Publications by authors named "Sebastian Vollmer"

95 Publications

Pregnancy anaemia, child health and development: a cohort study in rural India.

BMJ Open 2021 Nov 12;11(11):e046802. Epub 2021 Nov 12.

Department of Development Economics, Center for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen, Goettingen, Niedersachsen, Germany

Objective: To assess how pregnancy anaemia affects the offspring's early childhood development, child haemoglobin (Hb) levels child growth and diseases incidence 2 years after birth in a low-income setting. Furthermore, we investigate the mediating role of childhood Hb levels with disease incidences and skills.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Setting And Participants: The study participants are 941-999 mother-child dyads from rural Madhepura in Bihar, India. In 2015, the women were recruited during pregnancy from registers in mother-child centres of 140 villages for the first wave of data collection. At the time of the second wave in 2017, the children were 22-32 months old.

Primary And Secondary Outcome Measures: The recruited women were visited at home for a household survey and the measurement of the women's and child's Hb level, child weight and height. Data on the incidence of diarrhoea and respiratory diseases or fever were collected from interviews with the mothers. To test motor, cognitive, language and socioemotional skills of the children, we used an adapted version of the child development assessment FREDI.

Results: The average Hb during pregnancy was 10.2 g/dL and 69% of the women had pregnancy anaemia. At the age of 22-32 months, a 1 g/dL increase in Hb during pregnancy was associated with a 0.17 g/dL (95% CI: 0.11 to 0.23) increase in Hb levels of the child. Children of moderately or severely anaemic women during pregnancy showed 0.57 g/dL (95% CI: -0.78 to -0.36) lower Hb than children of non-anaemic women. We find no association between the maternal Hb during pregnancy and early skills, stunting, wasting, underweight or disease incidence. While childhood anaemia does not correlate with childhood diseases, we find an association of a 1 g/dl increase in the child's Hb with 0.04 SDs higher test scores.

Conclusions: While pregnancy anaemia is a risk factor for anaemia during childhood, we do not find evidence for an increased risk of infectious diseases or early childhood development delays.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-046802DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8593731PMC
November 2021

Maternal Iron-and-Folic-Acid Supplementation and its Association with Low-birthweight and Neonatal Mortality in India.

Public Health Nutr 2021 Nov 8:1-29. Epub 2021 Nov 8.

Department of Economics, University of Goettingen, Goettingen 37073, Germany.

Objective: This study assessed intake of iron-and-folic-acid (IFA) tablet/syrup (grouped into none, <100 days of IFA consumption or <100 IFA, and ≥100 days of IFA consumption or ≥100 IFA) among prospective mothers and its association with various stages of low-birthweight (ELBW: extremely low-birthweight, VLBW: very low-birthweight, and LBW: low-birthweight) and neonatal mortality (death during day 0-1, 2-6, 7-27, and 0-27) in India.

Design: The cross-sectional, nationally representative, 2015-2016 National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) data were used. Weighted descriptive analysis, and multiple binary logistic regression modelling were used.

Setting: NFHS-4 covered 640 districts from 37 states/ union territories of India.

Participants: A total of 120,374 and 143,675 index children aged 0-59 months were included to analyse LBW and neonatal mortality, respectively.

Results: Overall, 30.7% mothers consumed ≥100 IFA in 2015-2016, and this estimate ranged from 0.0% in Zunheboto district of Nagaland state to 89.5% in Mahe district of Puducherry of India. Multiple regression analysis revealed that children of mothers who consumed ≥100 IFA had lower odds of ELBW, VLBW, LBW, and neonatal mortality during day 0-1, as compared to mothers who did not buy/receive any IFA. Consumption of IFA (<100 IFA and ≥100 IFA) had protective association with neonatal death during day 7-27, and 0-27. Consumption of IFA was not associated with neonatal death during day 2-6.

Conclusions: While ≥100 IFA consumption during pregnancy was found to be associated with preventing select types of LBW and neonatal mortality, a large variation in coverage of ≥100 IFA consumption across 640 districts is concerning.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1368980021004572DOI Listing
November 2021

Unmet need for hypercholesterolemia care in 35 low- and middle-income countries: A cross-sectional study of nationally representative surveys.

PLoS Med 2021 Oct 25;18(10):e1003841. Epub 2021 Oct 25.

Department of Economics & Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Goettingen, Göttingen, Germany.

Background: As the prevalence of hypercholesterolemia is increasing in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), detailed evidence is urgently needed to guide the response of health systems to this epidemic. This study sought to quantify unmet need for hypercholesterolemia care among adults in 35 LMICs.

Methods And Findings: We pooled individual-level data from 129,040 respondents aged 15 years and older from 35 nationally representative surveys conducted between 2009 and 2018. Hypercholesterolemia care was quantified using cascade of care analyses in the pooled sample and by region, country income group, and country. Hypercholesterolemia was defined as (i) total cholesterol (TC) ≥240 mg/dL or self-reported lipid-lowering medication use and, alternatively, as (ii) low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) ≥160 mg/dL or self-reported lipid-lowering medication use. Stages of the care cascade for hypercholesterolemia were defined as follows: screened (prior to the survey), aware of diagnosis, treated (lifestyle advice and/or medication), and controlled (TC <200 mg/dL or LDL-C <130 mg/dL). We further estimated how age, sex, education, body mass index (BMI), current smoking, having diabetes, and having hypertension are associated with cascade progression using modified Poisson regression models with survey fixed effects. High TC prevalence was 7.1% (95% CI: 6.8% to 7.4%), and high LDL-C prevalence was 7.5% (95% CI: 7.1% to 7.9%). The cascade analysis showed that 43% (95% CI: 40% to 45%) of study participants with high TC and 47% (95% CI: 44% to 50%) with high LDL-C ever had their cholesterol measured prior to the survey. About 31% (95% CI: 29% to 33%) and 36% (95% CI: 33% to 38%) were aware of their diagnosis; 29% (95% CI: 28% to 31%) and 33% (95% CI: 31% to 36%) were treated; 7% (95% CI: 6% to 9%) and 19% (95% CI: 18% to 21%) were controlled. We found substantial heterogeneity in cascade performance across countries and higher performances in upper-middle-income countries and the Eastern Mediterranean, Europe, and Americas. Lipid screening was significantly associated with older age, female sex, higher education, higher BMI, comorbid diagnosis of diabetes, and comorbid diagnosis of hypertension. Awareness of diagnosis was significantly associated with older age, higher BMI, comorbid diagnosis of diabetes, and comorbid diagnosis of hypertension. Lastly, treatment of hypercholesterolemia was significantly associated with comorbid hypertension and diabetes, and control of lipid measures with comorbid diabetes. The main limitations of this study are a potential recall bias in self-reported information on received health services as well as diminished comparability due to varying survey years and varying lipid guideline application across country and clinical settings.

Conclusions: Cascade performance was poor across all stages, indicating large unmet need for hypercholesterolemia care in this sample of LMICs-calling for greater policy and research attention toward this cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor and highlighting opportunities for improved prevention of CVD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003841DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8575312PMC
October 2021

The 4MOTHERS trial of the impact of a mobile money-based intervention on maternal and neonatal health outcomes in Madagascar: study protocol of a cluster-randomized hybrid effectiveness-implementation trial.

Trials 2021 Oct 21;22(1):725. Epub 2021 Oct 21.

Heidelberg Institute of Global Health, Medical Faculty and University Hospital, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.

Background: Mobile money-a service enabling users to receive, store, and send electronic money using mobile phones-has been widely adopted across low- and middle-income economies to pay for a variety of services, including healthcare. However, evidence on its effects on healthcare access and health outcomes are scarce and the possible implications of using mobile money for financing and payment of maternal healthcare services-which generally require large one-time out-of-pocket payments-have not yet been systematically assessed in low-resource settings. The aim of this study is to determine the impact on health outcomes, cost-effectiveness, feasibility, acceptability, and usefulness of mobile phone-based savings and payment service, the Mobile Maternal Health Wallet (MMHW), for skilled healthcare during pregnancy and delivery among women in Madagascar.

Methods: This is a hybrid effectiveness-implementation type-1 trial, determining the effectiveness of the intervention while evaluating the context of its implementation in Madagascar's Analamanga region, containing the capital, Antananarivo. Using a stratified cluster randomized design, 61 public-sector primary-care health facilities were randomized within 6 strata to either receive the intervention or not (29 intervention vs. 32 control facilities). The strata were defined by a health facility's antenatal care visit volume and its capacity to offer facility-based deliveries. The registered pre-specified primary outcomes are (i) delivery at a health facility, (ii) antenatal care visits, and (iii) total healthcare expenditure during pregnancy, delivery, and neonatal period. The registered pre-specified secondary outcomes include additional health outcomes, economic outcomes, and measurements of user experience and satisfaction. Our estimated enrolment number is 4600 women, who completed their pregnancy between July 1, 2020, and December 31, 2021. A series of nested mixed-methods studies will elucidate client and provider perceptions on feasibility, acceptability, and usefulness of the intervention to inform future implementation efforts.

Discussion: A cluster-randomized, hybrid effectiveness-implementation design allows for a robust approach to determine whether the MMHW is a feasible and beneficial intervention in a resource-restricted public healthcare environment. We expect the results of our study to guide future initiatives and health policy decisions related to maternal and neonatal health and universal healthcare coverage through technology in Madagascar and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Trial Registration: This trial was registered on March 12, 2021: Deutsches Register Klinischer Studien (German Clinical Trials Register), identifier: DRKS00014928 . For World Health Organization Trial Registration Data Set see Additional file 1.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13063-021-05694-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8529568PMC
October 2021

Estimated effect of increased diagnosis, treatment, and control of diabetes and its associated cardiovascular risk factors among low-income and middle-income countries: a microsimulation model.

Lancet Glob Health 2021 Nov 22;9(11):e1539-e1552. Epub 2021 Sep 22.

Institute for Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK; Centre for Global Surgery, Department of Global Health, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa; Medical Research Council-Wits University Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Background: Given the increasing prevalence of diabetes in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs), we aimed to estimate the health and cost implications of achieving different targets for diagnosis, treatment, and control of diabetes and its associated cardiovascular risk factors among LMICs.

Methods: We constructed a microsimulation model to estimate disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) lost and health-care costs of diagnosis, treatment, and control of blood pressure, dyslipidaemia, and glycaemia among people with diabetes in LMICs. We used individual participant data-specifically from the subset of people who were defined as having any type of diabetes by WHO standards-from nationally representative, cross-sectional surveys (2006-18) spanning 15 world regions to estimate the baseline 10-year risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (defined as fatal and non-fatal myocardial infarction and stroke), heart failure (ejection fraction of <40%, with New York Heart Association class III or IV functional limitations), end-stage renal disease (defined as an estimated glomerular filtration rate <15 mL/min per 1·73 m or needing dialysis or transplant), retinopathy with severe vision loss (<20/200 visual acuity as measured by the Snellen chart), and neuropathy with pressure sensation loss (assessed by the Semmes-Weinstein 5·07/10 g monofilament exam). We then used data from meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials to estimate the reduction in risk and the WHO OneHealth tool to estimate costs in reaching either 60% or 80% of diagnosis, treatment initiation, and control targets for blood pressure, dyslipidaemia, and glycaemia recommended by WHO guidelines. Costs were updated to 2020 International Dollars, and both costs and DALYs were computed over a 10-year policy planning time horizon at a 3% annual discount rate.

Findings: We obtained data from 23 678 people with diabetes from 67 countries. The median estimated 10-year risk was 10·0% (IQR 4·0-18·0) for cardiovascular events, 7·8% (5·1-11·8) for neuropathy with pressure sensation loss, 7·2% (5·6-9·4) for end-stage renal disease, 6·0% (4·2-8·6) for retinopathy with severe vision loss, and 2·6% (1·2-5·3) for congestive heart failure. A target of 80% diagnosis, 80% treatment, and 80% control would be expected to reduce DALYs lost from diabetes complications from a median population-weighted loss to 1097 DALYs per 1000 population over 10 years (IQR 1051-1155), relative to a baseline of 1161 DALYs, primarily from reduced cardiovascular events (down from a median of 143 to 117 DALYs per 1000 population) due to blood pressure and statin treatment, with comparatively little effect from glycaemic control. The target of 80% diagnosis, 80% treatment, and 80% control would be expected to produce an overall incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of US$1362 per DALY averted (IQR 1304-1409), with the majority of decreased costs from reduced cardiovascular event management, counterbalanced by increased costs for blood pressure and statin treatment, producing an overall incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $1362 per DALY averted (IQR 1304-1409).

Interpretation: Reducing complications from diabetes in LMICs is likely to require a focus on scaling up blood pressure and statin medication treatment initiation and blood pressure medication titration rather than focusing on increasing screening to increase diabetes diagnosis, or a glycaemic treatment and control among people with diabetes.

Funding: None.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(21)00340-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8526364PMC
November 2021

Health-care seeking for childhood diseases by parental age in Western and Central Africa between 1995 and 2017: A descriptive analysis using DHS and MICS from 23 low- and middle-income countries.

J Glob Health 2021 10;11:13010. Epub 2021 Aug 10.

Department of Economics and Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.

Background: Globally, health care seeking for childhood diseases seems to be on the rise. However, progress is slow and still, many cases of infectious diseases in children remain untreated, leading to preventable child mortality. A better understanding of care seeking behaviour may help to further increase the probability that a sick child is taken to a health facility for care.

Methods: We investigated whether mother's and father's age at birth of the child is associated with health care seeking behaviour for childhood diseases and how this association changed over time. For this observational study, we used repeated cross-sectional data, namely all available Demographic and Health Surveys as well as Multi-Indicator Cluster Surveys from Western and Central Africa, 1995 to 2017. We analysed care seeking behaviour for diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections (ARI), and treatment of diarrhoea with oral rehydration solution (ORS). We estimated ordinary least squares regressions, controlling for socioeconomic characteristics of the household and adding survey year- and country-fixed effects. Estimated associations are presented for the entire region and for each country separately to highlight heterogeneity.

Results: Overall, the likelihood that care is sought for a child suffering from diarrhoea or ARI is low in Western and Central Africa. Probability of care seeking for diarrhoea ranges between 49% for mothers above 40 years and 53% for mothers between 25 and 29 years. For ARI, the rates are 60% and 62%, respectively. Treatment of diarrhoea with ORS is even lower, ranging between 23% and 26%. The probability that parents seek health care for their child does not seem to be associated with parents' age at birth. Mother's level of education and household's wealth status seem to be more important factors. There is evidence of the relationship between parents' age and care seeking changing over time, suggesting a stronger association in the past.

Conclusions: Parents' age at child birth does not seem to have a relevant association with care seeking for common childhood diseases. Identifying relevant factors may help in improving health care seeking behaviour of parents in low- and middle-income countries leading to reductions in child morbidity and mortality.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7189/jogh.11.13010DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8397328PMC
September 2021

The wealth gradient in diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections, and malaria in childhood over time: A descriptive analysis using DHS and MICS from Western and Central Africa between 1995 and 2017.

J Glob Health 2021 10;11:13009. Epub 2021 Aug 10.

UNICEF Area Representative for Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe and to the ECCAS, Libreville, Gabon.

Background: While the prevalence of childhood diseases and related mortality have been decreasing over the past decades, progress has been unequally distributed. The poorest households often carry the highest disease burden. As morbidity and mortality also decline most slowly among children of the poorest households, socioeconomic status may become a more relevant risk factor for childhood diseases.

Methods: We analysed the association between socioeconomic status and highly prevalent childhood diseases, specifically diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections (ARI), and malaria, and how this association changed over time. For this observational study, we used repeated cross-sectional data, namely all available Demographic and Health Surveys as well as Multi-Indicator Cluster Surveys from Western and Central Africa between 1995 and 2017. We estimated the predicted prevalence of each disease for the entire region in three time periods. We repeated the analysis separately for each country to highlight heterogeneity between countries.

Results: A notable wealth gradient can be seen in the prevalence rates of diarrhoea, ARI, and malaria in Western and Central Africa. Children in the poorest quartile have a much higher morbidity than children in the richest quartile and have experienced a considerably slower decline in prevalence rates. In the period 2010-2017, predicted prevalence of diarrhoea was 17.5% for children in the poorest quartile and 12.5% for children in the richest quartile. Similarly, the predicted prevalence was 11.1% and 8.6% for ARI, and 54.1% and 24.4% for malaria in endemic countries. The pattern does not differ between boys and girls. While exact prevalence rates vary between countries, only few countries have seen a decline in the wealth gradient for childhood diseases.

Conclusions: The increasing wealth gradient in health raises concerns of increasing inequality that goes beyond wealth. It suggests a need to further improve targeting of health programmes. Moreover, these programmes should be adapted to address the interlinked challenges which burden the poorest households.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7189/jogh.11.13009DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8397329PMC
September 2021

Prevalence of diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections, and malaria over time (1995-2017): A regional analysis of 23 countries in West and Central Africa.

J Glob Health 2021 10;11:13008. Epub 2021 Aug 10.

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), West and Central Africa Regional Office, Dakar, Senegal.

Backgound: The global community recognizes the urgent need to end preventable child deaths, making it an essential part of the third Sustainable Development Goal. Pneumonia, diarrhoea, and malaria still remain the leading causes of deaths among children under five years, especially in one of the poorest geographic regions of the world - West and Central Africa. This region carries a disproportionately high share of the global burden, both in terms of morbidity and mortality. The study aims to assess levels and trends of the prevalence of these three childhood diseases in West and Central Africa to better inform ongoing and future programmes to improve child survival.

Methods: Demographic and Health Surveys and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys available from 1995 to 2017 for 23 countries in West and Central Africa were analysed. We estimated the prevalence of diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections (ARI), malaria, and fever as a proxy for malaria, and split the data into three time periods to assess these trends in disease prevalence over time. Further analyses were done to assess the variations by geographic location (urban and rural) and gender (boys and girls).

Results: In West and Central Africa, the reduction of the prevalence rates of diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections, malaria, and fever has decelerated over time (1995-2009), and little improvements occurred between 2010 and 2017. The reduction within the region has been uneven and the prevalence rates either increased or stagnated for diarrhoea (nine countries), ARI (four countries), and fever (six countries). The proportion of affected children was high in emergency or fragile settings. Disaggregated analyses of population-based data show persistent gaps between the prevalence of diseases by geographic location and gender, albeit not significant for the latter.

Conclusions: Without intensified commitment to reducing the prevalence of pneumonia, malaria, and diarrhoea, many countries will not be able to meet the SDG goal to end preventable child deaths. Evidence-driven programmes that focus on improving equitable access to preventive health care information and services must be fostered, especially in complex emergency settings. This will be an opportunity to strengthen primary health care, including community health programmes, to achieve universal health coverage.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7189/jogh.11.13008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8397278PMC
September 2021

Socio-economic predictors of undernutrition and anaemia in adolescent mothers in West and Central Africa.

J Glob Health 2021 10;11:13007. Epub 2021 Aug 10.

UNICEF Area Representative for Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe and to the ECCAS, Libreville, Gabon.

Background: Adolescence is a formative period when an individual acquires physical, cognitive, emotional, and social resources that are the foundation for later life, health, and well-being [1]. However, in West and Central African region, this trajectory is curtailed by early childbearing associated with an increased risk of undernutrition and anemia. Evidence on socio-economic determinants of anemia and undernutrition in adolescent mothers is limited. This paper aims to shed some light on this issue and, more specifically, assess the socio-economic determinants of anemia among childbearing adolescents in the region.

Methods: For this observational study, we pooled data from all Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) conducted in countries in West and Central Africa region between 1986 and 2017. Outcomes were undernutrition and anemia in adolescent mothers. Predictors were education, wealth, place of residence (rural/urban), and religion. Descriptive statistics were calculated using survey weights for individual surveys and in the pooled sample each country was additionally weighted with its population share. We estimated multiple regression models with and without primary sampling unit fixed effects for both outcomes. All regressions were linear probability models.

Results: Having no formal education was the strongest predictor for both anemia and undernutrition. Belonging to the richest asset quintile was also associated with lower anemia and undernutrition prevalence in some specifications. While urban location of the mother was positively associated with anemia, there was no association with undernutrition.

Conclusions: Overall, having any formal education emerged as a sole strong predictor of reduced adolescent maternal undernutrition and anemia. Promotion of female education can potentially serve as a high-impact intervention to improve adolescent girls' health in the region. However, we cannot make conclusions about its causal impact based on this study alone.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7189/jogh.11.13007DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8397284PMC
September 2021

Levels and trends of adolescent girl's undernutrition and anemia in West and Central Africa from 1998 to 2017.

J Glob Health 2021 10;11:13006. Epub 2021 Aug 10.

UNICEF Area Representative for Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe and to the ECCAS, Libreville, Gabon.

Background: Adolescence is a highly vulnerable period of human life characterized by substantial physiological and cognitive changes for which adequate nutrition is crucial. To date, evidence on determinants, prevalence, and trends of undernutrition and anemia for the entire West and Central African region is missing. This paper provides evidence on trends and levels of adolescent anemia and undernutrition in West and Central Africa.

Methods: We pooled all Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) for West and Central African countries that were conducted between 1986 and 2017 to analyze levels and trends of adolescent anemia and undernutrition. We investigated the association of adolescent undernutrition and anemia within this region with World Bank income level classification of the country.

Results: Our findings suggest that the regional prevalence of adolescent anemia and undernutrition remained high at 45% and 19% respectively over the last 20 years. Anemia increased in about one third of countries and undernutrition in about two thirds over the studied period. On the aggregated level, these trends are largely masked and both levels remained stable in the entire region between the years 1998 and 2017. The results of the multivariable regression analysis indicate an association of adolescence with undernutrition and anemia, which was independent of socio-economic factors such as income, education, and place of residence.

Conclusion: We conclude that levels of adolescent undernutrition and anemia remain high with little progress over the last 20 years and that adolescence is a significant correlate of both anemia and undernutrition. Given the recognition of the international community that adolescent nutrition is an important public health concern in resource-poor settings, there is an urgent need to improve data availability, quality, and use for decision-making and to design successful high-impact interventions to combat adolescent malnutrition in low- and middle-income countries.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7189/jogh.11.13006DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8397282PMC
September 2021

Correlates of HIV seropositivity in young West and Central African women: A pooled analysis of 17 Demographic and Health Surveys.

J Glob Health 2021 10;11:13005. Epub 2021 Aug 10.

UNICEF Area Representative for Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe and to the ECCAS, Libreville, Gabon.

Background: Young women in West and Central Africa have been described by the United Nations as being especially vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. Despite a consensus that increased efforts are necessary to address the needs of this particular demographic, correlates of HIV seropositivity in young West and Central African women have not been systematically described. This study fills this gap using a rich set of publicly available survey data.

Methods: For this cross-sectional study, we combined HIV test results for young women (age 15-24 years) with information on demographic, cultural and socioeconomic correlates from 17 recent Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) to estimate odds ratios (OR) from fixed effects logistic regression models accounting for potential individual, household-level and contextual risk factors of HIV seropositivity.

Results: The prevalence of HIV seropositivity among young women is higher than for men of the same age in all included surveys, except for the Burkina Faso DHS. An important correlate of HIV seropositivity in young women is early sexual activity (OR = 1.510; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.100, 2.072), while higher education is associated with reduced odds of being HIV positive (OR = 0.215; 95% CI = 0.057, 0.820). No significant correlation has been found for individual HIV awareness, but HIV stigma is negatively associated with HIV seropositivity (OR = 0.495; 95% CI = 0.247, 0.990, in the fully adjusted model).

Conclusions: The results demonstrate the need to design effective policies addressing behavioral risks in young women. In particular, increasing HIV awareness alone is likely to be insufficient. Instead, information campaigns need to focus on transforming awareness into behavioral change. Moreover, fostering formal education may be an effective tool in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7189/jogh.11.13005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8397279PMC
September 2021

Long-term consequences of early marriage and maternity in West and Central Africa: Wealth, education, and fertility.

J Glob Health 2021 10;11:13004. Epub 2021 Aug 10.

Department of Economics and Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.

Objective: Early marriage and childbearing have substantial detrimental effects on both, the affected girls and women at the micro level, as well as entire economies on the macro level. West and Central African countries have some of the highest prevalence rates of early marriage and maternity worldwide. This work attempts to quantify the long-term economic, societal, and fertility effects of marriage and pregnancy in early and late adolescence in West and Central Africa.

Methods: We used pooled cross-sectional data collected between 1986 and 2017 in 21 West and Central African countries within the DHS and MICS programs to estimate the associations of marriage and maternity during early (10-14) and late (15-19) adolescence retrospectively on wealth accumulation, educational attainment, as well as the woman's lifetime fertility.

Results: Descriptively, women who married or gave birth as young or very young adolescents are overrepresented among the poorest and least educated quintiles of the adult population and underrepresented among the richest and most educated. These gradients were confirmed within a regression analysis which additionally controlled for current age of the woman and PSU fixed effects. Marrying in early/late adolescence was associated with a 12%/6% higher likelihood of being in the poorest wealth quintile in later life and 29%/20% increased likelihood of not completing primary education, as compared to women who married as adults. Maternity in early/late adolescence was associated with a 7%/4% higher likelihood of belonging to the poorest quintile and 17%/10% higher likelihood of being uneducated. Moreover, women who married/gave birth during early or late adolescence, on average, have 2.2/2.3 or 1.4/1.5 more children than those who have married/become mothers as adults.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the dire consequences of early marriage and maternity hit youngest girls the hardest - both immediately and long-term. Hence, it is not only worthwhile to prevent adolescent marriage and pregnancy in general, but also specifically target very young girls below age 15 to attempt to at least delay such far-reaching demographic life events.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7189/jogh.11.13004DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8397277PMC
September 2021

Does early childbearing affect utilization of antenatal care services and infant birth weight: Evidence from West and Central African Region.

J Glob Health 2021 10;11:13003. Epub 2021 Aug 10.

Department of Economics and Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.

Background: Adequate antenatal care (ANC) utilization is recognized as one of the important drivers of safe childbirth and positive birth outcomes. The usage of ANC services fluctuates with various personal, socio-economic, and cultural characteristics and in resource-poor settings, adolescent mothers are at a particularly high risk of insufficient ANC utilization.

Objectives: This paper investigates whether the usage of ANC services and institutional delivery as well as newborn birth weight differ systematically between adolescent and adult mothers in West and Central Africa. Moreover, we explore to what extent differences in birth weight are explained by ANC usage, adolescence, and select socio-economic characteristics of the mother.

Methods: We pooled cross-sectional data from all Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and Multi Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) conducted in countries in West and Central Africa region between 1986 and 2017 to estimate measures of ANC usage and qualified delivery assistance (along with a combined measure of "adequate maternal healthcare" aggregating these two factors) and newborn birth weight by maternal age group. We estimated various regression models to analyze a) the association between adolescence and adequate prenatal and maternal health care controlling for select socio-economic maternal characteristics as well as the local environment and b) between adolescence, adequate maternal health care, and newborn birth weight outcomes, also controlling for maternal characteristics and the local environment. All regressions were linear probability models for binary outcomes and simple linear models for continuous outcomes.

Results: Adequate maternal health care provision was lowest among adolescent mothers: 23.0% among adolescents vs an average of 29.2% across all other age groups. Moreover, we found maternal education and wealth to be positively and significantly associated with receiving adequate maternal health care. Adolescent mothers had the highest risk of low infantile birth weight with 14.5% (95% confidence interval (CI) = 13.6%-15.5%), which is roughly 1.5-2 times higher than in older mothers. We found that adolescence is still strongly associated with low birth weight even when adequate maternal health care and various socio-economic factors as well as the local environment are controlled for.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that ANC supply in resource-poor settings should be particularly tailored to adolescent mothers' needs and that further research is necessary to explore what individual maternal characteristics beyond socio-economic and physical (eg, BMI) factors drive the prevalence of low birth weight. Moreover, the currently used measures of maternal care quality are heavily dependent on pure quantitative measures (number of ANC visits). New indicators incorporating measures of factual quality and scope ought to be developed and incorporated into large routine household surveys such as DHS and MICS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7189/jogh.11.13003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8397281PMC
September 2021

Socio-economic predictors of adolescent marriage and maternity in West and Central Africa between 1986 and 2017.

J Glob Health 2021 10;11:13002. Epub 2021 Aug 10.

Department of Economics and Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Goettingen, Göttingen, Germany.

Background: Early marriage and maternity prevalence rates among adolescent girls remain alarmingly high in West and Central Africa (WCA). This study aims to explore the associations between socio-economic factors and the prevalence of early marriage and maternity, thus contributing to the identification of girls at risk of early pregnancy or marriage.

Methods: We pooled data from national representative surveys (1986 - 2017) for 23 countries in WCA to examine associations between wealth, educational attainment, religious affiliation, and place of residence with adolescent marriage and maternity. We decomposed the wealth and education gradients for individual countries, while controlling for common characteristics of the local environment via the use of primary sampling unit fixed-effects. The pooled sample provides information on 262 721 girls (age 15-19 years). Survey weights and population share weights were used in the estimations.

Results: The prevalence of adolescent maternity and marriage exhibited a wealth and education gradient. Prevalence of marriage in the poorest wealth quintile was 41.1% (95% confidence interval (CI) = 38.8%-43.5%) and 10.5% (95% CI = 9.5%-11.6%) in the richest. For maternity it was 38.3% (95% CI = 36.4%-40.3%) in the poorest quintile and 12.7% (95% CI = 11.5%-13.9%) in the richest. Marriage/maternity is three/two times more likely to occur among girls with incomplete primary or no formal education than in those with at least primary. Maternity and marriage among adolescents exhibit a geographical pattern and differences between religious groups. Adolescent marriage prevalence was 34.4% (95% CI = 32.9%-35.8%) in rural areas compared to 13.3% (95% CI = 12.3%-14.2%) in urban areas. Adolescent maternity prevalence was 32.8% (95% CI = 31.7%-33.9%) in rural compared to 16.3% (95% CI = 15.3%-17.3%) in urban areas. Finally, the prevalence of adolescent marriage was substantially higher among Muslims compared to all other religious groups.

Conclusions: Our results highlight the disparities in the prevalence of adolescent marriage and maternity and confirm the existence of wealth and education gradients. These findings can help to improve targeting of vulnerable adolescents and to identify areas for policy implementation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7189/jogh.11.13002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8397280PMC
September 2021

Levels and trends of adolescent marriage and maternity in West and Central Africa, 1986-2017.

J Glob Health 2021 10;11:13001. Epub 2021 Aug 10.

Department of Economics and Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Goettingen, Germany.

Background: The world has made considerable progress in the reduction of adolescent maternity and early marriage. However, this progress has been uneven, with many countries finding themselves far from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in this dimension. We assessed levels and trends over time in adolescent marriage and maternity prevalence within the West and Central African region as well as their correlation with select macro-level indicators for income and social institutions.

Methods: We estimated country-specific prevalence rates using survey data (pooled cross-sectional) conducted between 1986 and 2017. The pooled sample provides information on 262 721 adolescent girls between the ages of 15 and 19. We assessed the relative country-level trends by comparing prevalence rates from the first and latest available survey in each country. We further analyzed regional trends by country income group (low- and middle-income) and examined the association of prevalence rates with measurements of gender discrimination and social institutions at the country-level. Estimations were conducted using survey weights and country-specific weights for population shares in the pooled sample.

Results: Prevalence of adolescent maternity declined from 30.1 percent (95% confidence interval (CI) = 29.6%-32.2%) in the 1990s, to 28.7 percent (95% CI = 27.9%-29.6%) in the 2000s and 26.2 percent (95% CI = 25.4%-27.1%) in the 2010s. Adolescent marriage rates decreased from 37.3 percent (95% CI = 35.5%-39.1%) in the 1990s to 27.5 percent (95% CI = 26.5%-28.6%) in the 2000s, and to 24.9 percent (95% CI = 24.1%-25.7%) in the 2010s. Between 1986 and 2017, adolescent marriage decreased in all countries except for the Central African Republic (with a rise from 39% to 55%) and Niger (56% to 61%). The prevalence of adolescent maternity decreased in all but three countries: Congo, Dem. Rep. (25% to 37%), Niger (36% to 40%), and the Central African Republic (36% to 49%). When grouped by income level, the prevalence was 8 percentage points higher in low-income countries than in middle-income countries in both outcomes. We did not establish any statisticly significant association between adolescent marriage and maternity with country-level measures of discrimination against women. However, we found evidence of an association between specific legal measures of protection against early marriage and lower prevalence rates for both early marriage and maternity.

Conclusions: Despite considerable progress in the reduction of adolescent maternity and marriage over the last 30 years, current levels of both indicators remain overall high in the WCA region, with high heterogeneity across individual countries. Countries with higher income level and higher standard in legal protection of young girls perform consistently better on both indicators. The prevalence rates of adolescent marriage and maternity reversed over the course of three decades, so that nowadays adolescent maternity rates exceed adolescent marriage rates in most countries. Further research is needed to understand the weak or non-existent association between adolescent marriage and maternity with gender discrimination and social institutions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7189/jogh.11.13001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8397283PMC
September 2021

The association between mechanical ventilator compatible bed occupancy and mortality risk in intensive care patients with COVID-19: a national retrospective cohort study.

BMC Med 2021 08 30;19(1):213. Epub 2021 Aug 30.

Department of Statistics, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK.

Background: The literature paints a complex picture of the association between mortality risk and ICU strain. In this study, we sought to determine if there is an association between mortality risk in intensive care units (ICU) and occupancy of beds compatible with mechanical ventilation, as a proxy for strain.

Methods: A national retrospective observational cohort study of 89 English hospital trusts (i.e. groups of hospitals functioning as single operational units). Seven thousand one hundred thirty-three adults admitted to an ICU in England between 2 April and 1 December, 2020 (inclusive), with presumed or confirmed COVID-19, for whom data was submitted to the national surveillance programme and met study inclusion criteria. A Bayesian hierarchical approach was used to model the association between hospital trust level (mechanical ventilation compatible), bed occupancy, and in-hospital all-cause mortality. Results were adjusted for unit characteristics (pre-pandemic size), individual patient-level demographic characteristics (age, sex, ethnicity, deprivation index, time-to-ICU admission), and recorded chronic comorbidities (obesity, diabetes, respiratory disease, liver disease, heart disease, hypertension, immunosuppression, neurological disease, renal disease).

Results: One hundred thirty-five thousand six hundred patient days were observed, with a mortality rate of 19.4 per 1000 patient days. Adjusting for patient-level factors, mortality was higher for admissions during periods of high occupancy (> 85% occupancy versus the baseline of 45 to 85%) [OR 1.23 (95% posterior credible interval (PCI): 1.08 to 1.39)]. In contrast, mortality was decreased for admissions during periods of low occupancy (< 45% relative to the baseline) [OR 0.83 (95% PCI 0.75 to 0.94)].

Conclusion: Increasing occupancy of beds compatible with mechanical ventilation, a proxy for operational strain, is associated with a higher mortality risk for individuals admitted to ICU. Further research is required to establish if this is a causal relationship or whether it reflects strain on other operational factors such as staff. If causal, the result highlights the importance of strategies to keep ICU occupancy low to mitigate the impact of this type of resource saturation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12916-021-02096-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8404408PMC
August 2021

Assessment of Undernutrition Among Children in 55 Low- and Middle-Income Countries Using Dietary and Anthropometric Measures.

JAMA Netw Open 2021 Aug 2;4(8):e2120627. Epub 2021 Aug 2.

Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Importance: Evidence on the suitability of anthropometric failure (ie, stunting, underweight, and wasting) as a stand-alone measure of child undernutrition can inform global and national nutrition and health agendas.

Objective: To provide a comprehensive estimate of the prevalence of child undernutrition by evaluating both dietary and anthropometric measures simultaneously across 55 low- and middle-income countries.

Design, Setting, And Participants: This was a cross-sectional study that used Demographic and Health Surveys program data from July 2009 to January 2019, to allocate children into dietary and anthropometric failure categories. Nationally representative household surveys were conducted in 55 low- and middle-income countries. Participants included children aged 6 to 23 months who were born singleton and had valid anthropometric measures as well as available 24-hour food intake recollection. Data analysis was conducted from August 23 to October 22, 2020.

Exposures: Two factors were considered to allocate children into the respective categories. Dietary failure was based on the World Health Organization standards for minimum dietary diversity. Anthropometric failure was constructed using the World Health Organization child growth reference standard z score for stunted growth, muscle wasting, and less than average weight for age.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Dietary and anthropometric failures were cross-tabulated, which yielded 4 potential outcomes: dietary failure only, anthropometric failure only, both failures, and neither failure. Total child populations for each category were extrapolated from United Nations population estimates.

Results: Of the 162 589 children (median age [range], 14 months [6-23 months]; 83 467 boys [51.3%]; 78 894 Asian children [48.5%]) in our sample, 42.9% of children had dietary failure according to the standard World Health Organization definition without being identified as having anthropometric failures. In all, 34.7% had both failures, 42.9% had dietary failure only, 8.3% had anthropometric failure only, and 14.1% had neither failure. Dietary and anthropometric measures were discordant for 51.2% of children; these children had nutritional needs identified by only 1 of the 2 measures. Dietary failure doubled the proportion of children in need of dietary interventions compared with anthropometry alone (43%). A total of 45.3 million additional children who experienced undernutrition in these 55 countries were not captured through the evaluation of anthropometric failures only. These results were consistent across geographic regions.

Conclusions And Relevance: The results of this cross-sectional study suggest that the current standard of measuring child undernutrition by estimating the prevalence of anthropometric failure should be complemented with dietary and food-based measures. Anthropometry alone may fail to identify many children who have insufficient dietary intake.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.20627DOI Listing
August 2021

A national retrospective study of the association between serious operational problems and COVID-19 specific intensive care mortality risk.

PLoS One 2021 29;16(7):e0255377. Epub 2021 Jul 29.

The Alan Turing Institute, London, United Kingdom.

Objectives: To describe the relationship between reported serious operational problems (SOPs), and mortality for patients with COVID-19 admitted to intensive care units (ICUs).

Design: English national retrospective cohort study.

Setting: 89 English hospital trusts (i.e. small groups of hospitals functioning as single operational units).

Patients: All adults with COVID-19 admitted to ICU between 2nd April and 1st December, 2020 (n = 6,737).

Interventions: N/A.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Hospital trusts routinely submit declarations of whether they have experienced 'serious operational problems' in the last 24 hours (e.g. due to staffing issues, adverse weather conditions, etc.). Bayesian hierarchical models were used to estimate the association between in-hospital mortality (binary outcome) and: 1) an indicator for whether a SOP occurred on the date of a patient's admission, and; 2) the proportion of the days in a patient's stay that had a SOP occur within their trust. These models were adjusted for individual demographic characteristics (age, sex, ethnicity), and recorded comorbidities.

Results: Serious operational problems (SOPs) were common; reported in 47 trusts (52.8%) and were present for 2,701 (of 21,716; 12.4%) trust days. Overall mortality was 37.7% (2,539 deaths). Admission during a period of SOPs was associated with a substantially increased mortality; adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.34 (95% posterior credible interval (PCI): 1.07 to 1.68). Mortality was also associated with the proportion of a patient's admission duration that had concurrent SOPs; OR 1.47 (95% PCI: 1.10 to 1.96) for mortality where SOPs were present for 100% compared to 0% of the stay.

Conclusion And Relevance: Serious operational problems at the trust-level are associated with a significant increase in mortality in patients with COVID-19 admitted to critical care. The link isn't necessarily causal, but this observation justifies further research to determine if a binary indicator might be a valid prognostic marker for deteriorating quality of care.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0255377PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8321157PMC
August 2021

The effect of bearing and rearing a child on blood pressure: a nationally representative instrumental variable analysis of 444 611 mothers in India.

Int J Epidemiol 2021 11;50(5):1671-1683

Heidelberg Institute of Global Health (HIGH), Faculty of Medicine and University Hospital, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany.

Background: At the individual level, it is well known that pregnancies have a short-term effect on a woman's cardiovascular system and blood pressure. The long-term effect of having children on maternal blood pressure, however, is unknown. We thus estimated the causal effect of having children on blood pressure among mothers in India, a country with a history of high fertility rates.

Methods: We used nationally representative cross-sectional data from the 2015-16 India National Family and Health Survey (NFHS-4). The study population comprised 444 611 mothers aged 15-49 years. We used the sex of the first-born child as an instrumental variable (IV) for the total number of a woman's children. We estimated the effect of an additional child on systolic and diastolic blood pressure in IV (two-stage least squares) regressions. In additional analyses, we stratified the IV regressions by time since a mother last gave birth. Furthermore, we repeated our analyses using mothers' husbands and partners as the regression sample.

Results: On average, mothers had 2.7 children [standard deviation (SD): 1.5], a systolic blood pressure of 116.4 mmHg (SD: 14.4) and diastolic blood pressure of 78.5 mmHg (SD: 9.4). One in seven mothers was hypertensive. In conventional ordinary least squares regression, each child was associated with 0.42 mmHg lower systolic [95% confidence interval (CI): -0.46 to -0.39, P < 0.001] and 0.13 mmHg lower diastolic (95% CI: -0.15 to -0.11, P < 0.001) blood pressure. In the IV regressions, each child decreased a mother's systolic blood pressure by an average of 1.00 mmHg (95% CI: -1.26 to -0.74, P < 0.001) and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 0.35 mmHg (95% CI: -0.52 to -0.17, P < 0.001). These decreases were sustained over more than a decade after childbirth, with effect sizes slightly declining as the time since last birth increased. Having children did not influence blood pressure in men.

Conclusions: Bearing and rearing a child decreases blood pressure among mothers in India.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyab058DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8580275PMC
November 2021

The effect of eligibility for antiretroviral therapy on body mass index and blood pressure in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Sci Rep 2021 07 19;11(1):14718. Epub 2021 Jul 19.

Department of Economics, University of Goettingen, Göttingen, Germany.

We use a regression discontinuity design to estimate the causal effect of antiretroviral therapy (ART) eligibility according to national treatment guidelines of South Africa on two risk factors for cardiovascular disease, body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure. We combine survey data collected in 2010 in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, with clinical data on ART. We find that early ART eligibility significantly reduces systolic and diastolic blood pressure. We do not find any significant effects on BMI. The effect on blood pressure can be detected up to three years after becoming eligible for ART.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-94057-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8289961PMC
July 2021

Body-mass index and diabetes risk in 57 low-income and middle-income countries: a cross-sectional study of nationally representative, individual-level data in 685 616 adults.

Lancet 2021 07;398(10296):238-248

Non-Communicable Diseases Research Center, Endocrinology and Metabolism Population Sciences Institute, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

Background: The prevalence of overweight, obesity, and diabetes is rising rapidly in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs), but there are scant empirical data on the association between body-mass index (BMI) and diabetes in these settings.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we pooled individual-level data from nationally representative surveys across 57 LMICs. We identified all countries in which a WHO Stepwise Approach to Surveillance (STEPS) survey had been done during a year in which the country fell into an eligible World Bank income group category. For LMICs that did not have a STEPS survey, did not have valid contact information, or declined our request for data, we did a systematic search for survey datasets. Eligible surveys were done during or after 2008; had individual-level data; were done in a low-income, lower-middle-income, or upper-middle-income country; were nationally representative; had a response rate of 50% or higher; contained a diabetes biomarker (either a blood glucose measurement or glycated haemoglobin [HbA]); and contained data on height and weight. Diabetes was defined biologically as a fasting plasma glucose concentration of 7·0 mmol/L (126·0 mg/dL) or higher; a random plasma glucose concentration of 11·1 mmol/L (200·0 mg/dL) or higher; or a HbA of 6·5% (48·0 mmol/mol) or higher, or by self-reported use of diabetes medication. We included individuals aged 25 years or older with complete data on diabetes status, BMI (defined as normal [18·5-22·9 kg/m], upper-normal [23·0-24·9 kg/m], overweight [25·0-29·9 kg/m], or obese [≥30·0 kg/m]), sex, and age. Countries were categorised into six geographical regions: Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and central Asia, east, south, and southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and north Africa, and Oceania. We estimated the association between BMI and diabetes risk by multivariable Poisson regression and receiver operating curve analyses, stratified by sex and geographical region.

Findings: Our pooled dataset from 58 nationally representative surveys in 57 LMICs included 685 616 individuals. The overall prevalence of overweight was 27·2% (95% CI 26·6-27·8), of obesity was 21·0% (19·6-22·5), and of diabetes was 9·3% (8·4-10·2). In the pooled analysis, a higher risk of diabetes was observed at a BMI of 23 kg/m or higher, with a 43% greater risk of diabetes for men and a 41% greater risk for women compared with a BMI of 18·5-22·9 kg/m. Diabetes risk also increased steeply in individuals aged 35-44 years and in men aged 25-34 years in sub-Saharan Africa. In the stratified analyses, there was considerable regional variability in this association. Optimal BMI thresholds for diabetes screening ranged from 23·8 kg/m among men in east, south, and southeast Asia to 28·3 kg/m among women in the Middle East and north Africa and in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Interpretation: The association between BMI and diabetes risk in LMICs is subject to substantial regional variability. Diabetes risk is greater at lower BMI thresholds and at younger ages than reflected in currently used BMI cutoffs for assessing diabetes risk. These findings offer an important insight to inform context-specific diabetes screening guidelines.

Funding: Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health McLennan Fund: Dean's Challenge Grant Program.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00844-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8336025PMC
July 2021

Trends in 28-Day Mortality of Critical Care Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 in the United Kingdom: A National Cohort Study, March 2020 to January 2021.

Crit Care Med 2021 11;49(11):1895-1900

British Library, The Alan Turing Institute, London, United Kingdom.

Objectives: To determine whether the previously described trend of improving mortality in people with coronavirus disease 2019 in critical care during the first wave was maintained, plateaued, or reversed during the second wave in United Kingdom, when B117 became the dominant strain.

Design: National retrospective cohort study.

Setting: All English hospital trusts (i.e., groups of hospitals functioning as single operational units), reporting critical care admissions (high dependency unit and ICU) to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Hospitalization in England Surveillance System.

Patients: A total of 49,862 (34,336 high dependency unit and 15,526 ICU) patients admitted between March 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021 (inclusive).

Interventions: Not applicable.

Measurements And Main Results: The primary outcome was inhospital 28-day mortality by calendar month of admission, from March 2020 to January 2021. Unadjusted mortality was estimated, and Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate adjusted mortality, controlling for age, sex, ethnicity, major comorbidities, social deprivation, geographic location, and operational strain (using bed occupancy as a proxy). Mortality fell to trough levels in June 2020 (ICU: 22.5% [95% CI, 18.2-27.4], high dependency unit: 8.0% [95% CI, 6.4-9.6]) but then subsequently increased up to January 2021: (ICU: 30.6% [95% CI, 29.0-32.2] and high dependency unit, 16.2% [95% CI, 15.3-17.1]). Comparing patients admitted during June-September 2020 with those admitted during December 2020-January 2021, the adjusted mortality was 59% (CI range, 39-82) higher in high dependency unit and 88% (CI range, 62-118) higher in ICU for the later period. This increased mortality was seen in all subgroups including those under 65.

Conclusions: There was a marked deterioration in outcomes for patients admitted to critical care at the peak of the second wave of coronavirus disease 2019 in United Kingdom (December 2020-January 2021), compared with the post-first-wave period (June 2020-September 2020). The deterioration was independent of recorded patient characteristics and occupancy levels. Further research is required to determine to what extent this deterioration reflects the impact of the B117 variant of concern.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/CCM.0000000000005184DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8507592PMC
November 2021

Targeting Hypertension Screening in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of 1.2 Million Adults in 56 Countries.

J Am Heart Assoc 2021 07 2;10(13):e021063. Epub 2021 Jul 2.

Heidelberg Institute of Global Health Medical Faculty and University Hospital University of Heidelberg Germany.

Background As screening programs in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) often do not have the resources to screen the entire population, there is frequently a need to target such efforts to easily identifiable priority groups. This study aimed to determine (1) how hypertension prevalence in LMICs varies by age, sex, body mass index, and smoking status, and (2) the ability of different combinations of these variables to accurately predict hypertension. Methods and Results We analyzed individual-level, nationally representative data from 1 170 629 participants in 56 LMICs, of whom 220 636 (18.8%) had hypertension. Hypertension was defined as systolic blood pressure ≥140 mm Hg, diastolic blood pressure ≥90 mm Hg, or reporting to be taking blood pressure-lowering medication. The shape of the positive association of hypertension with age and body mass index varied across world regions. We used logistic regression and random forest models to compute the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve in each country for different combinations of age, body mass index, sex, and smoking status. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for the model with all 4 predictors ranged from 0.64 to 0.85 between countries, with a country-level mean of 0.76 across LMICs globally. The mean absolute increase in the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve from the model including only age to the model including all 4 predictors was 0.05. Conclusions Adding body mass index, sex, and smoking status to age led to only a minor increase in the ability to distinguish between adults with and without hypertension compared with using age alone. Hypertension screening programs in LMICs could use age as the primary variable to target their efforts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.121.021063DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8403275PMC
July 2021

Developing a reporting guideline for artificial intelligence-centred diagnostic test accuracy studies: the STARD-AI protocol.

BMJ Open 2021 06 28;11(6):e047709. Epub 2021 Jun 28.

Division of Health Policy and Management, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Introduction: Standards for Reporting of Diagnostic Accuracy Study (STARD) was developed to improve the completeness and transparency of reporting in studies investigating diagnostic test accuracy. However, its current form, STARD 2015 does not address the issues and challenges raised by artificial intelligence (AI)-centred interventions. As such, we propose an AI-specific version of the STARD checklist (STARD-AI), which focuses on the reporting of AI diagnostic test accuracy studies. This paper describes the methods that will be used to develop STARD-AI.

Methods And Analysis: The development of the STARD-AI checklist can be distilled into six stages. (1) A project organisation phase has been undertaken, during which a Project Team and a Steering Committee were established; (2) An item generation process has been completed following a literature review, a patient and public involvement and engagement exercise and an online scoping survey of international experts; (3) A three-round modified Delphi consensus methodology is underway, which will culminate in a teleconference consensus meeting of experts; (4) Thereafter, the Project Team will draft the initial STARD-AI checklist and the accompanying documents; (5) A piloting phase among expert users will be undertaken to identify items which are either unclear or missing. This process, consisting of surveys and semistructured interviews, will contribute towards the explanation and elaboration document and (6) On finalisation of the manuscripts, the group's efforts turn towards an organised dissemination and implementation strategy to maximise end-user adoption.

Ethics And Dissemination: Ethical approval has been granted by the Joint Research Compliance Office at Imperial College London (reference number: 19IC5679). A dissemination strategy will be aimed towards five groups of stakeholders: (1) academia, (2) policy, (3) guidelines and regulation, (4) industry and (5) public and non-specific stakeholders. We anticipate that dissemination will take place in Q3 of 2021.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-047709DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8240576PMC
June 2021

The impact of improved data quality on the prevalence estimates of anthropometric measures using DHS datasets in India.

Sci Rep 2021 05 21;11(1):10671. Epub 2021 May 21.

Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.

The importance of data quality to correctly determine prevalence estimates of child anthropometric failures has been a contentious issue among policymakers and researchers. Our research objective was to ascertain the impact of improved DHS data quality on the prevalence estimates of stunting, wasting, and underweight. The study also looks for the drivers of data quality. Using five data quality indicators based on age, sex, anthropometric measurements, and normality distribution, we arrive at two datasets of differential data quality and their estimates of anthropometric failures. For this purpose, we use the 2005-2006 and 2015-2016 NFHS data covering 311,182 observations from India. The prevalence estimates of stunting and underweight were virtually unchanged after the application of quality checks. The estimate of wasting had fallen 2 percentage points, indicating an overestimation of the true prevalence. However, this differential impact on the estimate of wasting was driven by the flagging procedure's sensitivity and was in accordance with empirical evidence from existing literature. We found DHS data quality to be of sufficiently high quality for the prevalence estimates of stunting and underweight, to not change significantly after further improving the data quality. The differential estimate of wasting is attributable to the sensitivity of the flagging procedure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-89319-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8140149PMC
May 2021

The Impact of Immediate Initiation of Antiretroviral Therapy on Patients' Healthcare Expenditures: A Stepped-Wedge Randomized Trial in Eswatini.

AIDS Behav 2021 Oct 8;25(10):3194-3205. Epub 2021 Apr 8.

Heidelberg Institute of Global Health, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.

Immediate initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for all people living with HIV has important health benefits but implications for the economic aspects of patients' lives are still largely unknown. This stepped-wedge cluster-randomized controlled trial aimed to determine the causal impact of immediate ART initiation on patients' healthcare expenditures in Eswatini. Fourteen healthcare facilities were randomly assigned to transition at one of seven time points from the standard of care (ART eligibility below a CD4 count threshold) to the immediate ART for all intervention (EAAA). 2261 patients living with HIV were interviewed over the study period to capture their past-year out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures. In mixed-effects regression models, we found a 49% decrease (RR 0.51, 95% CI 0.36, 0.72, p < 0.001) in past-year total healthcare expenditures in the EAAA group compared to the standard of care, and a 98% (RR 0.02, 95% CI 0.00, 0.02, p < 0.001) decrease in spending on private and traditional healthcare. Despite a higher frequency of HIV care visits for newly initiated ART patients, immediate ART initiation appears to have lowered patients' healthcare expenditures because they sought less care from alternative healthcare providers. This study adds an important economic argument to the World Health Organization's recommendation to abolish CD4-count-based eligibility thresholds for ART.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10461-021-03241-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8416844PMC
October 2021

Cardiovascular disease risk profile and management practices in 45 low-income and middle-income countries: A cross-sectional study of nationally representative individual-level survey data.

PLoS Med 2021 03 4;18(3):e1003485. Epub 2021 Mar 4.

Institute of Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Background: Global cardiovascular disease (CVD) burden is high and rising, especially in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). Focussing on 45 LMICs, we aimed to determine (1) the adult population's median 10-year predicted CVD risk, including its variation within countries by socio-demographic characteristics, and (2) the prevalence of self-reported blood pressure (BP) medication use among those with and without an indication for such medication as per World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

Methods And Findings: We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of nationally representative household surveys from 45 LMICs carried out between 2005 and 2017, with 32 surveys being WHO Stepwise Approach to Surveillance (STEPS) surveys. Country-specific median 10-year CVD risk was calculated using the 2019 WHO CVD Risk Chart Working Group non-laboratory-based equations. BP medication indications were based on the WHO Package of Essential Noncommunicable Disease Interventions guidelines. Regression models examined associations between CVD risk, BP medication use, and socio-demographic characteristics. Our complete case analysis included 600,484 adults from 45 countries. Median 10-year CVD risk (interquartile range [IQR]) for males and females was 2.7% (2.3%-4.2%) and 1.6% (1.3%-2.1%), respectively, with estimates indicating the lowest risk in sub-Saharan Africa and highest in Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. Higher educational attainment and current employment were associated with lower CVD risk in most countries. Of those indicated for BP medication, the median (IQR) percentage taking medication was 24.2% (15.4%-37.2%) for males and 41.6% (23.9%-53.8%) for females. Conversely, a median (IQR) 47.1% (36.1%-58.6%) of all people taking a BP medication were not indicated for such based on CVD risk status. There was no association between BP medication use and socio-demographic characteristics in most of the 45 study countries. Study limitations include variation in country survey methods, most notably the sample age range and year of data collection, insufficient data to use the laboratory-based CVD risk equations, and an inability to determine past history of a CVD diagnosis.

Conclusions: This study found underuse of guideline-indicated BP medication in people with elevated CVD risk and overuse by people with lower CVD risk. Country-specific targeted policies are needed to help improve the identification and management of those at highest CVD risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003485DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7932723PMC
March 2021

The disproportionate excess mortality risk of COVID-19 in younger people with diabetes warrants vaccination prioritisation.

Diabetologia 2021 05 16;64(5):1184-1186. Epub 2021 Feb 16.

Institute of Biomedical & Clinical Science, University of Exeter Medical School, Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, Exeter, UK.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00125-021-05404-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7885981PMC
May 2021

Variation in the Proportion of Adults in Need of Blood Pressure-Lowering Medications by Hypertension Care Guideline in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Cross-Sectional Study of 1 037 215 Individuals From 50 Nationally Representative Surveys.

Circulation 2021 03 8;143(10):991-1001. Epub 2021 Feb 8.

Division of Primary Care and Population Health, Department of Medicine, Stanford University, CA (P.G.).

Background: Current hypertension guidelines vary substantially in their definition of who should be offered blood pressure-lowering medications. Understanding the effect of guideline choice on the proportion of adults who require treatment is crucial for planning and scaling up hypertension care in low- and middle-income countries.

Methods: We extracted cross-sectional data on age, sex, blood pressure, hypertension treatment and diagnosis status, smoking, and body mass index for adults 30 to 70 years of age from nationally representative surveys in 50 low- and middle-income countries (N = 1 037 215). We aimed to determine the effect of hypertension guideline choice on the proportion of adults in need of blood pressure-lowering medications. We considered 4 hypertension guidelines: the 2017 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guideline, the commonly used 140/90 mm Hg threshold, the 2016 World Health Organization HEARTS guideline, and the 2019 UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guideline.

Results: The proportion of adults in need of blood pressure-lowering medications was highest under the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association, followed by the 140/90 mm Hg, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, and World Health Organization guidelines (American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association: women, 27.7% [95% CI, 27.2-28.2], men, 35.0% [95% CI, 34.4-35.7]; 140/90 mm Hg: women, 26.1% [95% CI, 25.5-26.6], men, 31.2% [95% CI, 30.6-31.9]; National Institute for Health and Care Excellence: women, 11.8% [95% CI, 11.4-12.1], men, 15.7% [95% CI, 15.3-16.2]; World Health Organization: women, 9.2% [95% CI, 8.9-9.5], men, 11.0% [95% CI, 10.6-11.4]). Individuals who were unaware that they have hypertension were the primary contributor to differences in the proportion needing treatment under different guideline criteria. Differences in the proportion needing blood pressure-lowering medications were largest in the oldest (65-69 years) age group (American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association: women, 60.2% [95% CI, 58.8-61.6], men, 70.1% [95% CI, 68.8-71.3]; World Health Organization: women, 20.1% [95% CI, 18.8-21.3], men, 24.1.0% [95% CI, 22.3-25.9]). For both women and men and across all guidelines, countries in the European and Eastern Mediterranean regions had the highest proportion of adults in need of blood pressure-lowering medicines, whereas the South and Central Americas had the lowest.

Conclusions: There was substantial variation in the proportion of adults in need of blood pressure-lowering medications depending on which hypertension guideline was used. Given the great implications of this choice for health system capacity, policy makers will need to carefully consider which guideline they should adopt when scaling up hypertension care in their country.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.120.051620DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7940589PMC
March 2021

The Double Burden of Malnutrition in Bangalore, India.

World Rev Nutr Diet 2020 6;121:138-148. Epub 2020 Oct 6.

CeMIS, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.

The double burden of malnutrition (DBM), i.e., coexistence of under- and overnutrition, is an emerging issue in most of the low- and middle-income countries of the world. Using field survey data conducted in and around the city of Bangalore, India in 2018, we examine the patterns of DBM among women, young children (0-6 years), older children (7-18 years), and intrahousehold DBM between mothers and children. A unique aspect of the survey is that it is conducted in an area undergoing rapid urbanization, which is one of the factors responsible for DBM and can inform on the future of DBM in India. Compared to undernutrition, the prevalence of overnutrition is much higher in our study area. We find that, like other developing countries, the socioeconomic distance in prevalence of under- and overnutrition among women has decreased over time. Additionally, overnutrition among women is no longer an urban phenomenon. Similar trends were observed for older children. For younger children, on the other hand, the socioeconomic and locational differences persist, suggesting that this age group is not witnessing nutrition transition yet. The intrahousehold burden of DBM has also increased over time and the risk increases with maternal education. Although under- and overnutrition are opposite in nature, both have several common drivers, suggesting that an integrated approach might work better in tackling DBM. Several existing programs in India, such as ICDS, PDS, and the school meal program, provide excellent infrastructure to roll out policies and interventions, especially diet-based programs, aimed at both under- and overnutrition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000507521DOI Listing
October 2021
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