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Home Foreclosure, Health, and Mental Health: A Systematic Review of Individual, Aggregate, and Contextual Associations

July 1, 2015 Comments off

Home Foreclosure, Health, and Mental Health: A Systematic Review of Individual, Aggregate, and Contextual Associations
Source: PLoS ONE

Background
The U.S. foreclosure crisis intensified markedly during the Great Recession of 2007-09, and currently an estimated five percent of U.S. residential properties are more than 90 days past due or in the process of foreclosure. Yet there has been no systematic assessment of the effects of foreclosure on health and mental health.

Methods and Findings
I applied systematic search terms to PubMed and PsycINFO to identify quantitative or qualitative studies about the relationship between home foreclosure and health or mental health. After screening the titles and abstracts of 930 publications and reviewing the full text of 76 articles, dissertations, and other reports, I identified 42 publications representing 35 unique studies about foreclosure, health, and mental health. The majority of studies (32 [91%]) concluded that foreclosure had adverse effects on health or mental health, while three studies yielded null or mixed findings. Only two studies examined the extent to which foreclosure may have disproportionate impacts on ethnic or racial minority populations.

Conclusions
Home foreclosure adversely affects health and mental health through channels operating at multiple levels: at the individual level, the stress of personally experiencing foreclosure was associated with worsened mental health and adverse health behaviors, which were in turn linked to poorer health status; at the community level, increasing degradation of the neighborhood environment had indirect, cross-level adverse effects on health and mental health. Early intervention may be able to prevent acute economic shocks from eventually developing into the chronic stress of foreclosure, with all of the attendant benefits this implies for health and mental health status. Programs designed to encourage early return of foreclosed properties back into productive use may have similar health and mental health benefits.

Past Water Patterns Drive Present Wading Bird Numbers

June 30, 2015 Comments off

Past Water Patterns Drive Present Wading Bird Numbers
Source: USGS/PLoS ONE

Wading bird numbers in the Florida Everglades are driven by water patterns that play out over multiple years according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey and Florida Atlantic University. Previously, existing water conditions were seen as the primary driving factor affecting numbers of birds, but this research shows that the preceding years’ water conditions and availability are equally important.

Trees Grow on Money: Urban Tree Canopy Cover and Environmental Justice

June 25, 2015 Comments off

Trees Grow on Money: Urban Tree Canopy Cover and Environmental Justice
Source: PLoS ONE

This study examines the distributional equity of urban tree canopy (UTC) cover for Baltimore, MD, Los Angeles, CA, New York, NY, Philadelphia, PA, Raleigh, NC, Sacramento, CA, and Washington, D.C. using high spatial resolution land cover data and census data. Data are analyzed at the Census Block Group levels using Spearman’s correlation, ordinary least squares regression (OLS), and a spatial autoregressive model (SAR). Across all cities there is a strong positive correlation between UTC cover and median household income. Negative correlations between race and UTC cover exist in bivariate models for some cities, but they are generally not observed using multivariate regressions that include additional variables on income, education, and housing age. SAR models result in higher r-square values compared to the OLS models across all cities, suggesting that spatial autocorrelation is an important feature of our data. Similarities among cities can be found based on shared characteristics of climate, race/ethnicity, and size. Our findings suggest that a suite of variables, including income, contribute to the distribution of UTC cover. These findings can help target simultaneous strategies for UTC goals and environmental justice concerns.

Heritability of Attractiveness to Mosquitoes

May 27, 2015 Comments off

Heritability of Attractiveness to Mosquitoes
Source: PLoS ONE

Female mosquitoes display preferences for certain individuals over others, which is determined by differences in volatile chemicals produced by the human body and detected by mosquitoes. Body odour can be controlled genetically but the existence of a genetic basis for differential attraction to insects has never been formally demonstrated. This study investigated heritability of attractiveness to mosquitoes by evaluating the response of Aedes aegypti (=Stegomyia aegypti) mosquitoes to odours from the hands of identical and non-identical twins in a dual-choice assay. Volatiles from individuals in an identical twin pair showed a high correlation in attractiveness to mosquitoes, while non-identical twin pairs showed a significantly lower correlation. Overall, there was a strong narrow-sense heritability of 0.62 (SE 0.124) for relative attraction and 0.67 (0.354) for flight activity based on the average of ten measurements. The results demonstrate an underlying genetic component detectable by mosquitoes through olfaction. Understanding the genetic basis for attractiveness could create a more informed approach to repellent development.

Categories: PLoS ONE, science

Estimating the Effect of Intimate Partner Violence on Women’s Use of Contraception: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

May 26, 2015 Comments off

Estimating the Effect of Intimate Partner Violence on Women’s Use of Contraception: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Source: PLoS ONE

Background
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is an important global public health problem. While there is a growing literature on the association between IPV and women’s reproductive health (RH) outcomes, most studies are cross-sectional—which weakens inference about the causal effect of IPV on women’s RH. This systematic review synthesizes existing evidence from the strongest study designs to estimate the impact of IPV on women’s use of contraception.

Methods
We searched 11 electronic databases from January of 1980 to 3 December 2013 and reviewed reference lists from systematic reviews for studies examining IPV and contraceptive use. To be able to infer causality, we limited our review to studies that had longitudinal measures of either IPV or women’s use of contraception.

Results
Of the 1,574 articles identified by the search, we included 179 articles in the full text review and extracted data from 12 studies that met our inclusion criteria. We limited the meta-analysis to seven studies that could be classified as subject to low or moderate levels of bias. Women’s experience of IPV was associated with a significant reduction in the odds of using contraception (n = 14,866; OR: 0.47; 95% CI: 0.25, 0.85; I2 = 92%; 95% CII2: 87%, 96%). Restricting to studies that measured the effect of IPV on women’s use of partner dependent contraceptive methods was associated with a reduction in the heterogeneity of the overall estimate. In the three studies that examined women’s likelihood of using male condoms with their partners, experience of IPV was associated with a significant decrease in condom use (OR: 0.48; 95% CIOR: 0.32, 0.72; I2 = 51%; 95% CII2: 0%, 86%).

Conclusions
IPV is associated with a reduction in women’s use of contraception; women who experience IPV are less likely to report using condoms with their male partners. Family planning and HIV prevention programs should consider women’s experiences of IPV.

Chronic Stress Induces a Hyporeactivity of the Autonomic Nervous System in Response to Acute Mental Stressor and Impairs Cognitive Performance in Business Executives

May 20, 2015 Comments off

Chronic Stress Induces a Hyporeactivity of the Autonomic Nervous System in Response to Acute Mental Stressor and Impairs Cognitive Performance in Business Executives
Source: PLoS ONE

The present study examined the incidence of chronic stress in business executives (109 subjects: 75 male and 34 female) and its relationship with cortisol levels, cognitive performance, and autonomic nervous system (ANS) reactivity after an acute mental stressor. Blood samples were collected from the subjects to measure cortisol concentration. After the sample collection, the subjects completed the Lipp Inventory of Stress Symptoms for Adults and the Stroop Color-Word Test to evaluate stress and cognitive performance levels, respectively. Saliva samples were collected prior to, immediately after, and five minutes after the test. The results revealed that 90.1% of the stressed subjects experienced stress phases that are considered chronic stress. At rest, the subjects with chronic stress showed higher cortisol levels, and no gender differences were observed. No differences were found between the stressed and non-stressed subjects regarding salivary amylase activity prior to test. Chronic stress also impaired performance on the Stroop test, which revealed higher rates of error and longer reaction times in the incongruent stimulus task independently of gender. For the congruent stimulus task of the Stroop test, the stressed males presented a higher rate of errors than the non-stressed males and a longer reaction time than the stressed females. After the acute mental stressor, the non-stressed male group showed an increase in salivary alpha-amylase activity, which returned to the initial values five minutes after the test; this ANS reactivity was not observed in the chronically stressed male subjects. The ANS responses of the non-stressed vs stressed female groups were not different prior to or after the Stroop test. This study is the first to demonstrate a blunted reactivity of the ANS when male subjects with chronic psychological stress were subjected to an acute mental stressor, and this change could contribute to impairments in cognitive performance.

Persistent Organic Pollutants and Early Menopause in U.S. Women

April 30, 2015 Comments off

Persistent Organic Pollutants and Early Menopause in U.S. Women
Source: PLoS ONE

Objective
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) adversely affect human health. Our objective was to determine the association of EDC exposure with earlier age of menopause.

Methods
Cross-sectional survey using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 1999 to 2008 (n = 31,575 females). Eligible participants included: menopausal women >30 years of age; not currently pregnant, breastfeeding, using hormonal contraception; no history of bilateral oophorectomy or hysterectomy. Exposures, defined by serum lipid and urine creatinine-adjusted measures of EDCs, data were analyzed: > 90th percentile of the EDC distribution among all women, log-transformed EDC level, and decile of EDC level. Multi linear regression models considered complex survey design characteristics and adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, smoking, body mass index. EDCs were stratified into long (>1 year), short, and unknown half-lives; principle analyses were performed on those with long half-lives as well as phthalates, known reproductive toxicants. Secondary analysis determined whether the odds of being menopausal increased with EDC exposure among women aged 45–55 years.

Findings
This analysis examined 111 EDCs and focused on known reproductive toxicants or chemicals with half-lives >1 year. Women with high levels of β-hexachlorocyclohexane, mirex, p,p’-DDE, 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-heptachlorodibenzofuran, mono-(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl) and mono-(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl) phthalate, polychlorinated biphenyl congeners −70, −99, −105, −118, −138, −153, −156, −170, and −183 had mean ages of menopause 1.9 to 3.8 years earlier than women with lower levels of these chemicals. EDC-exposed women were up to 6 times more likely to be menopausal than non-exposed women.

Conclusions
This study of a representative sample of US women documents an association between EDCs and earlier age at menopause. We identified 15 EDCs that warrant closer evaluation because of their persistence and potential detrimental effects on ovarian function. Earlier menopause can alter the quantity and quality of a woman’s life and has profound implications for fertility, human reproduction, and our global society.

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