(65/4722) Infant immunization coverage in Italy: estimates by simultaneous EPI cluster surveys of regions. ICONA Study Group.

In 1998, a series of regional cluster surveys (the ICONA Study) was conducted simultaneously in 19 out of the 20 regions in Italy to estimate the mandatory immunization coverage of children aged 12-24 months with oral poliovirus (OPV), diphtheria-tetanus (DT) and viral hepatitis B (HBV) vaccines, as well as optional immunization coverage with pertussis, measles and Haemophilus influenzae b (Hib) vaccines. The study children were born in 1996 and selected from birth registries using the Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI) cluster sampling technique. Interviews with parents were conducted to determine each child's immunization status and the reasons for any missed or delayed vaccinations. The study population comprised 4310 children aged 12-24 months. Coverage for both mandatory and optional vaccinations differed by region. The overall coverage for mandatory vaccines (OPV, DT and HBV) exceeded 94%, but only 79% had been vaccinated in accord with the recommended schedule (i.e. during the first year of life). Immunization coverage for pertussis increased from 40% (1993 survey) to 88%, but measles coverage (56%) remained inadequate for controlling the disease; Hib coverage was 20%. These results confirm that in Italy the coverage of only mandatory immunizations is satisfactory. Pertussis immunization coverage has improved dramatically since the introduction of acellular vaccines. A greater effort to educate parents and physicians is still needed to improve the coverage of optional vaccinations in all regions.  (+info)

(66/4722) Residential exposure to electromagnetic fields and childhood leukaemia: a meta-analysis.

Although individual epidemiological investigations have suggested associations between residential exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and childhood leukaemia, overall the findings have been inconclusive. Several of these studies do, however, lend themselves to application of the meta-analysis technique. For this purpose we carried out searches using MEDLINE and other sources, and 14 case-control studies and one cohort study were identified and evaluated for epidemiological quality and included in the meta-analysis. Relative risk estimates were extracted from each of the studies and pooled. Separate meta-analyses were performed on the basis of the assessed EMF exposure (wiring configuration codes, distance to power distribution equipment, spot and 24-h measures of magnetic field strength (magnetic flux density) and calculated magnetic field). The meta-analysis based on wiring configuration codes yielded a pooled relative risk estimate of 1.46 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.05-2.04, P = 0.024) and for that for exposure to 24-h measurements of magnetic fields, 1.59 (95% CI = 1.14-2.22, P = 0.006), indicating a potential effect of residential EMF exposure on childhood leukaemia. In most cases, lower risk estimates were obtained by pooling high-quality studies than pooling low-quality studies. There appears to be a clear trend for more recent studies to be of higher quality. Enough evidence exists to conclude that dismissing concerns about residential EMFs and childhood leukaemia is unwarranted. Additional high-quality epidemiological studies incorporating comparable measures for both exposure and outcomes are, however, needed to confirm these findings and, should they prove to be true, the case options for minimizing exposure should be thoroughly investigated to provide definitive answers for policy-makers.  (+info)

(67/4722) Life-style related factors and idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy--a case-control study using pooled controls.

A case-control study was conducted to investigate how basic habits of life including dietary habit, physical activity, cigarette smoking, and drinking, are involved in the development of idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Collection of cases was entrusted to the clinical research group of DCM, and national pooled controls established by sex and age category by the epidemiological research group of intractable diseases were used to ensure representativeness of the controls. Fifty-eight cases of DCM which developed in and after January 1991 were collected, and 5,912 controls matched with the cases by residential area, sex, and age were selected. Analysis of the results of the study showed that items in the questionnaire suggestive of viral infection, such as "susceptibility to common cold" and "susceptibility to diarrhea", items concerning dietary habit, including "taking no breakfast", "ingestion of salty food", and "ingestion of fatty food", and such items as "cigarette smoking" and "lack of sleep" tended to be observed in the case group at significantly higher frequencies. Since viral infection has been suspected as a causative factor of DCM, further research of this area is thought to be of particular importance for determining the etiology of DCM.  (+info)

(68/4722) An additional dimension to health inequalities: disease severity and socioeconomic position.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the association between the severity of hip pain and disability, and a number of measures of socioeconomic position, using a range of individual and ecological socioeconomic indicators. DESIGN: Interviewer administered and self completed questionnaires on symptoms of pain and disability, general health and socioeconomic indicators, completed by people reporting hip pain in a cross sectional, postal, screening questionnaire. SETTING: 40 general practices from inner city, suburban and rural areas of south west England. PARTICIPANTS: 954 study participants who had reported hip pain in a postal questionnaire survey of 26,046 people aged 35 and over, selected using an age/sex stratified random probability sample. DATA: Individual indicators of socioeconomic position: social class based on occupation, maximum educational attainment, car ownership, gross household income, manual or non-manual occupation and living alone. Area level measures of socioeconomic position: Townsend scores for material deprivation at enumeration district level; urban or rural location based on the postcode of residence. Severity of hip disease, measured by the pain, disability and independence components of the New Zealand score for major joint replacement. Self reported comorbidity validated using general practice case notes and summary measures of general health. MAIN RESULTS: Increasing disease severity was strongly associated with increasing age and a variety of measures of general health, including comorbidity. The data provide considerable evidence for the systematic association of increased severity of hip disease with decreasing socioeconomic position. Measures of socioeconomic position that were systematically associated with increasing disease severity, standardised for age and sex, included educational attainment (relative index of inequality 1.95 (95% confidence intervals 1.29 to 2.62) and income (relative index of inequality 4.03 (95% confidence intervals 3.43 to 4.64). Those with access to a car (mean disease severity 15.5) had statistically significant lower severity of hip disease than those without (mean 17.5, p < 0.01). Similar results were found for access to higher or further education and living with others. For a given level of income, people with greater comorbidity had more severe hip pain and disability. The gradient in disease severity between rich and poor was steepest among those with the most comorbidity. CONCLUSIONS: People with lower socioeconomic position experience a greater severity of hip disease. The poorest sector of the population seem to be in double jeopardy: they not only experience a greater burden of chronic morbidity but also a greater severity of hip disease. This study has implications for health care provision, if the National Health Service is to live up to its principle of equal treatment for equal medical need.  (+info)

(69/4722) Differences between infants and adults in the social aetiology of wheeze. The ALSPAC Study Team. Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood.

OBJECTIVES: To compare the relation between relative deprivation, its associated social risk factors and the prevalence of wheeze in infancy and in adulthood. DESIGN: A cross sectional population study. SETTING: The three District Health Authorities of Bristol. SUBJECTS: A random sample of 1954 women stratified by age and housing tenure to be representative of women with children < 1 in Great Britain and selected from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood (ALSPAC). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The prevalence of wheeze for infants at six months after birth and for their mothers and fathers at eight months postpartum. Potential mediators of the relation between relative deprivation and wheeze measured were overcrowded living conditions, number of other siblings in the household, damp or mouldy housing conditions, maternal and paternal smoking behaviour, and infant feeding practice. RESULTS: 63.4% (1239) of the sample lived in owner occupied/mortgaged accommodation (relatively affluent) and 36.6% (715) lived in council house/rented accommodation (relatively deprived). Wheeze was significantly more likely for infants living in council house/rented accommodation (chi 2 = 15.93, df = 1, p < 0.0001), their mothers (chi 2 = 9.28, df = 1, p < 0.001) and their fathers (chi 2 = 7.41, df = 1, p < 0.01). For those living in council house/rented accommodation backward stepwise logistic regression analyses showed that infants with other siblings in the household were significantly more likely to wheeze (OR = 1.83, 95% CI = 1.27, 2.65), as were infants whose mothers smoked (OR = 1.82, 95% CI = 1.30, 2.55) and those who were breast fed for less than three months (OR = 0.66, 95% CI = 0.44, 0.98). Mothers with a partner who smoked were significantly more likely to report wheeze (OR = 1.73, 95% CI = 1.05, 2.85). There was no independent association between the social factors included in the analysis and the likelihood of wheeze for fathers. CONCLUSIONS: This study identified differences in the social factors associated with a higher prevalence of wheeze in infancy and in adulthood; results suggested that this symptom was commonly linked to infection in infancy, but not in adulthood. While environmental tobacco smoke was associated with a higher prevalence of wheeze in infancy and in adulthood, this does not necessarily indicate a common underlying mechanism; possible explanations are discussed.  (+info)

(70/4722) Work-related mortality among older farmers in Canada.

OBJECTIVE: To describe the frequency and circumstances of work-related, fatal injuries among older farmers in Canada (1991 to 1995). DESIGN: Descriptive, epidemiologic analysis of data from the Canadian Agricultural Injury Surveillance Program. SETTING: Canada. PARTICIPANTS: Farmers aged 60 and older who died from work-related injuries from 1991 through 1995. METHOD: Age-adjusted mortality rates were calculated using the Canadian farm population as a standard for people involved, mechanism of injury, and place and time of injury. MAIN FINDINGS: The 183 work-related fatalities observed produced an overall mortality rate of 32.8 per 100,000 population per year. Higher fatality rates were observed in Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces. Almost all of those who died (98%) were men. Farm owner-operators accounted for 82.8% of the deaths (where the relationship of the person to the farm owner was reported). Leading mechanisms of fatal injury included tractor rollovers, being struck or crushed by objects, and being run over by machinery. Many older farmers appeared to be working alone at the time of injury. CONCLUSIONS: The data suggest that older farmers died while performing tasks common to general farm work, that most were owner-operators, and that many were working alone at the time of death. Innovative ways to reduce work-related injuries in this population must be found.  (+info)

(71/4722) The effect of poverty, social inequity, and maternal education on infant mortality in Nicaragua, 1988-1993.

OBJECTIVES: This study assessed the effect of poverty and social inequity on infant mortality risks in Nicaragua from 1988 to 1993 and the preventive role of maternal education. METHODS: A cohort analysis of infant survival, based on reproductive histories of a representative sample of 10,867 women aged 15 to 49 years in Leon, Nicaragua, was conducted. A total of 7073 infants were studied; 342 deaths occurred during 6394 infant-years of follow-up. Outcome measures were infant mortality rate (IMR) and relative mortality risks for different groups. RESULTS: IMR was 50 per 1000 live births. Poverty, expressed as unsatisfied basic needs (UBN) of the household, increased the risk of infant death (adjusted relative risk [RR] = 1.49; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.15, 1.92). Social inequity, expressed as the contrast between the household UBN and the predominant UBN of the neighborhood, further increased the risk (adjusted RR = 1.74; 95% CI = 1.12, 2.71). A protective effect of the mother's educational level was seen only in poor households. CONCLUSIONS: Apart from absolute level of poverty, social inequity may be an independent risk factor for infant mortality in a low-income country. In poor households, female education may contribute to preventing infant mortality.  (+info)

(72/4722) Job-based health insurance, 1977-1998: the accidental system under scrutiny.

This paper highlights changes in employer-based health insurance from 1977 to 1998, based on national household surveys conducted by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) in 1977, 1987, and 1996; and surveys of employers by the AHCPR in 1977, by the Health Insurance Association of America in 1988, and by KPMG Peat Marwick/Kaiser Family Foundation in 1998. During the study years, in 1998 dollars, the cost of job-based insurance increased 2.6-fold, and employees' contributions for coverage increased 3.5-fold. The percentage of nonelderly Americans covered by job-based insurance plummeted from 71 percent to 64 percent. This decline occurred exclusively among non-college-educated Americans. An information-based global economy is likely to produce not only greater future wealth but also greater inequalities in income and health benefits.  (+info)