The LWb blood group as a marker of prehistoric Baltic migrations and admixture.
Archaeological findings and historical records indicate frequent migrations and exchange of genetic material between populations in the Baltic Sea area. However, there have so far been very few attempts to trace migrations in this area using genetic markers. We have studied the Baltic populations with respect to exceptional variations in the frequencies of the Landsteiner-Wiener (LW) blood group. The frequency of the uncommon LWb gene was high in the Balts, around 6% among Latvians and Lithuanians, very low among the other western Europeans (0-0.1%) and apparently absent in Asiatic and African populations. From the Baltic region of peak frequency there was a regular decline of LWb incidence (a descending cline) in the neighboring populations: 4.0% in the Estonians, 2.9% in the Finns, 2. 2% in the Vologda Russians, and 2.0% in the Poles. Thus the distribution of LWb suggests considerable and extensive Baltic admixture, especially in the north and northeast direction. In Southern Sweden with an LWb frequency of 0.3%, the Baltic influence appeared slight, while in the population of the Swedish island Gotland in the middle of the Baltic Sea there was a significantly increased LWb frequency of 1.0% compared with that of Western European countries. The distinction of codominantly inherited LW antigenic forms, LWa and LWb (previously Nea), is known to be due to a single base substitution. Based on our population data, it is plausible that the expansion of this point mutation occurred only once during human history. Furthermore, our data indicate that the expansion of the LWb mutation occurred in Balts and that LWb can be considered a 'Baltic tribal marker', its presence in other populations being an indicator of the degree of Baltic genetic influence. (+info)
Patterns of smoking in the Baltic Republics.
BACKGROUND: Tobacco is a leading cause of avoidable death in the Baltic Republics but there is, as yet, relatively little information in the public domain on who is smoking and how this is changing. This information is important for those seeking to develop effective policies to tackle this issue. OBJECTIVE: To determine the pattern of smoking in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. METHODS: Analysis of data on patterns of tobacco consumption from representative surveys of approximately 3000 adults aged under 65 in each country undertaken in 1997. RESULTS: The prevalence of smoking among men is 53.9%, 56.0%, and 53.2% respectively in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The corresponding figures for women are 24.1%, 10.9%, and 7.6%. For both sexes, current smoking rates are consistently lowest in the age group 50 to 64 and highest in the age group 35 to 49. Education and income are determinants of smoking rates among men but much less so among women. Russian men are more likely to smoke than are men from the majority group in each country. Smoking rates among women are much lower in rural than in urban areas of Latvia and Lithuania but this is not so in Estonia. CONCLUSIONS: Smoking rates among men in the Baltic Republics are already very high. Among women, they still vary considerably. Each country has implemented some measures to reduce smoking. These seem to have been especially effective in Lithuania but, overall, much more action is needed. (+info)
Ambient air pollution and respiratory health in the east Baltic region.
Air pollutants of primary concern to human health in the east Baltic region include particulate matter and sulfur dioxide. Exposure to elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide and ozone is also widespread. Coal-fired power and heavy industrial plants not fitted with efficient air treatment equipment constitute major sources of air pollution. Domestic heating with coal causes high local levels in some areas. The rapid growth of motor vehicle traffic results in increased emissions, predominantly in densely populated areas. Several epidemiologic studies performed in the east Baltic region, mainly in Poland, have documented an association between air pollution exposure and adverse health effects, primarily in the respiratory tract. Short-term exposure to ambient air pollution has been related to an increase in mortality and hospital admissions for illnesses of the respiratory tract. The associations were mainly seen for particulates or sulfur dioxide, and thus they confirmed the findings from other parts of Europe and the United States. (+info)
Environmental radioactivity, population exposure and related health risks in the east Baltic region.
The paper considers radioactive contamination of the east Baltic region, population exposures, and the risk of damage to human health. Principal sources include global fallout, the Chernobyl accident, and marine transport of radionuclides. A mean annual exposure of 2-3 mSv comes from environmental radioactivity. Main contributors are primarily radon and its decay products. The Chernobyl accident brought an additional dose of about 0.5 mSv in southern Finland and 1.4 mSv in the most contaminated districts of the Leningrad region, Russia. Both external and internal exposure via contaminated food contributed. Currently, significant long-term radiological consequences of the Chernobyl accident include persistent radioactive contamination of natural terrestrial (forest) and freshwater (oligotrophic lakes) ecosystems and food products. Radiation health risks are lung cancer among the general population from indoor exposure to radon, acute radiation syndrome from occupational exposure, thyroid cancer among children in heavily contaminated non-Baltic areas, and mutations among offspring of exposed parents. (+info)
Environmental pollution and human exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the east Baltic region.
Environmental contamination by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and human exposure were surveyed in the east Baltic region. Polluted and heavily industrialized areas are upper Silesia in Poland, northern Bohemia in the Czech Republic, and the northeast part of Estonia. In Estonia the pollution is in a defined geographic area, where lung cancer incidence is higher than elsewhere. In Silesia, exposure of some 5 million people appears to be elevated; DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) adduct levels in white blood cells are increased in groups of residents with apparently only environmental exposure. By extrapolation, some 150 annual lung cancer cases could be predicted due to PAH in Silesia. Air levels of benzo[a]pyrene were increased in northern Bohemia, and domestic heating and power plants using brown coal appeared to be major contributors to particulate air pollution in winter. Further studies are needed to assess health risks of PAH exposure in central and eastern Europe. (+info)
Environmental health in the Baltic region--toxic metals.
Recent reports on concentrations of lead, cadmium, methylmercury, arsenic and nickel in some biological media in populations in the Baltic region are reviewed. In particular, children in parts of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Germany have uptakes of lead sufficient to cause adverse effects on the central nervous system and kidneys. Cadmium exposure is also high in Poland. Slight cadmium-induced effects on the kidneys have been reported from Germany and Sweden. Methylmercury uptake is dependent upon the intake of fish, in particular from contaminated lakes and rivers in Sweden and Finland, as well as the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. There are some indications of immunotoxic effects associated with the intake of such fish. However, fish also contain other immunomodulating agents. Exposure to arsenic seems to be low everywhere in the Baltic region. There is high nickel exposure in northern Russia. (+info)
Environmental health in the east Baltic region--pesticides and persistent organic compounds.
Exposure to, and the potential effects of, pesticides and persistent organic pollutants in the East Baltic region are reviewed. Exposure of the average population to chlorinated compounds seems lower than in most of western Europe, and current pesticide use is very low. However, due to infrastructure failures and poor management controls, industrial hot spots and inadequate storage sites exist that cause high risks to small population fractions. The low exposure of the general population is indicated by low concentrations of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, dibenzofurans and biphenyls in milk fat. Chlorophenol concentrations are also generally lower than in Scandinavia. Some organic pesticides have been found at higher concentrations in Baltic countries and the St. Petersburg area than in Norway, but the range is roughly similar to that in central Europe. Thus the overall risk caused by pesticide residues and persistent organic compounds in the Baltic countries and northwestern Russia is low, but local sites of concern exist. (+info)
Immune response to diphtheria booster vaccine in the Baltic states.
A study was done to measure baseline levels of immunity to diphtheria and antibody responses to different doses of diphtheria vaccine in study participants in the three Baltic states. Diphtheria booster vaccines containing either 3 (Estonia and Lithuania), 6 (Latvia), or 12 (Latvia) limit of flocculation units of diphtheria toxoid were administered to 2315 adults. Diphtheria antibody levels were tested before and 1-2 months after vaccination. Before vaccination, 40% of the participants in Estonia, 32% in Lithuania, and 38% in Latvia had antibody levels <0.01 IU/mL, the level for minimum protection. After vaccination, 79% of the participants in Estonia, 83% in Lithuania, and 81% in Latvia had antibody levels >0. 1 IU/mL, the minimum level for full protection. However, in each of the countries, about one-third of the 40- to 49-year-old participants would have benefited from additional doses of vaccine. There was not a significantly different antibody response among persons receiving the three different doses. Age and the level of prevaccination immunity had a modifying effect on the response to vaccination; however, sex did not. (+info)