apr 2016 · Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research
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    Wladimir Wertelecki · Alfred Koerblein · Bogdana Ievtushok · [...] · Zoriana Sosyniuk
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: Investigations soon after the 1986 Chornobyl (Chernobyl in Russian) accident of exposed populations residing elsewhere in Europe led government and international agencies to conclude that exposures to cesium-137 (Cs-137) were not teratogenic. Our observations of elevated population rates of neural tube defects (NTDs) and microcephaly and microphthalmia (M/M) in the Rivne Province in Ukraine, which were among the highest in Europe, prompted this follow-up investigation inclusive of whole-body counts (WBCs) of Cs-137 among ambulatory patients and pregnant women residing in Polissia, the most polluted region in Rivne. Methods: Yearly (2000-2012) population rates of NTDs and M/M and WBC patterns of ambulatory patients (2001-2010) and pregnant women (2011-2013) in Polissia and non-Polissia regions of Rivne were analyzed. Results: The NTD and M/M population rates in Rivne remain elevated and are statistically significantly higher in Polissia than in non-Polissia. The WBCs among residents in Polissia are statistically significantly higher than among those from non-Polissia. Conclusion: NTD and M/M rates are highest in the Polissia region of Rivne and are among the highest in Europe. In Polissia, the WBCs of Cs-137 are above officially set permissible upper limits. The results are based on aggregate data of NTDs and M/Ms and average WBC values. Further investigations of causality of the high rates of NTDs and M/Ms are needed and urgent strengthening policies and implementations to reduce exposures to teratogens, in particular radioactive nuclides and alcohol, and consumption of folic acid supplements are indicated. Birth Defects Research (Part A), 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Full-text Article · Feb 2016 · Birth Defects Research Part A Clinical and Molecular Teratology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The potential of micronutrients to ameliorate the impact of prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) was explored in a clinical trial conducted in Ukraine. Cardiac orienting responses (ORs) during a habituation/dishabituation learning paradigm were obtained from 6 to 12 month-olds to assess neurophysiological encoding and memory. Women who differed in prenatal alcohol use were recruited during pregnancy and assigned to a group (No study-provided supplements, multivitamin/mineral supplement, or multivitamin/mineral supplement plus choline supplement). Heart rate was collected for 30 s prior to stimulus onset and 12 s post-stimulus onset. Difference values (∆HR) for the first 3 trials of each condition were aggregated for analysis. Gestational blood samples were collected to assess maternal nutritional status and changes as a function of the intervention. Choline supplementation resulted in a greater ∆HR on the visual habituation trials for all infants and for the infants with no PAE on the dishabituation trials. The latency of the response was reduced in both conditions for all infants whose mothers received choline supplementation. Change in gestational choline level was positively related to ∆HR during habituation trials and levels of one choline metabolite, dimethylglycine (DMG), predicted ∆HR during habituation trials and latency of responses. A trend was found between DMG and ∆HR on the dishabituation trials and latency of the response. Supplementation did not affect ORs to auditory stimuli. Choline supplementation when administered together with routinely recommended multivitamin/mineral prenatal supplements during pregnancy may provide a beneficial impact to basic learning mechanisms involved in encoding and memory of environmental events in alcohol-exposed pregnancies as well as non- or low alcohol-exposed pregnancies. Changes in maternal nutrient status suggested that one mechanism by which choline supplementation may positively impact brain development is through prevention of fetal alcohol-related depletion of DMG, a metabolic nutrient that can protect against overproduction of glycine, during critical periods of neurogenesis.
    Article · Sep 2015 · Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are more common in disadvantaged populations. Environmental factors, like suboptimal nutrition, may potentiate the developmental effects of prenatal alcohol exposure. To evaluate the impact of micronutrients, including choline, on reduction of effects of exposure, we examined timing and dose of alcohol and effects of nutritional supplementation at two OMNI-Net sites in Western Ukraine that included high and low risk individuals. Alcohol-using and nondrinking women were randomized to one of three multivitamin/mineral supplement groups: none, multivitamins/minerals (MVM), and multivitamin/minerals plus choline. Children (N = 367) were tested at 6 months with the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (2nd ED) yielding standard scores for Mental Development Index (MDI), Psychomotor Development Index (PDI) and Behavior. Generalized linear modeling was used: (1) for factorial analysis of effects of alcohol group, multivitamin/minerals, and choline supplementation; and (2) to examine the relationship between amount and timing of alcohol (ounces of absolute alcohol/day [ozAA/day] peri-conception and on average in the second trimester) and MVM supplementation on developmental outcomes while controlling sex, social class, and smoking. MDI was significantly impacted by peri-conceptual alcohol dose ([Formula: see text], p < .001) with more alcohol associated with lower scores and males more negatively affected than females ([Formula: see text], p < .002). Micronutrient supplementation had a protective effect; those receiving supplements performed better ([Formula: see text], p < .005). The PDI motor scores did not differ by group but were affected by peri-conceptual alcohol dose ([Formula: see text], p < .04). Multivitamin/mineral supplementation can reduce the negative impact of alcohol use during pregnancy on specific developmental outcomes.
    Full-text Article · Jul 2015 · Maternal and Child Health Journal
  • Conference Paper · Jun 2015
  • Conference Paper · Jun 2015
  • W. Wertelecki · L. Yevtushok · A. Korblein · [...] · Z. Sosyniuk
    Article · May 2015 · Birth Defects Research Part A Clinical and Molecular Teratology
  • Article · May 2015 · Birth Defects Research Part A Clinical and Molecular Teratology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Published prevalence rates of congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) vary. This study aims to describe the epidemiology of CDH using data from high-quality, population-based registers belonging to the European Surveillance of Congenital Anomalies (EUROCAT). Cases of CDH delivered between 1980 and 2009 notified to 31 EUROCAT registers formed the population-based case series. Prevalence over time was estimated using multilevel Poisson regression, and heterogeneity between registers was evaluated from the random component of the intercept. There were 3373 CDH cases reported among 12 155 491 registered births. Of 3131 singleton cases, 353 (10.4%) were associated with a chromosomal anomaly, genetic syndrome or microdeletion, 784 (28.2%) were associated with other major structural anomalies. The male to female ratio of CDH cases overall was 1:0.69. Total prevalence was 2.3 (95% CI 2.2 to 2.4) per 10 000 births and 1.6 (95% CI 1.6 to 1.7) for isolated CDH cases. There was a small but significant increase (relative risk (per year)=1.01, 95% credible interval 1.00-1.01; p=0.030) in the prevalence of total CDH over time but there was no significant increase for isolated cases (ie, CDH cases that did not occur with any other congenital anomaly). There was significant variation in total and isolated CDH prevalence between registers. The proportion of cases that survived to 1 week was 69.3% (1392 cases) for total CDH cases and 72.7% (1107) for isolated cases. This large population-based study found an increase in total CDH prevalence over time. CDH prevalence also varied significantly according to geographical location. No significant association was found with maternal age. Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://group.bmj.com/group/rights-licensing/permissions.
    Full-text Article · Nov 2014 · Archives of Disease in Childhood - Fetal and Neonatal Edition
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    Wladimir Wertelecki · Lyubov Yevtushok · Natalia Zymak-Zakutnia · [...] · Holly H Hobart
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fig. S1 County Isonomy Rates of Neonates (Aggregate Frequency of Five Most Common Family Names). Fig. S2 Whole Body Counts of incorporated ionizing radiation (Bq 137Cs) among 6026 pregnant women residing in Rivne Province (2008–2011). The (*) indicates the official upper norm for children under the age of 15 years (3700 Bq). (Decree #106 of Cabinet of Ministers of Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic of July 23, 1991. – See references). Fig. S3 Birth weight of liveborns of all gestational ages (2000–2009) in Polissia and non-Polissia regions of Rivne province of Ukraine. Fig. S4 Twinning Events among Relatives of Conjoined Twins (2000–2010). Table S1a Temporal Contrasts between Polissia (POL) and non-Polissia (nPOL)(1) of Population-Based Rates of Core Congenital Malformations. Table S1b Temporal Contrasts within Polissia and non-Polissia(1) of the Number of Observed Individuals with Core Congenital Malformations. Table S1c Unduplicated Individuals with Core Congenital Malformations after Exclusion of Those with Clinically Recognizable Malformation Syndromes, Genomic Mutations, Cytogenetic Anomalies and Recognizable Teratogenic Effects(1). Table S1d Overview of Unduplicated Individuals in Polissia and non-Polissia with Non-Syndromic Congenital Malformations(1) or Sentinel Anomalies (2000–2009). Table S2 Total Number of Malformations and Rates per se (not Unique Individuals) and Male-Female (MF) Proportions and Ratios (M : F) in Polissia and non-Polissia(a). Table S3 All Individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Non-Population-Based Observations. Table S4 All Non-Singletons Including Those with Congenital Malformations (2000–2009)(1). Table S5 Population Rates of Neural and Other Malformations (not Individuals) in the Polissia and non-Polissia Regions of Ukraine and other regions of Europe. Table S6 Teratomas – Rivne, Volyn (2000–2009) and Khmelnytsky (Kh) Provinces (2002–2009)(a). Table S7 Non-Syndromic NTD Associated with Omphaloceles (OM), Body Wall and Other Anomalies in Rivne, Khmelnytsky and Volyn Provinces (2000–2009)(a). Table S8 Gastroschisis and Maternal Age at Delivery: Rivne and Volyn Provinces (2000–2009) and Khmelnytsky Province (2002–2009). Table S9 Encephaloceles and Male-Female (M-F) Proportions.
    Full-text Dataset · Aug 2014
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    Christina D Chambers · Lyubov Yevtushok · Natalya Zymak-Zakutnya · [...] · Wladimir Wertelecki
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are thought to be a leading cause of developmental disabilities worldwide. However, data are lacking on alcohol use among pregnant women in many countries. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prevalence and predictors of alcohol consumption by pregnant women in Ukraine. Cross-sectional screening of pregnant women was conducted in 2 regions of Ukraine during the recruitment phase of an ongoing clinical study that is part of the Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Women attending a routine prenatal visit at 1 of 2 participating regional centers were asked about alcohol consumption. Quantity and frequency of alcoholic beverages consumed in the month around conception and in the most recent month of pregnancy were measured using a standard interview instrument. Between 2007 and 2012, 11,909 pregnant women were screened on average in the second trimester of pregnancy. Of these, 92.7% reported being ever-drinkers. Among ever-drinkers, 54.8% reported drinking alcohol in the month around conception and 12.9% consumed at least 3 drinks on at least 1 day in that time period. In the most recent month of pregnancy, 46.3% continued to report alcohol use and 9.2% consumed at least 3 drinks per day. Significant predictors of average number of drinks or heavier drinking per day in either time period in pregnancy included lower gravidity, being single, unmarried/living with a partner, or separated, lower maternal education, smoking, younger age at initiation of drinking, and higher score on the TWEAK screening test for harmful drinking. These findings support the need for education/intervention in women of childbearing age in Ukraine and can help inform targeted interventions for women at risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy. The initiation of a standard screening protocol in pregnancy is a step in the right direction.
    Full-text Article · Apr 2014 · Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research
  • Wladimir Wertelecki · Lyubov Yevtushok · Natalia Zymak-Zakutnia · [...] · Holly H Hobart
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This population-based descriptive epidemiology study demonstrates that rates of conjoined twins, teratomas, neural tube defects, microcephaly, and microphthalmia in the Rivne province of Ukraine are among the highest in Europe. The province is 200 km distant from the Chornobyl site and its northern half, a region known as Polissia, is significantly polluted by ionizing radiation. The rates of neural tube defects, microcephaly and microphthalmia in Polissia are statistically significantly higher than in the rest of the province. A survey of at-birth head size showed that values were statistically smaller in males and females born in one Polissia county than among neonates born in the capital city. These observations provide clues for confirmatory and cause-effect prospective investigations. The strength of this study stems from a reliance on international standards prevalent in Europe and a decade-long population-based surveillance of congenital malformations in two distinct large populations. The limitations of this study, as those of other descriptive epidemiology investigations, is that identified cause-effect associations require further assessment by specific prospective investigations designed to address specific teratogenic factors.
    Article · Jan 2014 · Congenital Anomalies
  • Article · Sep 2013 · Alcohol and Alcoholism
  • Article · Sep 2013 · Alcohol and Alcoholism
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    B. Wang · W. Wertelecki
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rounding of data is common in practice. The problem of estimating the underlying density function based on data with rounding errors is addressed. A parametric maximum likelihood estimator and a nonparametric bootstrap kernel density estimator are proposed. Simulations indicate that the maximum likelihood approach performs well when prior information on the functional form of the underlying distribution is available, while the kernel-type estimator attains stable and good performance in various cases. The proposed methods are further applied to detect the distributional difference of head circumferences from two Chernobyl impacted regions of Ukraine.
    Full-text Article · Sep 2013 · Computational Statistics & Data Analysis
  • Article · Aug 2013 · Alcohol and Alcoholism
  • J. A. Kable · C. D. Coles · C. D. Chambers · [...] · W. Wertelecki
    Article · May 2012 · Birth Defects Research Part A Clinical and Molecular Teratology
  • J. A. Kable · C. D. Coles · C. D. Chambers · [...] · W. Wertelecki
    Article · May 2012 · Birth Defects Research Part A Clinical and Molecular Teratology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) represent a significant public health problem. The influence of the male partner's alcohol consumption patterns and the quality of the partner's intimate relationship might be important factors to consider in the design of successful FASD prevention programs. As part of the Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, 166 pregnant women in two regions in Ukraine participated in an in-person interview at an average gestational age of 18-19 weeks. Subjects were classified cross-sectionally as abstainers/light drinkers (n = 80), defined as low or no consumption of alcohol in the periconceptional period and none in the most recent 2 weeks of pregnancy; discontinuers (n = 43), defined as moderate to heavy alcohol use in the periconceptional period but none during the most recent 2 weeks of pregnancy; or continuing drinkers (n = 43), defined as continued moderate to heavy alcohol use within the most recent 2 weeks of pregnancy. Women also reported on their partner's drinking behavior and on the quality of their intimate relationship. Heavy paternal drinking was significantly associated with both continuing maternal drinking in the most recent 2 weeks (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 34.1; 95% CI [5.9, 195.8]) and being a risky drinker only around conception (adjusted OR = 27.0; 95% CI [5.0, 147.7]). In addition, women who consumed alcohol during pregnancy had lower mean scores for satisfaction with partners' relationship and ability to discuss problems (p < .05) compared with light drinkers/abstainers. This study suggests that development of partner-based interventions, as opposed to those solely focused on maternal drinking, might be warranted as a strategy to prevent FASD.
    Full-text Article · Jul 2011 · Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs
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    Ruth Greenlees · Amanda Neville · Marie-Claude Addor · [...] · Wladimir Wertelecki
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: EUROCAT is a network of population-based congenital anomaly registries providing standardized epidemiologic information on congenital anomalies in Europe. There are three types of EUROCAT membership: full, associate, or affiliate. Full member registries send individual records of all congenital anomalies covered by their region. Associate members transmit aggregate case counts for each EUROCAT anomaly subgroup by year and by type of birth. This article describes the organization and activities of each of the current 29 full member and 6 associate member registries of EUROCAT. Each registry description provides information on the history and funding of the registry, population coverage including any changes in coverage over time, sources for ascertaining cases of congenital anomalies, and upper age limit for registering cases of congenital anomalies. It also details the legal requirements relating to termination of pregnancy for fetal anomalies, the definition of stillbirths and fetal deaths, and the prenatal screening policy within the registry. Information on availability of exposure information and denominators is provided. The registry description describes how each registry conforms to the laws and guidelines regarding ethics, consent, and confidentiality issues within their own jurisdiction. Finally, information on electronic and web-based data capture, recent registry activities, and publications relating to congenital anomalies, along with the contact details of the registry leader, are provided. The registry description gives a detailed account of the organizational and operational aspects of each registry and is an invaluable resource that aids interpretation and evaluation of registry prevalence data.
    Full-text Article · Mar 2011 · Birth Defects Research Part A Clinical and Molecular Teratology