June research news highlights

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Selected highlights of journal papers and other research published in June 2018 using data from CLOSER’s eight longitudinal and cohort studies.

 

Parents need more support to ease their worries over children’s fussy eating

Research using the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parent and Children (ALSPAC) has been used to investigate factors that are associated with a mother being worried about her child’s fussy eating habits. From birth to 15 months old, children’s eating behaviours and practices were captured, as were parents’ perceptions of their children’s choosiness and whether this worried them. Just over half of the children (56%) were considered choosy, and of these, 27 per cent had mothers who were “a bit worried” about them, and 5 per cent who were “greatly” worried. Led by Dr Pauline Emmett, of the University of Bristol, the study found that mothers were more likely to be worried if their child was first born, difficult to feed, or refused solids by six months old. The researchers suggested parents should be given more support and advice when their child starts needing more nutrition than breast milk or formula can provide. Read more.

Muscle strength and function decreases faster than muscle mass in later life

A new paper, published in Calcified Tissue International, has used the Hertfordshire Cohort Study to examine changes in bone structure, and muscle mass, strength and function in later life. The study looked at measures of the radius and tibia bones, as well as the grip strength and walking speed of 188 men and 166 women. These measures were recorded in 2004-05, and again in 2011-12, when participants were age 68-69. The researchers, led by A. Patel, of the University of Southampton, found that muscle strength and function decline faster than muscle mass. The research also provided further evidence that changes in bone structure with age differ by sex. Read more.

Participating in ‘citizenship process’ does not appear to enhance immigrants’ subjective wellbeing

A new study using Understanding Society data to explore life satisfaction and the UK citizenship process has been published in International Migration. The project, led by Dr David Bartram, of the University of Leicester, used information from waves 1 and 6 of the study to look at immigrants’ citizenship status and their life satisfaction rating. In the mid-2000s the UK introduced a new system in which immigrants are required to pass a ‘Life in the UK’ test and attend a citizenship welcome ceremony. It was thought this policy would improve immigrants’ integration into UK society and enhance their lives. However, findings from this study suggest taking part in the UK citizenship process is not linked to an individual’s life satisfaction. Read more.

No strong link found between child’s educational ability and pregnant mothers’ exposure to total mercury

Researchers led by Dr Joseph Hibbeln, of the National Institute of Health, USA, have used data from ALSPAC to explore whether there is an association between exposure to total mercury when mothers are pregnant and their children’s educational abilities. The study looked at the level of mercury in mothers’ blood during pregnancy as well as their children’s cognitive test scores in reading, spelling, science and maths between the ages 7 and 13. They found no evidence of harm linked with the level of total mercury when the mother ate fish during pregnancy. The study team concluded that women should be confident that eating fish during pregnancy is beneficial for their unborn child. This research paper was published in Environment International. Read more.

 No strong evidence to suggest weight gain is associated with spine shape

A new study has used data from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development to examine associations between being overweight and spine shape. The study team, led by Anastasia V Pavlova, of the University of Aberdeen, looked at participants’ body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference at age 36, as well as X-rays of their spine at age 60-64. Their findings suggest there is no clear evidence that gains in BMI and waist circumference during early adulthood are associated with spine shape. However, earlier onset of overweight could be linked to having a more uneven spine. The research was published in PLOS One. Read more.

 Having a stressful job is linked to developing mental disorders at 50

Research using the National Child Development Study (NCDS) has investigated the relationship between work-related stress at age 45 and the risk of future mental disorders at age 50. The study, published in the Lancet Psychiatry, was carried out by an international group of researchers based in the UK, Australia, USA and Norway. The study found that those who reported having more stress at work at age 45 were more likely to show symptoms of common mental disorders at 50.  These findings suggest that reducing work-related stress may be an important target to lower the frequency of common mental disorders. Read more.

Higher risk of depression for young adults diagnosed with cancer

A new study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research has analysed whether young patients diagnosed with cancer are at greater risk of depression. The paper, by researchers based at University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Romania, used data from the 1970 British Cohort Study at ages 16, 26 and 30.  The researchers found that the risk of depression is higher for people with onset of cancer before 30. The study did not identify additional risk of depression according to socioeconomic status for patients with cancer. The researchers hope that these findings will raise awareness of the importance of active screening and treatment of depression for young patients with cancer. Read more.

Boys more likely to become interested in scientific careers at age 14

Research using the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) has investigated how children’s aspirations towards science-related careers differ between ages 11 and 14. The study, published in Research in Science Education, was carried out by the UCL Institute of Education. The research found that 8.6 per cent of the children had science-related career aspirations at both age 11 and 14, and 63.5 per cent consistently expressed non-scientific career aspirations. 15.7 per cent of children changed from expressing other (non-science) aspirations at age 11 to express science-related aspirations at age 14; and the remaining 12.2 per cent changed from expressing science-related aspirations at age 11 to other aspirations. Children who changed towards science-related aspirations were more likely to be boys, children from white backgrounds, those with more enthusiasm for school, and those with more self-esteem. Read more.