Thursday, October 23, 2008


Some strange results in the study below but to people of Greenie faith it is all clear. The results below make no sense at all if you think pollution has anything to do with premature birth. Which suggests that pollution had nothing to do with it and we are looking at a random result. If pollution caused premature delivery, such deliveries should have been rarest after the pollution was all gone. Instead they find that such births were rarest in an intermediate state of pollution! The wonders of faith!

Preterm Birth After the Utah Valley Steel Mill Closure: A Natural Experiment

By Parker, Jennifer D. et al.


Background: Prior studies have linked the Utah Valley Steel Mill closure that took place between August 1986 and September 1987 to improvements in several health outcomes. So-called natural experiments ease concerns over confounding and exposure misclassification, concerns that are common in studies of air pollution and pregnancy outcome.

Methods: We compare birth outcomes for Utah mothers within and outside the Utah Valley, before, during, and after the mill closure.

Results: Mothers who were pregnant around the time of the closure of the mill were less likely to deliver prematurely than mothers who were pregnant before or after; effects were strongest for exposure during the second trimester. Preterm birth within the Utah Valley did not change during the time of mill closure. No patterns for birth weight were observed.

Conclusions: These results support other studies that have found effects on preterm birth of air pollution exposure early in pregnancy.

Epidemiology. 19(6):820-823, November 2008

Here we go again: "Tips to stay sane are based on hard evidence"

This article does not cite the research behind it but I am pretty certain it will all turn out to be epidemiological. Which makes the evidence very soft indeed. Mental ill health is caused by lack of social participation? Isn't it more likely that people who are mad to start with participate less well socially? Etc., etc.

The audience for Foresight's science futures work is usually government policymakers, but this project has advice for individuals too, including its "five-a-day" for mental wellbeing. They might sound like pure Pollyanna; but they are based on evidence in a paper commissioned by Foresight from the New Economics Foundation.

"Connect with the people around you" reflects compelling evidence of the importance of social interaction. Surveys show that the most significant difference between individuals with mental ill-health and those without it is social participation.

"Be active" is another recommendation with a compelling evidence base. For children, action is essential for thinking and learning. Studies of large groups of individuals born at the same time show that physical activity protects against cognitive decline and against depression and anxiety. Even bouts of exercise of less than ten minutes can make a difference.

"Take notice" is about being aware of sensations around you and of your own thoughts and feelings. Being in this state of "mindfulness" promotes mental wellbeing.

Being aware of what takes place in the present can help to reinstate life priorities, an important consideration for those who have been buffeted by ill-fortune. Think of it as a way of rebooting the mind through joy in the here and now.

"Keep learning" is also strongly backed by evidence. Statistical analysis of group studies shows that learning, almost without regard to subject, is the single greatest predictor of mental wellbeing. It impacts on one's self-esteem, resilience and sense of purpose.

"Give" is perhaps the most surprising of the five-a-day. In one experiment, committing an act of kindness each day for six weeks was associated with an increase in wellbeing.

Increasingly, the Government listens to Foresight. Its recommendations on obesity were included in policy within six months. It will be interesting to see whether Gordon Brown will do the same with this report.


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