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Ancestral exposure to stress epigenetically programs preterm birth risk and adverse maternal and newborn outcomes

September 2, 2014 Comments off

Ancestral exposure to stress epigenetically programs preterm birth risk and adverse maternal and newborn outcomes
Source: BMC Medicine

Background
Chronic stress is considered to be one of many causes of human preterm birth (PTB), but no direct evidence has yet been provided. Here we show in rats that stress across generations has downstream effects on endocrine, metabolic and behavioural manifestations of PTB possibly via microRNA (miRNA) regulation.

Methods
Pregnant dams of the parental generation were exposed to stress from gestational days 12 to 18. Their pregnant daughters (F1) and grand-daughters (F2) either were stressed or remained as non-stressed controls. Gestational length, maternal gestational weight gain, blood glucose and plasma corticosterone levels, litter size and offspring weight gain from postnatal days 1 to 30 were recorded in each generation, including F3. Maternal behaviours were analysed for the first hour after completed parturition, and offspring sensorimotor development was recorded on postnatal day (P) 7. F0 through F2 maternal brain frontal cortex, uterus and placenta miRNA and gene expression patterns were used to identify stress-induced epigenetic regulatory pathways of maternal behaviour and pregnancy maintenance.

Results
Progressively up to the F2 generation, stress gradually reduced gestational length, maternal weight gain and behavioural activity, and increased blood glucose levels. Reduced offspring growth and delayed behavioural development in the stress cohort was recognizable as early as P7, with the greatest effect in the F3 offspring of transgenerationally stressed mothers. Furthermore, stress altered miRNA expression patterns in the brain and uterus of F2 mothers, including the miR-200 family, which regulates pathways related to brain plasticity and parturition, respectively. Main miR-200 family target genes in the uterus, Stat5b, Zeb1 and Zeb2, were downregulated by multigenerational stress in the F1 generation. Zeb2 was also reduced in the stressed F2 generation, suggesting a causal mechanism for disturbed pregnancy maintenance. Additionally, stress increased placental miR-181a, a marker of human PTB.

Conclusions
The findings indicate that a family history of stress may program central and peripheral pathways regulating gestational length and maternal and newborn health outcomes in the maternal lineage. This new paradigm may model the origin of many human PTB causes.

See: Stress during pregnancy can be passed down through generations (EurekAlert!)

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Social Mobility and the Importance of Networks: Evidence for Britain

September 1, 2014 Comments off

Social Mobility and the Importance of Networks: Evidence for Britain (PDF)
Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

Greater levels of social mobility are widely seen as desirable on grounds of both equity and efficiency. Debate on social mobility in Britain and elsewhere has recently focused on specific factors that might hinder social mobility, including the role of internships and similar employment opportunities that parents can sometimes secure for their children. We address the help that parents give their children in the job market using data from the new age 42 wave of the 1970 British Cohort Study. We consider help given to people from all family backgrounds and not just to graduates and those in higher level occupations who have tended to be the focus in the debate in Britain. Specifically, our data measure whether respondents had ever had help to get a job from (i) parents and (ii) other relatives and friends and the form of that help. We first assess the extent and type of help. We then determine whether people from higher socio-economic status families are more or less likely to have such help and whether the help is associated with higher wages and higher occupations. Our paper provides insight into whether the strong link between parental socio-economic background and the individual’s own economic success can be explained in part by the parents assisting their children to get jobs. We find parental help to have a strong social gradient. But we are unable to identify a clear link between any particular type of help – advice, help through contacts etc. – and individuals’ wages or occupations.

AU — Profiling parental child sex abuse

August 30, 2014 Comments off

Profiling parental child sex abuse
Source: Australian Institute for Criminology

Public policy initiatives to redress parental child sexual offenders have been hindered by the absence of an offending profile that characterises this core group of intrafamilial offenders. Drawing on data from a sample of 213 offenders, this study augments knowledge about sex offender typologies by identifying ten key descriptive features of parental offenders.

The findings revealed that parental sex offenders have a distinctive profile unlike that of other child sexual offenders and are more criminally versatile than presupposed. This may provide useful information to support clinical practice and preventive interventions aimed at increasing offender desistance and reducing threats to the safety and welfare of young children and their families.

Unexplained Deaths in Infancy: England and Wales, 2012

August 28, 2014 Comments off

Unexplained Deaths in Infancy: England and Wales, 2012
Source: Office for National Statistics

Key Points

  • 221 unexplained infant deaths occurred in England and Wales in 2012, a rate of 0.30 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  • Almost three-quarters (71%) of these unexplained deaths were recorded as sudden infant deaths, and 29% were recorded as unascertained.
  • Unexplained infant deaths accounted for 8% of all infant deaths occurring in 2012.
  • Eight out of ten unexplained infant deaths occurred in the post-neonatal period (between 28 days and 1 year).
  • Almost two-thirds (64%) of unexplained infant deaths were boys in 2012 (141 deaths).
  • The rate of unexplained infant death was three times higher among low birthweight babies (less than 2,500g) than babies with a normal birthweight (2,500g and over).

Does the Gender of Offspring Affect Parental Political Orientation?

August 27, 2014 Comments off

Does the Gender of Offspring Affect Parental Political Orientation?
Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

Recently, the sex of child has been widely used as a natural experiment and shown to induce change of the allegedly stable political predisposition, however, prior results have been contradictory: in the U.K., researchers found that having daughters leads to parents favoring left-wing political parties and to holding more liberal views on family/gender roles, whereas in the U.S. scholars found that daughters were associated with more Republican (rightist) party identification and more conservative views on teen sexuality. Here, we utilize data from the General Social Survey and the European Social Survey to test the robustness of effects of offspring sex on parental political orientation while factoring out country and period differences. In analysis of 36 countries, we obtain null effects of the sex of the first child on party identification as well as on political ideology. Further, we observe no evidence of heterogeneous treatment effects. We discuss the implications of these null findings for theories of political socialization.

+ Non-paywall version (PDF)

Racial Disparities in Access to Maternity Care Practices That Support Breastfeeding — United States, 2011

August 25, 2014 Comments off

Racial Disparities in Access to Maternity Care Practices That Support Breastfeeding — United States, 2011
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

Despite the well documented health benefits of breastfeeding (1), initiation of breastfeeding and breastfeeding duration rates among black infants in the United States are approximately 16% lower than among whites (2). Although many factors play a role in a woman’s ability to breastfeed, experiences during the childbirth hospitalization are critical for establishing breastfeeding (3). To analyze whether the implementation by maternity facilities of practices that support breastfeeding varied depending on the racial composition of the area surrounding the facility, CDC linked data from its 2011 Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (mPINC) survey to U.S. Census data on the percentage of blacks living within the zip code area of each facility. The results of that analysis indicated that facilities in zip code areas where the percentage of black residents was >12.2% (the national average during 2007–2011) were less likely than facilities in zip code areas where the percentage was ≤12.2% to meet five of 10 mPINC indicators for recommended practices supportive of breastfeeding and more likely to implement one practice; differences for the other four practices were not statistically significant. Comparing facilities in areas with >12.2% black residents with facilities in areas with ≤12.2% black residents, the largest differences were in the percentage of facilities that implemented recommended practices related to early initiation of breastfeeding (46.0% compared with 59.9%), limited use of breastfeeding supplements (13.1% compared with 25.8%), and rooming-in (27.7% compared with 39.4%). These findings suggest there are racial disparities in access to maternity care practices known to support breastfeeding.

Safeguarding Children and Youth from Sexual Predators

August 22, 2014 Comments off

Safeguarding Children and Youth from Sexual Predators (PDF)
Source: University of Minnesota REACH Lab

In response to a request from The Office of Family Policy, Children and Youth, the Center for Research and Outreach (REACH) team conducted a review of the literature focused on safeguarding children and youth from sexual predators. An extensive and systematic review of the literature was conducted identifying relevant articles and reports ; approximately 400 documents were reviewed for this report . This report focuses on both the tactics that offenders utilize in grooming young people for sexual abuse, as well as existing programs that are in place to protect young people from predatory practices. Based on th e extensive review of empirical evidence , organizational best practices and recommendations are also identified.

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