All Publications


  • Seasonal patterns of relapse and disability in Danish MS patients: A population-based cohort study. Multiple sclerosis and related disorders Elser, H. C., Koch-Henriksen, N., Magyari, M. 2021; 49: 102739

    Abstract

    The importance of environmental risk factors in the onset of multiple sclerosis (MS) has been studied extensively. Similarly, a growing number of studies address the importance of environmental factors, including seasonality, for ongoing activity of established disease. Specifically, past research demonstrates higher rates of relapse activity in summer months among individuals with MS. Our study adds to the existing literature on seasonality of disease relapse by analysing a large population-based and virtually complete cohort of patient with relapsing and remitting MS (RRMS) in an area of temperate climate.The Danish Multiple Sclerosis Registry includes follow-up for all patients receiving disease modifying treatment from 1996-2020, with near-complete registration of all relapses and their dates. We compared the observed and expected numbers of relapses for each calendar month and calculated month-specific annualized relapse rates (ARR) using Poisson regression. In addition, we analysed seasonal variation in disability as measured by the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS).From 1996 to 2020 we followed 13,575 MS patients treated with disease modifying therapy (4165 men and 9410 women) for a total of 82,187 person years and 134,593 control visits. The mean age at entry was 41.1 years with standard deviation 10.9 years. We recorded 16,083 relapses throughout the observation period, and for 15,728 of the relapses the date of onset was known. Relapses were unevenly distributed by calendar month (p < 0.00001). The most prominent deviation was a paucity of relapses in July in which the ARR was 0.166 compared with mean of 0.191 for the whole year. Otherwise, the ARR formed a plateau slightly above mean during the spring months. Mean EDSS was slightly higher in autumn (2.78) than in spring (2.74), but there was no difference between winter and summer; p < 0.0001.In contrast with previous studies, we observed a nadir of relapses in July among Danish patients with RRMS. This finding may be related to increased exposure to sunlight in the summer, particularly during vacation when outdoor recreational activities are more frequent and potential exposure to infections is decreased. Confirmation of this in future studies is warranted.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.msard.2021.102739

    View details for PubMedID 33450501

  • Petro-riskscapes and environmental distress in West Texas: Community perceptions of environmental degradation, threats, and loss. Energy research & social science Elser, H., Goldman-Mellor, S., Morello-Frosch, R., Deziel, N. C., Ranjbar, K., Casey, J. A. 2020; 70

    Abstract

    Unconventional oil and gas development (UOGD) expanded rapidly in the United States between 2004-2019 with resultant industrial change to landscapes and new environmental exposures. By 2019, West Texas' Permian Basin accounted for 35% of domestic oil production. We conducted an online survey of 566 Texans in 2019 to examine the implications of UOGD using three measures from the Environmental Distress Scale (EDS): perceived threat of environmental issues, felt impact of environmental change, and loss of solace when valued environments are transformed ("solastalgia"). We found increased levels of environmental distress among respondents living in counties in the Permian Basin who reported a 2.75% increase in perceived threat of environmental issues (95% CI = -1.14, 6.65) and a 4.21% increase in solastalgia (95% CI = 0.03, 8.40). In our subgroup analysis of women, we found higher EDS subscale scores among respondents in Permian Basin counties for perceived threat of environmental issues (4.08%, 95% CI= -0.12, 8.37) and solastalgia (7.09%, 95% CI= 2.44, 11.88). In analysis restricted to Permian Basin counties, we found exposure to at least one earthquake of magnitude ≥ 3 was associated with increases in perceived threat of environmental issues (4.69%, 95% CI = 0.15, 9.23), and that county-level exposure to oil and gas injection wells was associated with increases in felt impact (4.38%, 95% CI = -1.77, 10.54) and solastalgia (4.06%, 95% CI = 3.02, 11.14). Our results indicate increased environmental distress in response to UOGD-related environmental degradation among Texans and highlight the importance of considering susceptible sub-groups.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.erss.2020.101798

    View details for PubMedID 33072520

  • Suicide, overdose and worker exit in a cohort of Michigan autoworkers. Journal of epidemiology and community health Eisen, E. A., Chen, K. T., Elser, H., Picciotto, S., Riddell, C. A., Combs, M. A., Dufault, S. M., Goldman-Mellor, S., Cohen, J. 2020

    Abstract

    BACKGROUND: In recent decades, suicide and fatal overdose rates have increased in the US, particularly for working-age adults with no college education. The coincident decline in manufacturing has limited stable employment options for this population. Erosion of the Michigan automobile industry provides a striking case study.METHODS: We used individual-level data from a retrospective cohort study of 26804 autoworkers in the United Autoworkers-General Motors cohort, using employment records from 1970 to 1994 and mortality follow-up from 1970 to 2015. We estimated HRs for suicide or fatal overdose in relation to leaving work, measured as active or inactive employment status and age at worker exit.RESULTS: There were 257 deaths due to either suicide (n=202) or overdose (n=55); all but 21 events occurred after leaving work. The hazard rate for suicide was 16.1 times higher for inactive versus active workers (95% CI 9.8 to 26.5). HRs for suicide were elevated for all younger age groups relative to those leaving work after age 55. Those 30-39years old at exit had the highest HR for suicide, 1.9 (95% CI 1.2 to 3.0). When overdose was included, the rate increased by twofold for both 19- to 29-year-olds and 30- to 39-year-olds at exit. Risks remained elevated when follow-up was restricted to 5 years after exit.CONCLUSIONS: Autoworkers who left work had a higher risk of suicide or overdose than active employees. Those who left before retirement age had higher rates than those who left after, suggesting that leaving work early may increase the risk.

    View details for DOI 10.1136/jech-2020-214117

    View details for PubMedID 32641405

  • Gender, Depression, and Blue-collar Work: A Retrospective Cohort Study of US Aluminum Manufacturers. Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.) Elser, H., Rehkopf, D. H., Meausoone, V., Jewell, N. P., Eisen, E. A., Cullen, M. R. 2019; 30 (3): 435–44

    Abstract

    BACKGROUND: Industrial blue-collar workers face multiple work-related stressors, but evidence regarding the burden of mental illness among today's blue-collar men and women remains limited.METHODS: In this retrospective cohort study, we examined health and employment records for 37,183 blue- and white-collar workers employed by a single US aluminum manufacturer from 2003 to 2013. Using Cox proportional hazards regression, we modeled time to first episode of treated depression by gender and occupational class. Among cases, we modeled rates of depression-related service utilization with generalized gamma regression.RESULTS: Compared with their white-collar counterparts, blue-collar men were more likely to be treated for depression (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.3; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.1, 1.4) as were blue-collar women (HR = 1.4; 1.2, 1.6). Blue-collar women were most likely to be treated for depression as compared with white-collar men (HR = 3.2; 95% CI = 2.1, 5.0). However, blue-collar workers used depression-related services less frequently than their white-collar counterparts among both men (rate ratio = 0.91; 95% CI = 0.84, 0.98) and women (rate ratio = 0.82; 95% CI = 0.77, 0.88).CONCLUSIONS: Blue-collar women were more likely to be treated for depression than white-collar workers, and blue-collar women were most likely to be treated for depression compared with white-collar men. However, blue-collar men and women used depression-related healthcare services less frequently than white-collar workers. These findings underscore that blue-collar women may be uniquely susceptible to depression, and suggest that blue-collar workers may encounter barriers to care-seeking related mental illness other than their insurance status.

    View details for PubMedID 30964814

  • Gender, Depression, and Blue-collar Work A Retrospective Cohort Study of US Aluminum Manufacturers EPIDEMIOLOGY Elser, H., Rehkopf, D. H., Meausoone, V., Jewell, N. R., Eisen, E. A., Cullen, M. R. 2019; 30 (3): 435–44
  • The Impact of the first COVID-19 shelter-in-place announcement on social distancing, difficulty in daily activities, and levels of concern in the San Francisco Bay Area: A cross-sectional social media survey. PloS one Elser, H., Kiang, M. V., John, E. M., Simard, J. F., Bondy, M., Nelson, L. M., Chen, W. T., Linos, E. 2021; 16 (1): e0244819

    Abstract

    The U.S. has experienced an unprecedented number of orders to shelter in place throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We aimed to ascertain whether social distancing; difficulty with daily activities; and levels of concern regarding COVID-19 changed after the March 16, 2020 announcement of the nation's first shelter-in-place orders (SIPO) among individuals living in the seven affected counties in the San Francisco Bay Area.We conducted an online, cross-sectional social media survey from March 14 -April 1, 2020. We measured changes in social distancing behavior; experienced difficulties with daily activities (i.e., access to healthcare, childcare, obtaining essential food and medications); and level of concern regarding COVID-19 after the March 16 shelter-in-place announcement in the San Francisco Bay Area versus elsewhere in the U.S.In this non-representative sample, the percentage of respondents social distancing all of the time increased following the shelter-in-place announcement in the Bay Area (9.2%, 95% CI: 6.6, 11.9) and elsewhere in the U.S. (3.4%, 95% CI: 2.0, 5.0). Respondents also reported increased difficulty obtaining hand sanitizer, medications, and in particular respondents reported increased difficulty obtaining food in the Bay Area (13.3%, 95% CI: 10.4, 16.3) and elsewhere (8.2%, 95% CI: 6.6, 9.7). We found limited evidence that level of concern regarding the COVID-19 crisis changed following the announcement.This study characterizes early changes in attitudes, behaviors, and difficulties. As states and localities implement, rollback, and reinstate shelter-in-place orders, ongoing efforts to more fully examine the social, economic, and health impacts of COVID-19, especially among vulnerable populations, are urgently needed.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0244819

    View details for PubMedID 33444363

  • Developing Tobacco Control Interventions in Permanent Supportive Housing for Formerly Homeless Adults HEALTH PROMOTION PRACTICE Alizaga, N. M., Nguyen, T., Petersen, A., Elser, H., Vijayaraghavan, M. 2020; 21 (6): 972–82
  • Among Low-Income Women In San Francisco, Low Awareness Of Paid Parental Leave Benefits Inhibits Take-Up. Health affairs (Project Hope) Goodman, J. M., Elser, H., Dow, W. H. 2020; 39 (7): 1157–65

    Abstract

    Paid family leave policies have the potential to reduce health disparities, yet access to paid leave remains limited and unevenly distributed in the United States. Using California administrative claims data, we examined the impact of the San Francisco Paid Parental Leave Ordinance, the first in the US to provide parental leave with full pay. We found that the law increased parental leave uptake in San Francisco by 13percent among fathers, but there was little change in leave among mothers. Data from a survey of mothers suggest that the limited impact may be partly a result of low understanding of benefits. Lower-income mothers reported even less knowledge of their maternity leave benefits than other mothers, and fewer than 2percent of lower-income mothers had accurate information about the policy. The San Francisco policy also excludes small employers, which further limits its reach among low-income workers. A simpler universal policy may be more effective in expanding parental leave among vulnerable workers.

    View details for DOI 10.1377/hlthaff.2020.00157

    View details for PubMedID 32634354

  • Collective Optimism and Selection Against Male Twins in Utero TWIN RESEARCH AND HUMAN GENETICS Catalano, R. A., Goldman-Mellor, S., Karasek, D. A., Gemmill, A., Casey, J. A., Elser, H., Bruckner, T. A., Hartig, T. 2020; 23 (1): 45–50

    Abstract

    Scholarly literature claims that health declines in populations when optimism about investing in the future wanes. This claim leads us to describe collective optimism as a predictor of selection in utero. Based on the literature, we argue that the incidence of suicide gauges collective optimism in a population and therefore willingness to invest in the future. Using monthly data from Sweden for the years 1973-2016, we test the hypothesis that the incidence of suicide among women of child-bearing age correlates inversely with male twin births, an indicator of biological investment in high-risk gestations. We find that, as predicted by our theory, the incidence of suicide at month t varies inversely with the ratio of twin to singleton male births at month t + 3. Our results illustrate the likely sensitivity of selection in utero to change in the social environment and so the potential for viewing collective optimism as a component of public health infrastructure.

    View details for DOI 10.1017/thg.2020.2

    View details for Web of Science ID 000530316700007

    View details for PubMedID 31983362

  • Still- and Live Births in the Periviable Period. Annals of epidemiology Elser, H., Gemmill, A., Casey, J. A., Karasek, D., Bruckner, T., Mayo, J. A., Lee, H. C., Stevenson, D. K., Shaw, G. M., Catalano, R. 2020

    Abstract

    We use data from California, where 13% of US births occur, to address two questions arising from efforts in the first decade of this century to avoid stillbirth before 25 6/7 weeks of gestation (i.e., in the periviable period). First, did stillbirths decline in the first decade of this century? Second, if stillbirths did decline, did periviable live births increase simultaneously? Answering these questions would seem important given that periviable infants represent <1% of live births but account for roughly 40% of infant mortality and 20% of hospital-based obstetric costs in the US.We constructed 240 monthly conception cohorts, starting with that conceived in January 1991, from 9,880,536 singleton pregnancies that reached the 20 0/7 week of gestation. We used time-series design and Box-Jenkins methods that address confounding by autocorrelation, including secular trends and seasonality to answer our questions.We detected a downward shift in stillbirths in April 2007 that coincided with an upward shift in periviable live births.Our findings imply that, since 2007, fewer Californians than expected from history and from the size of conception cohorts reaching 20 0/7 weeks of gestation, have had to contend with the sequelae of stillbirth, but more than expected likely have had to contend with those of periviable birth.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.annepidem.2020.07.002

    View details for PubMedID 32648545

  • Alternative flavored and unflavored tobacco product use and cigarette quit attempts among current smokers experiencing homelessness. Addictive behaviors reports Alizaga, N. M., Hartman-Filson, M., Elser, H., Halpern-Felsher, B., Vijayaraghavan, M. 2020; 12: 100280

    Abstract

    Alternative tobacco product (ATP) use is common in the general population; however, few studies have explored ATP among individuals experiencing homelessness. We recruited individuals experiencing homelessness who were current cigarette smokers to explore flavored and unflavored ATP use and its association with past-year cigarette quit attempts.Using time-location sampling, we recruited participants from eight service sites in San Francisco, CA between December 2017 and July 2018. We explored type of ATP use and perceptions of product addiction, harm and risk between cigarette-only smokers and those who used cigarettes and ATPs ('ATP users'). We used logistic regression to examine the association between ATP and past-year quit attempts, adjusting for demographics, substance use disorders, depressive symptoms, and cigarette use characteristics.Among the 470 participants, 34.5% were cigarette-only users and 65.5% were ATP users. Among ATP users, 74.0% used cigars and 29.8% used e-cigarettes in the past month, with fruit-flavored products being the most common. ATP users were more likely to perceive cigars, blunts, and smokeless tobacco to be quite to extremely harmful or addictive compared to cigarette-only users. ATP use was not associated with past-year quit attempts, whereas hazardous alcohol use (OR = 2.07; CI 1.07-4.02) was associated with higher odds and and amphetamine use (OR = 0.50; CI 0.26-0.98) was associated with lower odds of past-year attempts.High rates of ATP use highlight a need for studies that explore motivations for use, beyond use as a smoking cessation aid, among people experiencing homelessness.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.abrep.2020.100280

    View details for PubMedID 32637560

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7330871

  • Language-Related Disparities in Pain Management in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit for Children Undergoing Laparoscopic Appendectomy. Children (Basel, Switzerland) Dixit, A. A., Elser, H., Chen, C. L., Ferschl, M., Manuel, S. P. 2020; 7 (10)

    Abstract

    Race and ethnicity are associated with disparities in pain management in children. While low English language proficiency is correlated with minority race/ethnicity in the United States, it is less frequently explored in the study of health disparities. We therefore investigated whether English language proficiency influenced pain management in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) in a cohort of children who underwent laparoscopic appendectomy at our pediatric hospital in San Francisco. Our primary exposure was English language proficiency, and our primary outcome was administration of any opioid medication in the PACU. Secondary outcomes included the amount of opioid administered in the PACU and whether any pain score was recorded during the patient's recovery period. Statistical analysis included adjusting for demographic covariates including race in estimating the effect of language proficiency on these outcomes. In our cohort of 257 pediatric patients, 57 (22.2%) had low English proficiency (LEP). While LEP and English proficient (EP) patients received the same amount of opioid medication intraoperatively, in multivariable analysis, LEP patients had more than double the odds of receiving any opioid in the PACU (OR 2.45, 95% CI 1.22-4.92). LEP patients received more oral morphine equivalents (OME) than EP patients (1.64 OME/kg, CI 0.67-3.84), and they also had almost double the odds of having no pain score recorded during their PACU recovery period (OR 1.93, CI 0.79-4.73), although the precision of these estimates was limited by small sample size. Subgroup analysis showed that children over the age of 5 years, who were presumably more verbal and would therefore undergo verbal pain assessments, had over triple the odds of having no recorded pain score (OR 3.23, CI 1.48-7.06). In summary, English language proficiency may affect the management of children's pain in the perioperative setting. The etiology of this language-related disparity is likely multifactorial and should be investigated further.

    View details for DOI 10.3390/children7100163

    View details for PubMedID 33020409

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease mortality: The Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study (DEMS). Environmental research Ferguson, J. M., Costello, S., Elser, H., Neophytou, A. M., Picciotto, S., Silverman, D. T., Eisen, E. A. 2019: 108876

    Abstract

    BACKGROUND: Miners are highly exposed to diesel exhaust emissions from powered equipment. Although biologically plausible, there is little evidence based on quantitative exposure assessment, that long-term diesel exposure increases risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). To fill this gap, we examined COPD mortality and diesel exhaust exposure in the Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study (DEMS).METHODS: We fit Cox models to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) for COPD mortality and cumulative exposure (mug/m3-years) to respirable elemental carbon (REC), a key metric for diesel exhaust exposure. Separate models were fit for ever-underground and surface-only miners to allow for effect modification. Exposure was lagged by 0, 10 and 15 years. In a secondary analysis, we addressed the healthy worker survivor effect by applying the parametric g-formula to handle time-varying confounding affected by prior exposure among ever-underground workers.RESULTS: Based on 140 cases, the HRs for COPD mortality increased as categories of lagged REC exposure increased for all workers. Among surface-only workers, those in the middle exposure category (0 lag) had a significantly elevated hazard ratio of 2.34 (95% CI: 1.11-4.61) relative to those in the lowest category. Among the ever-underground, that ratio was 1.35, with wide confidence intervals. Using the g-formula, we estimated that the lifetime cumulative risk of COPD mortality would have been reduced from the observed 5.0%-3.1% under a hypothetical intervention where all ever-underground workers were always unexposed.CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest long term exposure to diesel exhaust may increase risk of COPD in miners, though power was limited.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.envres.2019.108876

    View details for PubMedID 31711661

  • Association of Preterm Births Among US Latina Women With the 2016 Presidential Election JAMA NETWORK OPEN Gemmill, A., Catalano, R., Casey, J. A., Karasek, D., Alcala, H. E., Elser, H., Torres, J. M. 2019; 2 (7): e197084

    Abstract

    The circumstances surrounding the 2016 US presidential election have been proposed as a significant stressor in the lives of the US Latino population. Few studies to date, however, have evaluated the population health implications of the election for Latina mothers and their children.To determine whether preterm births (gestational age, <37 weeks) among US Latina women increased above expected levels after the 2016 US presidential election.In this national population-based study, an interrupted time series design, used to evaluate whether policies or other population-level changes interrupt a trend in an outcome, compared monthly counts of preterm births to Latina women after the 2016 presidential election with the number expected had the election not taken place. Women residing in the United States who had singleton births during the study period were included. Counts of singleton term and preterm births by month and race/ethnicity from January 1, 2009, through July 30, 2017 (32 860 727 live births), were obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wonder online database. These methods were applied separately to male and female births. Data were analyzed from November 8, 2018, through May 7, 2019.Pregnancy in the 2016 US presidential election.The number of male and female preterm births based on the last menstrual period.Among the 32 860 727 live births recorded during the study period, 11.0% of male and 9.6% of female births to Latina women were preterm compared with 10.2% and 9.3%, respectively, to other women. In the 9-month period beginning with November 2016, an additional 1342 male (95% CI, 795-1889) and 995 female (95% CI, 554-1436) preterm births to Latina women were found above the expected number of preterm births had the election not occurred.The 2016 US presidential election appears to have been associated with an increase in preterm births among US Latina women. Anti-immigration policies have been proposed and enforced in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election; future research should evaluate the association of these actions with population health.

    View details for DOI 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.7084

    View details for Web of Science ID 000477895900038

    View details for PubMedID 31322687

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6647358

  • Developing Tobacco Control Interventions in Permanent Supportive Housing for Formerly Homeless Adults. Health promotion practice Alizaga, N. M., Nguyen, T., Petersen, A. B., Elser, H., Vijayaraghavan, M. 2019: 1524839919839358

    Abstract

    Smoke-free policies are effective population-based strategies to reduce tobacco use yet are uncommon in permanent supportive housing (PSH) for formerly homeless individuals who have high rates of smoking. In this study, we partnered with six supportive housing agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area to examine the implementation of smoke-free policies and cessation services. We administered a questionnaire and conducted in-depth, semistructured interviews with agency directors (n = 6), property management staff (n = 23), and services staff (n = 24) from 23 PSH sites on the barriers to implementing tobacco control interventions. All properties restricted smoking in indoor shared areas, but only two had policies restricting smoking in living areas. While there was staff consensus that smoke-free policies were important to reduce tobacco-related harm, participants disagreed on whether smoke-free policies were aligned with PSH's harm reduction framework. Residents' comorbid mental illness and substance use and the lack of appropriate enforcement tools were barriers to implementation. Using these formative findings, we present a framework for a toolkit of strategies to increase implementation of smoke-free policies and cessation interventions in PSH. Successful implementation of indoor smoke-free policies in PSH will require concurrent cessation services to support smoking cessation efforts and address the mental health and substance use needs of residents.

    View details for PubMedID 30971139

  • Increased motor vehicle crashes following induced earthquakes in Oklahoma, USA SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT Casey, J. A., Elser, H., Goldman-Mellor, S., Catalano, R. 2019; 650: 2974–79

    Abstract

    Anxiety-inducing life events increase the risk of motor vehicle crashes. We test the hypothesis that earthquakes, known to increase anxiety in the population, also increase the incidence of motor vehicle crashes. Our study took place in Oklahoma, USA where wastewater injection resulted in increased induced seismicity between 2010 and 2016. We identified dates of earthquakes ≥ magnitude 4 (a level felt by most people) with data from the U.S. Geologic Survey. The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office provided county-level monthly vehicle crash counts. We defined high, medium, and low earthquake exposure counties based on the location of earthquake epicenters. Using time-series analyses, we evaluated the association between monthly counts of ≥magnitude 4 earthquakes and motor vehicle crashes by exposure group. Earthquakes ≥ magnitude 4 took place in 38 of 84 study months, and a monthly average of 5813 (SD = 384) crashes occurred between 2010 and 2016. In high-exposure counties, we observed an additional 39.2 motor vehicle crashes per each additional ≥ magnitude 4 earthquake in the prior month (SE = 11.5). We found no association between the timing of ≥magnitude 4 earthquakes and motor vehicle crashes in the medium or low exposure counties. With a binary earthquake exposure variable, we found a 4.6% (SE = 1.4%) increase in motor vehicle crashes in the high exposure counties in the month following 1 or more ≥magnitude 4 earthquakes. Consistent with our hypothesis, there was no association between earthquakes of magnitude ≤ 2.5 and motor vehicle crashes in the high-exposure counties. This novel evidence of an association between induced earthquakes in Oklahoma and motor vehicle crashes warrants future research given the high economic and social costs of such vehicle crashes.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.10.043

    View details for Web of Science ID 000447871400124

    View details for PubMedID 30373073

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6214370

  • Sun Smoke in Sweden: Perinatal Implications of the Laki Volcanic Eruptions, 1783-1784. Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.) Casey, J. A., Gemmill, A., Elser, H., Karasek, D., Catalano, R. 2019; 30 (3): 330–33

    Abstract

    The Icelandic volcano Laki erupted from June 1783 through January 1784. It produced 122 megatons of sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and acid rain and contributed to one of the coldest winters on record in Western Europe. Although uncontrollable volcanic eruptions continue, few studies have investigated their perinatal health implications.Using the Human Mortality Database, we assessed the association between the Laki event and the secondary sex ratio, infant mortality rates, and the number of births from 1751 to 1800 with time-series models that controlled for temporal trends.The secondary sex ratio decreased 3% below expected levels in 1784 (95% CI = -4%, -1%). Both female and male infant mortality rates exceeded expectation in 1785, by 54% (95% CI = 25%, 83%) and 37% (-1%, 74%), respectively. We observed little change in female live births but a reduction in male live births in 1784.Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the large-scale Laki volcanic eruptions of 1783-1784 resulted in adverse perinatal health outcomes in Sweden.

    View details for DOI 10.1097/EDE.0000000000000977

    View details for PubMedID 30789427

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6456407

  • Blue-collar work and women's health: A systematic review of the evidence from 1990 to 2015 SSM-POPULATION HEALTH Elser, H., Falconi, A. M., Bass, M., Cullen, M. R. 2018; 6: 195–244
  • How and why studies disagree about the effects of education on health: A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies of compulsory schooling laws SOCIAL SCIENCE & MEDICINE Hamad, R., Elser, H., Tran, D. C., Rehkopf, D. H., Goodman, S. N. 2018; 212: 168–78

    Abstract

    Rich literatures across multiple disciplines document the association between increased educational attainment and improved health. While quasi-experimental studies have exploited variation in educational policies to more rigorously estimate the health effects of education, there remains disagreement about whether education and health are causally linked. The aim of this study was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis to characterize this literature, with a focus on quasi-experimental studies of compulsory schooling laws (CSLs). Articles from 1990 to 2015 were obtained through electronic searches and manual searches of reference lists. We searched for English-language studies and included manuscripts if: (1) they involved original data analysis; (2) outcomes were health-related; and (3) the primary predictor utilized variation in CSLs. We identified 89 articles in 25 countries examining over 25 health outcomes, with over 600 individual point estimates. We systematically characterized heterogeneity on key study design features and conducted a meta-analysis of studies with comparable health outcome and exposure variables. Within countries, studies differed in terms of birth cohorts included, the measurement of health outcomes within a given category, and the type of CSL variation examined. Over 90% of manuscripts included multiple analytic techniques, such as econometric and standard regression methods, with as many as 31 "primary" models in a single study. A qualitative synthesis of study findings indicated that educational attainment has an effect on the majority of health outcomes-most beneficial, some negative-while the meta-analysis demonstrated small beneficial effects for mortality, smoking, and obesity. Future work could focus on inconsistent findings identified by this study, or review the health effects of other types of educational policies.

    View details for PubMedID 30036767

  • Smoking Policy Change Within Permanent Supportive Housing JOURNAL OF COMMUNITY HEALTH Petersen, A., Stewart, H. C., Walters, J., Vijayaraghavan, M. 2018; 43 (2): 312–20

    Abstract

    Smoke-free policies effectively reduce secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure among non-smokers, and reduce consumption, encourage quit attempts, and minimize relapse to smoking among smokers. Such policies are uncommon in permanent supportive housing (PSH) for formerly homeless individuals. In this study, we collaborated with a PSH provider in San Diego, California to assess a smoke-free policy that restricted indoor smoking. Between August and November 2015, residents completed a pre-policy questionnaire on attitudes toward smoke-free policies and exposure to secondhand smoke, and then 7-9 months after policy implementation residents were re-surveyed. At follow-up, there was a 59.7% reduction in indoor smoking. The proportion of residents who identified as current smokers reduced by 13% (95% CI: -38, 10.2). The proportion of residents who reported never smelling SHS indoors (apartment 24.2%, 95% CI: 4.2, 44.1; shared areas 17.2%, 95% CI: 1.7, 32.7); in outdoor areas next to the living unit (porches or patio 56.7%, 95% CI: 40.7, 72.8); and in other outdoor areas (parking lot 28.6%, 95% CI: 8.3, 48.9) was lower post-policy compared with pre-policy. Overall, resident support increased by 18.7%; however, the greatest increase in support occurred among current smokers (from 14.8 to 37.5%). Fewer current smokers reported that the policy would enable cessation at post-policy compared to pre-policy. Our findings demonstrate the feasibility of implementing smoke-free policies in PSH for formerly homeless adults. However, policy alone appears insufficient to trigger change in smoking behavior, highlighting the need for additional cessation resources to facilitate quitting.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s10900-017-0423-7

    View details for Web of Science ID 000426397200015

    View details for PubMedID 28884243

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5832576

  • Separating the Bruce and Trivers-Willard effects in theory and in human data AMERICAN JOURNAL OF HUMAN BIOLOGY Catalano, R., Gemmill, A., Casey, J., Karasek, D., Stewart, H., Saxton, K. 2018; 30 (2)

    Abstract

    Theories of reproductive suppression predict that natural selection would conserve mechanisms that abort the gestation of offspring otherwise unlikely to thrive in prevailing environments. Research reports evidence among humans of at least two such mechanisms-the Trivers-Willard and Bruce Effects. No literature, however, compares the mechanisms nor estimates their relative contribution to observed characteristics of human birth cohorts. We describe similarities and differences between the Trivers-Willard and Bruce Effects and explore high quality historical data from Sweden to determine which mechanism better describes temporal variation in the ratio of males to females in birth cohorts.We measure Trivers-Willard exposures with the death rate among women of reproductive age. We measure Bruce exposures with the death rate among children. We use time-series regression methods to estimate the relative contribution of the Trivers-Willard and Bruce Effects to temporal variation in historical Swedish secondary sex ratio data.We find that the Bruce Effect appears to be a better predictor of the secondary sex ratio than does the Trivers-Willard Effect.Attempts to identify mechanisms by which reproductive suppression affects fetal loss and characteristics of human birth cohorts should consider the Bruce Effect as an alternative to the Trivers-Willard Effect.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/ajhb.23074

    View details for Web of Science ID 000427233300002

    View details for PubMedID 29083077

  • Understanding periviable birth: A microeconomic alternative to the dysregulation narrative. Social science & medicine (1982) Catalano, R., Bruckner, T., Avalos, L. A., Stewart, H., Karasek, D., Kariv, S., Gemmill, A., Saxton, K., Casey, J. 2017

    Abstract

    Periviable infants (i.e., those born in the 20th through 26th weeks of gestation) suffer much morbidity and approximately half die in the first year of life. Attempts to explain and predict these births disproportionately invoke a "dysregulation" narrative. Research inspired by this narrative has not led to efficacious interventions. The clinical community has, therefore, urged novel approaches to the problem. We aim to provoke debate by offering the theory, inferred from microeconomics, that risk tolerant women carry, without cognitive involvement, high risk fetuses farther into pregnancy than do other women. These extended high-risk pregnancies historically ended in stillbirth but modern obstetric practices now convert a fraction to periviable births. We argue that this theory deserves testing because it suggests inexpensive and noninvasive screening for pregnancies that might benefit from the costly and invasive interventions clinical research will likely devise.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.12.014

    View details for PubMedID 29274689

  • Attitudes Toward Smoking Cessation Among Sheltered Homeless Parents Journal of community health Stewart, H. C., Stevenson, T. N., Bruce, J. S., Greenberg, B., Chamberlain, L. J. 2015: 1-9