Education & Certifications

  • MPH, University of California, Berkeley, Epidemiology and Biostatistics (2021)
  • BA, University of California, Berkeley, Public Health and Data Science (2020)

All Publications

  • Causes and consequences of child growth faltering in low-resource settings. Nature Mertens, A., Benjamin-Chung, J., Colford, J. M., Coyle, J., van der Laan, M. J., Hubbard, A. E., Rosete, S., Malenica, I., Hejazi, N., Sofrygin, O., Cai, W., Li, H., Nguyen, A., Pokpongkiat, N. N., Djajadi, S., Seth, A., Jung, E., Chung, E. O., Jilek, W., Subramoney, V., Hafen, R., Häggström, J., Norman, T., Brown, K. H., Christian, P., Arnold, B. F. 2023


    Growth faltering in children (low length for age or low weight for length) during the first 1,000 days of life (from conception to 2 years of age) influences short-term and long-term health and survival1,2. Interventions such as nutritional supplementation during pregnancy and the postnatal period could help prevent growth faltering, but programmatic action has been insufficient to eliminate the high burden of stunting and wasting in low- and middle-income countries. Identification of age windows and population subgroups on which to focus will benefit future preventive efforts. Here we use a population intervention effects analysis of 33 longitudinal cohorts (83,671 children, 662,763 measurements) and 30 separate exposures to show that improving maternal anthropometry and child condition at birth accounted for population increases in length-for-age z-scores of up to 0.40 and weight-for-length z-scores of up to 0.15 by 24 months of age. Boys had consistently higher risk of all forms of growth faltering than girls. Early postnatal growth faltering predisposed children to subsequent and persistent growth faltering. Children with multiple growth deficits exhibited higher mortality rates from birth to 2 years of age than children without growth deficits (hazard ratios 1.9 to 8.7). The importance of prenatal causes and severe consequences for children who experienced early growth faltering support a focus on pre-conception and pregnancy as a key opportunity for new preventive interventions.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-023-06501-x

    View details for PubMedID 37704722

    View details for PubMedCentralID 2270351

  • Early-childhood linear growth faltering in low- and middle-income countries. Nature Benjamin-Chung, J., Mertens, A., Colford, J. M., Hubbard, A. E., van der Laan, M. J., Coyle, J., Sofrygin, O., Cai, W., Nguyen, A., Pokpongkiat, N. N., Djajadi, S., Seth, A., Jilek, W., Jung, E., Chung, E. O., Rosete, S., Hejazi, N., Malenica, I., Li, H., Hafen, R., Subramoney, V., Häggström, J., Norman, T., Brown, K. H., Christian, P., Arnold, B. F. 2023


    Globally, 149 million children under 5 years of age are estimated to be stunted (length more than 2 standard deviations below international growth standards)1,2. Stunting, a form of linear growth faltering, increases the risk of illness, impaired cognitive development and mortality. Global stunting estimates rely on cross-sectional surveys, which cannot provide direct information about the timing of onset or persistence of growth faltering-a key consideration for defining critical windows to deliver preventive interventions. Here we completed a pooled analysis of longitudinal studies in low- and middle-income countries (n = 32 cohorts, 52,640 children, ages 0-24 months), allowing us to identify the typical age of onset of linear growth faltering and to investigate recurrent faltering in early life. The highest incidence of stunting onset occurred from birth to the age of 3 months, with substantially higher stunting at birth in South Asia. From 0 to 15 months, stunting reversal was rare; children who reversed their stunting status frequently relapsed, and relapse rates were substantially higher among children born stunted. Early onset and low reversal rates suggest that improving children's linear growth will require life course interventions for women of childbearing age and a greater emphasis on interventions for children under 6 months of age.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-023-06418-5

    View details for PubMedID 37704719

    View details for PubMedCentralID 5084763

  • Child wasting and concurrent stunting in low- and middle-income countries. Nature Mertens, A., Benjamin-Chung, J., Colford, J. M., Hubbard, A. E., van der Laan, M. J., Coyle, J., Sofrygin, O., Cai, W., Jilek, W., Rosete, S., Nguyen, A., Pokpongkiat, N. N., Djajadi, S., Seth, A., Jung, E., Chung, E. O., Malenica, I., Hejazi, N., Li, H., Hafen, R., Subramoney, V., Häggström, J., Norman, T., Christian, P., Brown, K. H., Arnold, B. F. 2023


    Sustainable Development Goal 2.2-to end malnutrition by 2030-includes the elimination of child wasting, defined as a weight-for-length z-score that is more than two standard deviations below the median of the World Health Organization standards for child growth1. Prevailing methods to measure wasting rely on cross-sectional surveys that cannot measure onset, recovery and persistence-key features that inform preventive interventions and estimates of disease burden. Here we analyse 21 longitudinal cohorts and show that wasting is a highly dynamic process of onset and recovery, with incidence peaking between birth and 3 months. Many more children experience an episode of wasting at some point during their first 24 months than prevalent cases at a single point in time suggest. For example, at the age of 24 months, 5.6% of children were wasted, but by the same age (24 months), 29.2% of children had experienced at least one wasting episode and 10.0% had experienced two or more episodes. Children who were wasted before the age of 6 months had a faster recovery and shorter episodes than did children who were wasted at older ages; however, early wasting increased the risk of later growth faltering, including concurrent wasting and stunting (low length-for-age z-score), and thus increased the risk of mortality. In diverse populations with high seasonal rainfall, the population average weight-for-length z-score varied substantially (more than 0.5 z in some cohorts), with the lowest mean z-scores occurring during the rainiest months; this indicates that seasonally targeted interventions could be considered. Our results show the importance of establishing interventions to prevent wasting from birth to the age of 6 months, probably through improved maternal nutrition, to complement current programmes that focus on children aged 6-59 months.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-023-06480-z

    View details for PubMedID 37704720

    View details for PubMedCentralID 4143239

  • Rigour and reproducibility in perinatal and paediatric epidemiologic research using big data. Paediatric and perinatal epidemiology Nguyen, A., Benjamin-Chung, J. 2023

    View details for DOI 10.1111/ppe.12971

    View details for PubMedID 36959100

  • Evaluation of a city-wide school-located influenza vaccination program in Oakland, California with respect to race and ethnicity: A matched cohort study. Vaccine Nguyen, A. T., Arnold, B. F., Kennedy, C. J., Mishra, K., Pokpongkiat, N. N., Seth, A., Djajadi, S., Holbrook, K., Pan, E., Kirley, P. D., Libby, T., Hubbard, A. E., Reingold, A., Colford, J. M., Benjamin-Chung, J. 2021


    BACKGROUND: Increasing influenza vaccination coverage in school-aged children may substantially reduce community transmission. School-located influenza vaccinations (SLIV) aim to promote vaccinations by increasing accessibility, which may be especially beneficial to race/ethnicity groups that face high barriers to preventative care. Here, we evaluate the effectiveness of a city-wide SLIV program by race/ethnicity from 2014 to 2018.METHODS: We used multivariate matching to pair schools in the intervention district in Oakland, CA with schools in a comparison district in West Contra Costa County, CA. We distributed cross-sectional surveys to measure caregiver-reported student vaccination status and estimated differences in vaccination coverage levels and reasons for non-vaccination between districts stratifying by race/ethnicity. We estimated difference-in-differences (DID) of laboratory confirmed influenza hospitalization incidence between districts stratified by race/ethnicity using surveillance data.RESULTS: Differences in influenza vaccination coverage in the intervention vs. comparison district were larger among White (2017-18: 21.0% difference [95% CI: 9.7%, 32.3%]) and Hispanic/Latino (13.4% [8.8%, 18.0%]) students than Asian/Pacific Islander (API) (8.9% [1.3%, 16.5%]), Black (5.9% [-2.2%, 14.0%]), and multiracial (6.3% [-1.8%, 14.3%)) students. Concerns about vaccine effectiveness or safety were more common among Black and multiracial caregivers. Logistical barriers were less common in the intervention vs. comparison district, with the largest difference among White students. In both districts, hospitalizations in 2017-18 were higher in Blacks (Intervention: 111.5 hospitalizations per 100,00; Comparison: 134.1 per 100,000) vs. other races/ethnicities. All-age influenza hospitalization incidence was lower in the intervention site vs. comparison site among White/API individuals in 2016-17 (DID -25.14 per 100,000 [95% CI: -40.14, -10.14]) and 2017-18 (-36.6 per 100,000 [-52.7, -20.5]) and Black older adults in 2017-18 (-282.2 per 100,000 (-508.4, -56.1]), but not in other groups.CONCLUSIONS: SLIV was associated with higher vaccination coverage and lower influenza hospitalization, but associations varied by race/ethnicity. SLIV alone may be insufficient to ensure equitable influenza outcomes.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.vaccine.2021.11.073

    View details for PubMedID 34872797

  • City-wide school-located influenza vaccination: A retrospective cohort study. Vaccine Benjamin-Chung, J., Arnold, B. F., Mishra, K., Kennedy, C. J., Nguyen, A., Pokpongkiat, N. N., Djajadi, S., Seth, A., Klein, N. P., Hubbard, A. E., Reingold, A., Colford, J. M. 2021


    BACKGROUND: We measured the effectiveness of a city-wide school-located influenza vaccination (SLIV) program implemented in over 102 elementary schools in Oakland, California.METHODS: We conducted a retrospective cohort study among Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) members of all ages residing in either the intervention or a multivariate-matched comparison site from September 2011 - August 2017. Outcomes included medically attended acute respiratory illness (MAARI), influenza hospitalization, and Oseltamivir prescriptions. We estimated difference-in-differences (DIDs) in 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17 using generalized linear models and adjusted for race, ethnicity, age, sex, health plan, and language.RESULTS: Pre-intervention member characteristics were similar between sites. The proportion of KPNC members vaccinated for influenza by KPNC or the SLIV program was 8-11% higher in the intervention site than the comparison site during the intervention period. Among school-aged children, SLIV was associated with lower Oseltamivir prescriptions per 1,000 (DIDs: -3.5 (95% CI -5.5, -1.5) in 2015-16; -4.0 (95% CI -6.5, -1.6) in 2016-17) but not with other outcomes. SLIV was associated with lower MAARI per 1,000 in adults 65+years (2014-15: -13.2, 95% CI -23.2, -3.2; 2015-16: -21.5, 95% CI -31.1, -11.9; 2016-17: -13.0, 95% CI -23.2, -2.9). There were few significant associations with other outcomes among adults.CONCLUSIONS: A city-wide SLIV intervention was associated with higher influenza vaccination coverage, lower Oseltamivir prescriptions in school-aged children, and lower MAARI among people over 65years, suggesting possible indirect effects of SLIV among older adults.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.vaccine.2021.08.099

    View details for PubMedID 34535312

  • Evaluation of a city-wide school-located influenza vaccination program in Oakland, California, with respect to vaccination coverage, school absences, and laboratory-confirmed influenza: A matched cohort study PLOS MEDICINE Benjamin-Chung, J., Arnold, B. F., Kennedy, C. J., Mishra, K., Pokpongkiat, N., Nguyen, A., Jilek, W., Holbrook, K., Pan, E., Kirley, P. D., Libby, T., Hubbard, A. E., Reingold, A., Colford, J. M. 2020; 17 (8): e1003238


    It is estimated that vaccinating 50%-70% of school-aged children for influenza can produce population-wide indirect effects. We evaluated a city-wide school-located influenza vaccination (SLIV) intervention that aimed to increase influenza vaccination coverage. The intervention was implemented in ≥95 preschools and elementary schools in northern California from 2014 to 2018. Using a matched cohort design, we estimated intervention impacts on student influenza vaccination coverage, school absenteeism, and community-wide indirect effects on laboratory-confirmed influenza hospitalizations.We used a multivariate matching algorithm to identify a nearby comparison school district with pre-intervention characteristics similar to those of the intervention school district and matched schools in each district. To measure student influenza vaccination, we conducted cross-sectional surveys of student caregivers in 22 school pairs (2017 survey, N = 6,070; 2018 survey, N = 6,507). We estimated the incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza hospitalization from 2011 to 2018 using surveillance data from school district zip codes. We analyzed student absenteeism data from 2011 to 2018 from each district (N = 42,487,816 student-days). To account for pre-intervention differences between districts, we estimated difference-in-differences (DID) in influenza hospitalization incidence and absenteeism rates using generalized linear and log-linear models with a population offset for incidence outcomes. Prior to the SLIV intervention, the median household income was $51,849 in the intervention site and $61,596 in the comparison site. The population in each site was predominately white (41% in the intervention site, 48% in the comparison site) and/or of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity (26% in the intervention site, 33% in the comparison site). The number of students vaccinated by the SLIV intervention ranged from 7,502 to 10,106 (22%-28% of eligible students) each year. During the intervention, influenza vaccination coverage among elementary students was 53%-66% in the comparison district. Coverage was similar between the intervention and comparison districts in influenza seasons 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 and was significantly higher in the intervention site in seasons 2016-2017 (7%; 95% CI 4, 11; p < 0.001) and 2017-2018 (11%; 95% CI 7, 15; p < 0.001). During seasons when vaccination coverage was higher among intervention schools and the vaccine was moderately effective, there was evidence of statistically significant indirect effects: The DID in the incidence of influenza hospitalization per 100,000 in the intervention versus comparison site was -17 (95% CI -30, -4; p = 0.008) in 2016-2017 and -37 (95% CI -54, -19; p < 0.001) in 2017-2018 among non-elementary-school-aged individuals and -73 (95% CI -147, 1; p = 0.054) in 2016-2017 and -160 (95% CI -267, -53; p = 0.004) in 2017-2018 among adults 65 years or older. The DID in illness-related school absences per 100 school days during the influenza season was -0.63 (95% CI -1.14, -0.13; p = 0.014) in 2016-2017 and -0.80 (95% CI -1.28, -0.31; p = 0.001) in 2017-2018. Limitations of this study include the use of an observational design, which may be subject to unmeasured confounding, and caregiver-reported vaccination status, which is subject to poor recall and low response rates.A city-wide SLIV intervention in a large, diverse urban population was associated with a decrease in the incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza hospitalization in all age groups and a decrease in illness-specific school absence rate among students in 2016-2017 and 2017-2018, seasons when the vaccine was moderately effective, suggesting that the intervention produced indirect effects. Our findings suggest that in populations with moderately high background levels of influenza vaccination coverage, SLIV programs are associated with further increases in coverage and reduced influenza across the community.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003238

    View details for Web of Science ID 000563452200004

    View details for PubMedID 32810149

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7433855

  • Substantial underestimation of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the United States. Nature communications Wu, S. L., Mertens, A. N., Crider, Y. S., Nguyen, A. n., Pokpongkiat, N. N., Djajadi, S. n., Seth, A. n., Hsiang, M. S., Colford, J. M., Reingold, A. n., Arnold, B. F., Hubbard, A. n., Benjamin-Chung, J. n. 2020; 11 (1): 4507


    Accurate estimates of the burden of SARS-CoV-2 infection are critical to informing pandemic response. Confirmed COVID-19 case counts in the U.S. do not capture the total burden of the pandemic because testing has been primarily restricted to individuals with moderate to severe symptoms due to limited test availability. Here, we use a semi-Bayesian probabilistic bias analysis to account for incomplete testing and imperfect diagnostic accuracy. We estimate 6,454,951 cumulative infections compared to 721,245 confirmed cases (1.9% vs. 0.2% of the population) in the United States as of April 18, 2020. Accounting for uncertainty, the number of infections during this period was 3 to 20 times higher than the number of confirmed cases. 86% (simulation interval: 64-99%) of this difference is due to incomplete testing, while 14% (0.3-36%) is due to imperfect test accuracy. The approach can readily be applied in future studies in other locations or at finer spatial scale to correct for biased testing and imperfect diagnostic accuracy to provide a more realistic assessment of COVID-19 burden.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-020-18272-4

    View details for PubMedID 32908126

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7481226