Archive | November, 2018

American Geophysical Union study: Warmer winter temperatures linked to increased crime

18 Nov

Ohio State Researchers wrote about the impact of climate on crime in How does climate affect violence? Researchers offer new theory:

Researchers have long struggled to explain why some violent crime rates are higher near the equator than other parts of the world. Now, a team of researchers have developed a model that could help explain why.
This new model goes beyond the simple fact that hotter temperatures seem to be linked to more aggressive behavior.
The researchers believe that hot climates and less variation in seasonal temperatures leads to a faster life strategy, less focus on the future, and less self-control – all of which contribute to more aggression and violence….
Paul van Lange, lead author of the study and a professor of psychology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) added, “We believe our model can help explain the impact of climate on rates of violence in different parts of the world….”

The CLASH model states that it is not just hotter temperatures that lead to more violence – it is also climates that have less seasonal variation in temperature.
“Less variation in temperature, combined with heat, brings some measure of consistency to daily life”, Rinderu said.
That means there is less need to plan for large swings between warm and cold weather. The result is a faster life strategy that isn’t as concerned about the future and leads to less need for self-control.
“Strong seasonal variation in temperature affects culture in powerful ways. Planning in agriculture, hoarding, or simply preparing for cold winters shapes the culture in many ways, often with people not even noticing it. But it does shape how much a culture values time and self-control,” Van Lange said.
“If there is less variation, you’re freer to do what you want now, because you’re not preparing foods or chopping firewood or making winter clothes to get you through the winter. You also may be more concerned with the immediate stress that comes along with parasites and other risks of hot climates, such as venomous animals.”
People living in these climates are oriented to the present rather than the future and have a fast life strategy – they do things now.
“We see evidence of a faster life strategy in hotter climates with less temperature variation – they are less strict about time, they have less use of birth control, they have children earlier and more often,” Bushman said.
With a faster life strategy and an orientation toward the present, people have to practice less self-control, he said. That can lead people to react more quickly with aggression and sometimes violence.
The theory is not deterministic and isn’t meant to suggest that people in hotter, consistent climates can’t help themselves when it comes to violence and aggression…. https://news.osu.edu/how-does-climate-affect-violence-researchers-offer-new-theory/

The American Geophysical Union studied the link between temperature and crime.

Science Daily reported in Warmer winter temperatures linked to increased crime:

Milder winter weather increased regional crime rates in the United States over the past several decades, according to new research that suggests crime is related to temperature’s effect on daily activities.
A new study published in GeoHealth, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, finds U.S. crime rates are linked to warmer temperatures, and this relationship follows a seasonal pattern.
The findings support the theory that three major ingredients come together to bring about crime: a motivated offender, a suitable target, and the absence of a guardian to prevent a violation of the law. During certain seasons, namely winter, milder weather conditions increase the likelihood these three elements come together, and that violent and property crimes will take place, according to the new study. Unexpectedly, warmer summer temperatures were not linked with higher crime rates.
The new research abates existing theories that hot temperatures drive aggressive motivation and behavior, according to the study’s authors. Instead, the new research suggests crime is related to the way climate alters people’s daily activities.
“We were expecting to find a more consistent relationship between temperature and crime, but we weren’t really expecting that relationship to be changing over the course of the year,” said Ryan Harp, lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. “That ended up being a pretty big revelation for us.”
Understanding how climate affects crime rates could expand the boundaries of what scientists would consider to be a climate and health connection, Harp said.
“Ultimately, it’s a health impact,” he said. “The relationship between climate, human interaction, and crime that we’ve unveiled is something that will have an impact on people’s wellbeing.”
Regional climate affects human interaction
Previous studies have found a link between temperature and the incidence of crime, but none have looked at the relationship on a regional level and only some have controlled for underlying seasonal changes, allowing researchers to identify the potential underlying mechanism…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181113110411.htm

Citation:

Warmer winter temperatures linked to increased crime
Date: November 13, 2018
Source: American Geophysical Union
Summary:
Milder winter weather increased regional crime rates in the United States over the past several decades, according to new research that suggests crime is related to temperature’s effect on daily activities.
Journal Reference:
Ryan D. Harp, Kristopher B. Karnauskas. The Influence of Interannual Climate Variability on Regional Violent Crime Rates in the United States. GeoHealth, 2018; DOI: 10.1029/2018GH000152

Here is the press release from the American Geophysical Union:

WARMER WINTER TEMPERATURES LINKED TO INCREASED CRIME, STUDY FINDS
13 November 2018
WASHINGTON — Milder winter weather increased regional crime rates in the United States over the past several decades, according to new research that suggests crime is related to temperature’s effect on daily activities.
A new study published in GeoHealth, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, finds U.S. crime rates are linked to warmer temperatures, and this relationship follows a seasonal pattern.
The findings support the theory that three major ingredients come together to bring about crime: a motivated offender, a suitable target, and the absence of a guardian to prevent a violation of the law. During certain seasons, namely winter, milder weather conditions increase the likelihood these three elements come together, and that violent and property crimes will take place, according to the new study. Unexpectedly, warmer summer temperatures were not linked with higher crime rates.
The new research abates existing theories that hot temperatures drive aggressive motivation and behavior, according to the study’s authors. Instead, the new research suggests crime is related to the way climate alters people’s daily activities.
“We were expecting to find a more consistent relationship between temperature and crime, but we weren’t really expecting that relationship to be changing over the course of the year,” said Ryan Harp, lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. “That ended up being a pretty big revelation for us.”
Understanding how climate affects crime rates could expand the boundaries of what scientists would consider to be a climate and health connection, Harp said.
“Ultimately, it’s a health impact,” he said. “The relationship between climate, human interaction, and crime that we’ve unveiled is something that will have an impact on people’s wellbeing.”
Regional climate affects human interaction
Previous studies have found a link between temperature and the incidence of crime, but none have looked at the relationship on a regional level and only some have controlled for underlying seasonal changes, allowing researchers to identify the potential underlying mechanism.
In the new study, Harp and his co-author conducted a systematic investigation into the relationship between large-scale climate variability and regionally-aggregated crime rates, using a technique that allowed them to group together detailed spatial data on seasonal temperature and crime rates from across the United States.
They compared crime and climate data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR). The data encompassed 16,000 cities across five defined US regions—Northeast, Southeast, South Central, West, and Midwest—from 1979 to 2016.
Their finding that violent crime is almost always more prevalent when temperatures are warmer in the winter months was especially notable in areas with the strongest winters, like the Midwest and Northeast, according to the researchers.
The new findings showing that increasing temperatures matter more in the winter than in the summer is interesting, said Marshall Burke, assistant professor of Earth System Science at Stanford University, who was not involved with the new study.
“The authors rightly suggest that this is more consistent with warmer temperatures altering people’s patterns of activity, like going outside more, than a physiological story about temperature and aggression,” he said.
The American Geophysical Union is dedicated to advancing the Earth and space sciences for the benefit of humanity through its scholarly publications, conferences, and outreach programs. AGU is a not-for-profit, professional, scientific organization representing 60,000 members in 137 countries. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and our other social media channels.

There are various theories regarding why individuals commit crimes.

Steven Briggs wrote in Important Theories in Criminology: Why People Commit Crime:
Here is a broad overview of some key theories:

• Rational choice theory: People generally act in their self-interest and make decisions to commit crime after weighing the potential risks (including getting caught and punished) against the rewards.
• Social disorganization theory: A person’s physical and social environments are primarily responsible for the behavioral choices that person makes. In particular, a neighborhood that has fraying social structures is more likely to have high crime rates. Such a neighborhood may have poor schools, vacant and vandalized buildings, high unemployment, and a mix of commercial and residential property.
• Strain theory: Most people have similar aspirations, but they don’t all have the same opportunities or abilities. When people fail to achieve society’s expectations through approved means such as hard work and delayed gratification, they may attempt to achieve success through crime.
• Social learning theory: People develop motivation to commit crime and the skills to commit crime through the people they associate with.
• Social control theory: Most people would commit crime if not for the controls that society places on individuals through institutions such as schools, workplaces, churches, and families.
• Labeling theory: People in power decide what acts are crimes, and the act of labeling someone a criminal is what makes him a criminal. Once a person is labeled a criminal, society takes away his opportunities, which may ultimately lead to more criminal behavior.
• Biology, genetics, and evolution: Poor diet, mental illness, bad brain chemistry, and even evolutionary rewards for aggressive criminal conduct have been proposed as explanations for crime. https://www.dummies.com/education/psychology/important-theories-in-criminology-why-people-commit-crime/
One crime reduction strategy is predictive policing.
The National Institute of Justice described predictive policing:
Overview of Predictive Policing
Law enforcement work is frequently reactive: Officers respond to calls for service, quell disturbances and make arrests. Today more than ever, law enforcement work is also proactive.
In proactive policing, law enforcement uses data and analyzes patterns to understand the nature of a problem. Officers devise strategies and tactics to prevent or mitigate future harm. They evaluate results and revise practices to improve policing. Departments may combine an array of data with street intelligence and crime analysis to produce better assessments about what might happen next if they take various actions.
What Is Predictive Policing?
Predictive policing tries to harness the power of information, geospatial technologies and evidence-based intervention models to reduce crime and improve public safety. This two-pronged approach — applying advanced analytics to various data sets, in conjunction with intervention models — can move law enforcement from reacting to crimes into the realm of predicting what and where something is likely to happen and deploying resources accordingly.
The predictive policing approach does not replace traditional policing. Instead, it enhances existing approaches such as problem-oriented policing, community policing, intelligence-led policing and hot spot policing.
Predictive policing leverages computer models — such as those used in the business industry to anticipate how market conditions or industry trends will evolve over time — for law enforcement purposes, namely anticipating likely crime events and informing actions to prevent crime. Predictions can focus on variables such as places, people, groups or incidents. Demographic trends, parolee populations and economic conditions may all affect crime rates in particular areas. Using models supported by prior crime and environmental data to inform different kinds of interventions can help police reduce the number of crime incidents…. https://www.nij.gov/topics/law-enforcement/strategies/predictive-policing/Pages/welcome.aspx
Learn more about NIJ’s predictive policing and geospatial police strategies research. https://www.nij.gov/topics/law-enforcement/strategies/predictive-policing/Pages/research.aspx

Crime reduction strategy is based upon a variety of factors which affect the crime reduction strategy used in a particular locale.

Resources:

Crime & Crime Prevention: Community Crime Prevention Strategies https://www.crimesolutions.gov/TopicDetails.aspx?ID=10

5 Common-Sense Ideas to Combat Crime https://www.citylab.com/equity/2013/05/5-common-sense-ideas-combat-crime/5527/

Effective Crime Reduction Strategy Includes Prisoner Re-Entry https://www.justice.gov/usao-edmi/archived-district-reports/effective-crime-reduction-strategy

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Swansea University study: Excessive posting of selfies is associated with increase in narcissism

12 Nov

Lisa Firestone Ph.D. wrote in the Psychology Today article, Is Social Media to Blame For the Rise In Narcissism?

So who’s to blame for this generational increase in narcissism?
Can we pin the tail on Mark Zuckerberg and the advent of Facebook? Over the last couple years, a plethora of research has been pouring in that makes connections between Facebook and narcissism. Studies are consistently finding that people who score higher on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire tend to have more friends on Facebook, tag themselves more often in photos and update their statuses more frequently. According to Laura Buffadi, a postdoctoral researcher at the Universidad de Dueto in Bilbao, Spain, “Narcissists use Facebook and other social networking sites because they believe others are interested in what they’re doing, and they want others to know what they are doing.”
In general, social media websites encourage self-promotion, as users generate all of the content. W. Keith Campbell explains that people often utilize Facebook “to look important, look special and to gain attention and status and self-esteem.” The trouble with this aspect of social networking is that nearly everyone presents an unrealistic portrait of themselves. Just as people select the most attractive photos of themselves to use as profile pictures, they tend to populate their newsfeeds with the most attractive bits of news about themselves. Of course, this is not always the case, but the unrealistically sunny picture that so many social networkers paint can have a negative psychological effect on their friends or followers. Recent studies of undergraduates across the country have shown that “students who were more involved with Facebook were more likely to think other people’s lives were happier and better.” These heavy Facebook users were also more likely to negatively compare themselves to others and feel worse about themselves.
While Facebook is certainly a platform for narcissists, it is a mistake to assume that Facebook alone has caused this spike in narcissism. As researcher Shawn Bergman pointed out, “There is a significant amount of psychological research that shows that one’s personality is fairly well-established by age 7,” given that Facebook’s policy doesn’t allow users to register until age 13 “the personality traits of typical users are fairly well-ingrained by the time they get on a social network.”
The truth is the rise in narcissism among millennials may have less to do with our social networks online and more to do with our social networks at home. Throughout the last few decades, there has been an increase in parental coddling and the so-called “self-esteem” movement. Parents and teachers trying to instill a healthy sense of self-esteem in children by praising them lavishly often do more harm than good. In fact, studies show that children offered compliments for a skill they have not mastered or talents that they do not have are left feeling emptier and more insecure. Only when children are praised for real accomplishments are they able to build actual self-esteem. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/compassion-matters/201211/is-social-media-blame-the-rise-in-narcissism

The question most want to ask about narcissists is, are they bad people?

Elinor Greenberg, Ph.D. wrote in the Psychology Today article, Are Narcissists Bad People? Do they choose to hurt other people or are they unable to control themselves?

Most of the hurt that narcissists cause is the result of two basic sets of issues:
1. The need to retaliate to protect their self-esteem
Blame and retaliation: During any sort of disagreement, or even a fairly neutral situation, as soon as narcissists start to feel bad, they are likely to see whomever they are with as responsible for their discomfort. They quickly move from blaming the other person to angrily retaliating.
Justification: They feel justified because without whole object relations or object constancy, they now see the other person as the all-bad enemy. In addition, they have temporarily lost touch with any positive past history between them and the other person.
Fragile self-esteem: Their fragile self-esteem makes it extremely painful for them to become aware of their part in causing a fight. They do not even try to see how they might be at fault because that would pierce their narcissistic defenses and result in them feeling imperfect and deeply shamed.
Difficulty apologizing: After they calm down, they may realize that they over-reacted and regret it. Unfortunately, their underlying shaky self-esteem makes it very unlikely they will admit they were wrong and apologize. Instead, they are likely to make a reparative gesture, such as giving the person a present.
However, if the other person wants to talk about what happened, they are likely to become very defensive and feel attacked. Then the cycle of blame and retaliation and reparation may start all over again.
2. Self-centeredness and lack of emotional empathy
Narcissists often unintentionally do things that hurt other people because they are so self-centered and lack emotional empathy. For example, they may make fun of you in front of other people and just think they are being funny. Or you may tell them that you have a stomach virus and instead of sympathizing, they tell you that they had one much worse than yours.
How do we judge them?
Do we give them a free pass to hurt other people because they have a narcissistic personality disorder? I would not. At the very least, most well-intentioned people with NPD:
• Know that they are selfish.
• Know that other people are getting hurt by them.
• Know psychotherapy exists and most are choosing not to go for help to change.
• Have been told that what they are doing is hurtful and continue doing it anyway.
But: This subset of narcissists are not setting out to hurt other people on purpose…. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/understanding-narcissism/201810/are-narcissists-bad-people

Researchers are studying the intersection of personality disorders and social media.

Science Daily reported in Excessive posting of selfies is associated with increase in narcissism:

A new study has established that excessive use of social media, in particular the posting of images and selfies, is associated with a subsequent increase in narcissism.
Published in The Open Psychology Journal, researchers from Swansea University and Milan University studied personality changes of 74 individuals aged 18 to 34 over a four-month period.
They also assessed the participants’ usage of social media — including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat — during that same period.
Narcissism is a personality characteristic that can involve grandiose exhibitionism, beliefs relating to entitlement, and exploiting others.
Those who used social media excessively, through visual postings, displayed an average 25% increase in such narcissistic traits over the four months of the study.
This increase took many of these participants above the clinical cut-off for Narcissistic Personality Disorder, according to the measurement scale used.
The study also found that those who primarily used social media for verbal postings, such as Twitter, did not show these effects.
However, for this group of people, their initial levels of narcissism predicted a growth in this form of social media usage over time. The more narcissistic they were to begin with, the more verbal postings they made later.
All but one of the people in the study used social media, and their average use was about three hours a day, excluding usage for work, but some reported using social media for as much as eight hours a day for non-work related purposes.
Facebook was used by 60% of the sample, 25% used Instagram, and 13% used Twitter and Snapchat each. Over two thirds of the participants primarily used social media for posting images…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181109112655.htm

Citation:

Excessive posting of selfies is associated with increase in narcissism
Date: November 9, 2018
Source: Swansea University
Summary:
A new study has established that excessive use of social media, in particular the posting of images and selfies, is associated with a subsequent increase in narcissism by an average of 25 percent.

Journal Reference:
Phil Reed, Nazli I. Bircek, Lisa A. Osborne, Caterina Viganò, Roberto Truzoli. Visual Social Media Use Moderates the Relationship between Initial Problematic Internet Use and Later Narcissism. The Open Psychology Journal, 2018; 11 (1): 163 DOI: 10.2174/1874350101811010163

Here is the press release from Swansea University:

Excessive posting of photos on social media is associated with increase in narcissism
A new study has established that excessive use of social media, in particular the posting of images and selfies, is associated with a subsequent increase in narcissism.
Researchers from Swansea University and Milan University studied personality changes of 74 individuals aged 18 to 34 over a four-month period. They also assessed the participants’ usage of social media – including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat – during that same period.
The work was published in The Open Psychology Journal.
Narcissism is a personality characteristic that can involve grandiose exhibitionism, beliefs relating to entitlement, and exploiting others.
Those who used social media excessively, through visual postings, displayed an average 25% increase in such narcissistic traits over the four months of the study.
This increase took many of these participants above the clinical cut-off for Narcissistic Personality Disorder, according to the measurement scale used.
Read the research paper
The study also found that those who primarily used social media for verbal postings, such as Twitter, did not show these effects. However, for this group of people, their initial levels of narcissism predicted a growth in this form of social media usage over time. The more narcissistic they were to begin with, the more verbal postings they made later.
All but one of the people in the study used social media, and their average use was about three hours a day, excluding usage for work, but some reported using social media for as much as eight hours a day for non-work related purposes.
Facebook was used by 60% of the sample, 25% used Instagram, and 13% used Twitter and Snapchat each. Over two thirds of the participants primarily used social media for posting images.
Professor Phil Reed from the Department of Psychology at Swansea University, who led the study, said:
“There have been suggestions of links between narcissism and the use of visual postings on social media, such as Facebook, but, until this study, it was not known if narcissists use this form of social media more, or whether using such platforms is associated with the subsequent growth in narcissism.
“The results of this study suggest that both occur, but show that posting selfies can increase narcissism.
“Taking our sample as representative of the population, which there is no reason to doubt, this means that about 20% of people may be at risk of developing such narcissistic traits associated with their excessive visual social media use.
“That the predominant usage of social media for the participants was visual, mainly through Facebook, suggests the growth of this personality problem could be seen increasingly more often, unless we recognise the dangers in this form of communication.”
Professor Roberto Truzoli from Milan University added:
“The use of visual social media may emphasise the perception of narcissistic individuals that they are the main focus of attention.
“The lack of immediate ‘direct’ social censure, may offer them the opportunity to inflict aspects of their narcissistic personality, present themselves in a grandiose manner, and realise fantasies of omnipotence.”
The study was conducted by Professor Phil Reed and Nazli Bircek from Swansea University, Dr. Lisa Osborne from the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, and Dr. Caterina Viganò and Professor Roberto Truzoli from Milan University.
Find out about research in the College of Human and Health Sciences at Swansea University

Posted by Ben Donovan
Friday 9 November 2018 09.45 GMT
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The healthy use of social media must be determined by each individual’

Pamela B. Rutledge Ph.D., M.B.A. wrote in the Psychology Today article, The Healthy Use of Social Media: Start with your goals. Is your social media use helping or hurting them?

Balance is key
While research does not support the fears about social media causing “addiction”, destroying empathy and social skills or turning a generation into narcissists, doing any one thing to the exclusion of others can create challenges. If you feel harrassed and overwhelmed by information overload or pressure from all that connectivity:
• Take the time to identify your larger goals, such as success at work or school, good relationships, or personal development.
• Evaluate your social media use and determine if it’s helping you meet those goals–keep a social media diary for a few days to learn what you use, when you use it and how it makes you feel
• Remember that you are the boss of your technology, not the other way around. Just because something rings or buzzes, doesn’t mean you have to answer
• Give youself permission to take a technology break from time to time and remind yourself what it feels like to be unplugged
• How you use your social media and mobile tools is unique to you and your goals. Don’t use others’ behavior to determine yours https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/positively-media/201310/the-healthy-use-social-media

While technology has advanced many aspects of civilization and made many tasks easier, its impact on social engagement and individual personality development may not be as salutatory.

“To know a species, look at its fears. To know yourself, look at your fears. Fear in itself is not important, but fear stands there and points you in the direction of things that are important. Don’t be afraid of your fears, they’re not there to scare you; they’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”
C. Joy Bell C.

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Stanford Medicine study: Older fathers associated with increased birth risks, study reports

8 Nov

Typically, older mothers are the subject of risk factor analysis for pregnancy after 35. The Mayo Clinic staff wrote in Pregnancy after 35: Healthy moms, healthy babies:

Understand the risks
The biological clock is a fact of life, but there’s nothing magical about age 35. It’s simply an age at which various risks become more discussion worthy. For example:
• It might take longer to get pregnant. You’re born with a limited number of eggs. As you reach your mid- to late 30s, your eggs decrease in quantity and quality. Also, older women’s eggs aren’t fertilized as easily as younger women’s eggs. If you are older than age 35 and haven’t been able to conceive for six months, consider asking your health care provider for advice.
• You’re more likely to have a multiple pregnancy. The chance of having twins increases with age due to hormonal changes that could cause the release of multiple eggs at the same time. The use of assisted reproductive technologies — such as in vitro fertilization — also can play a role.
• You’re more likely to develop gestational diabetes. This type of diabetes, which occurs only during pregnancy, is more common as women get older. Tight control of blood sugar through diet and physical activity is essential. Sometimes medication is needed, too. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause a baby to grow significantly larger than average — which increases the risk of injuries during delivery. Gestational diabetes can also increase the risk of premature birth, high blood pressure during pregnancy, and complications to your infant after delivery.
• You’re more likely to develop high blood pressure during pregnancy. Research suggests high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy is more common in older women. Your health care provider will carefully monitor your blood pressure and your baby’s growth and development. You will need more frequent obstetric appointments and you might need to deliver before your due date to avoid complications.
• You’re more likely to have a low birth weight baby and a premature birth. Premature babies, especially those born earliest, often have complicated medical problems.
• You might need a C-section. Older mothers have a higher risk of pregnancy-related complications that might lead to a C-section delivery. An example of a complication is a condition in which the placenta blocks the cervix (placenta previa).
• The risk of chromosome abnormalities is higher. Babies born to older mothers have a higher risk of certain chromosome problems, such as Down syndrome.
• The risk of pregnancy loss is higher. The risk of pregnancy loss — by miscarriage and stillbirth — increases as you get older, perhaps due to pre-existing medical conditions or fetal chromosomal abnormalities. Research suggests that the decrease in the quality of your eggs, combined with an increased risk of chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, could increase your risk of miscarriage. Ask your health care provider about monitoring your baby’s well-being during the last weeks of pregnancy.
While further research is needed, studies suggest that men’s ages at the time of conception — the paternal age — also might pose health risks for children…. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/pregnancy/art-20045756

Stanford Medicine studied the risk factors associated with older fathers.

Science Daily reported in Older fathers associated with increased birth risks, study reports:

A decade of data documenting live births in the United States links babies of older fathers with a variety of increased risks at birth, including low birth weight and seizures, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
The data even suggest that the age of the father can sway the health of the mother during pregnancy, specifically her risk for developing diabetes.
“We tend to look at maternal factors in evaluating associated birth risks, but this study shows that having a healthy baby is a team sport, and the father’s age contributes to the baby’s health, too,” said Michael Eisenberg, MD, associate professor of urology.
Data from more than 40 million births showed that babies born to fathers of an “advanced paternal age,” which roughly equates to older than 35, were at a higher risk for adverse birth outcomes, such as low birth weight, seizures and need for ventilation immediately after birth. Generally speaking, the older a father’s age, the greater the risk. For example, men who were 45 or older were 14 percent more likely to have a child born prematurely, and men 50 or older were 28 percent more likely to have a child that required admission to the neonatal intensive care unit.
Still, these numbers aren’t reason to drastically change any life plans, as the risks are still relatively low, Eisenberg said. He compared the increased risks to buying lottery tickets. “If you buy two lottery tickets instead of one, your chances of winning double, so it’s increased by 100 percent,” he said. “But that’s a relative increase. Because your chance of winning the lottery started very small, it’s still unlikely that you’re going to win the lottery. This is a very extreme example, but the same concept can be applied to how you think about these birth risks.”
Instead, Eisenberg sees the findings as informational ammunition for people planning a family and hopes that they will serve to educate the public and health officials.
A paper describing the study will be published online Nov. 1 in the The British Medical Journal. Eisenberg is the senior author. Resident physician Yash Khandwala, MD, is the lead author…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181101133759.htm

See, Pregnancy at Dr. Wilda https://drwilda.com/tag/pregnancy/

Citation:

Older fathers associated with increased birth risks, study reports
Date: November 1, 2018
Source: Stanford Medicine
Summary:
A decade of data documenting live births in the United States links babies of older fathers with a variety of increased risks at birth, including low birth weight and seizures, according to a new study.

Infants of older fathers are at greater risk of birth complications
BMJ 2018; 363 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k4595 (Published 01 November 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4595
Linked research
Association of paternal age with perinatal outcomes
Paternal factors in preconception care: the case of paternal age
BMJ 2018; 363 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k4466 (Published 31 October 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4466

Here is the press release from Stanford Medicine:

Older fathers associated with increased birth risks

From the data of more than 40 million births, scientists at Stanford have linked paternal age to birth risks, and even risks to the mother’s health.
A decade of data documenting live births in the United States links babies of older fathers with a variety of increased risks at birth, including low birth weight and seizures, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
The data even suggest that the age of the father can sway the health of the mother during pregnancy, specifically her risk for developing diabetes.
“We tend to look at maternal factors in evaluating associated birth risks, but this study shows that having a healthy baby is a team sport, and the father’s age contributes to the baby’s health, too,” said Michael Eisenberg, MD, associate professor of urology.
Data from more than 40 million births showed that babies born to fathers of an “advanced paternal age,” which roughly equates to older than 35, were at a higher risk for adverse birth outcomes, such as low birth weight, seizures and need for ventilation immediately after birth. Generally speaking, the older a father’s age, the greater the risk. For example, men who were 45 or older were 14 percent more likely to have a child born prematurely, and men 50 or older were 28 percent more likely to have a child that required admission to the neonatal intensive care unit.
Still, these numbers aren’t reason to drastically change any life plans, as the risks are still relatively low, Eisenberg said. He compared the increased risks to buying lottery tickets. “If you buy two lottery tickets instead of one, your chances of winning double, so it’s increased by 100 percent,” he said. “But that’s a relative increase. Because your chance of winning the lottery started very small, it’s still unlikely that you’re going to win the lottery. This is a very extreme example, but the same concept can be applied to how you think about these birth risks.”
Instead, Eisenberg sees the findings as informational ammunition for people planning a family and hopes that they will serve to educate the public and health officials.
A paper describing the study was published online Nov. 1 in the British Medical Journal. Eisenberg is the senior author. Resident physician Yash Khandwala, MD, is the lead author.
Increased risks at 35
Back in 2017, Eisenberg published a study showing that the number of older men fathering children was on the rise. Now, about 10 percent of infants are born to fathers over the age of 40, whereas four decades ago it was only 4 percent.
“We’re seeing these shifts across the United States, across race strata, across education levels, geography — everywhere you look, the same patterns are being seen,” Eisenberg said. “So I do think it’s becoming more relevant for us to understand the health ramifications of advanced paternal age on infant and maternal health.”
Having a better understanding of the father’s biological role will be obviously important for the offspring, but also potentially for the mother.
Eisenberg and his colleagues used data from 40.5 million live births documented through a data-sharing program run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics. The researchers organized the information based on the fathers’ age — younger than 25; 25 to 34; 35 to 44; 45 to 55; and older than 55 — and controlled for a variety of parameters that might skew the association between the father’s age and birth outcomes, such as race, education level, marital status, smoking history, access to care and the mother’s age.
The data suggested that once a dad hits age 35, there’s a slight increase in birth risks overall — with every year that a man ages, he accumulates on average two new mutations in the DNA of his sperm — but birth risks for infants born to fathers of the subsequent age tier showed sharper increases.
Compared with fathers between the ages of 25 and 34 (the average age of paternity in the United States), infants born to men 45 or older were 14 percent more likely to be admitted to the NICU, 14 percent more likely to be born prematurely, 18 percent more likely to have seizures and 14 percent more likely to have a low birth weight. If a father was 50 or older, the likelihood that their infant would need ventilation upon birth increased by 10 percent, and the odds that they would need assistance from the neonatal intensive care unit increased by 28 percent.
“What was really surprising was that there seemed to be an association between advanced paternal age and the chance that the mother would develop diabetes during pregnancy,” said Eisenberg. For men age 45 and older, their partners were 28 percent more likely to develop gestational diabetes, compared with fathers between 25 and 34. Eisenberg points out that possible biological mechanisms at play here are still a bit murky, but he suspects that the mother’s placenta has a role.
Beyond correlation
Moving forward, Eisenberg wants to look into other population cohorts to confirm the associations between age and birth risks, as well as begin to decode some of the possible biological mechanisms.
“Scientists have looked at these kinds of trends before, but this is the most comprehensive study to look at the relationship between the father’s age and birth outcomes at a population level,” said Eisenberg. “Having a better understanding of the father’s biological role will be obviously important for the offspring, but also potentially for the mother.”
Other Stanford co-authors of the study are professor of obstetrics and gynecology Valerie Baker, MD; professor of pediatrics Gary Shaw, DrPH; professor of pediatrics David K. Stevenson, MD; and professor of biomedical data, Ying Lu, PhD.
Eisenberg is a member of Stanford Bio-X, the Stanford Child Health Research Institute and the Stanford Cancer Institute.
Stanford’s Department of Urology also supported the work.
By HANAE ARMITAGE
Hanae Armitage is a science writer for the medical school’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs. Email her at harmitag@stanford.edu. http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2018/10/older-fathers-associated-with-increased-birth-risks.html

There are benefits and cautions for those becoming parents after 35.

Dinah Wisenberg Brin wrote in the CNBC article Older-Parent Families: Advantages and Disadvantages:

Beyond the retirement and college-planning decisions, middle-aged parents may be caring for their own frail, elderly parents at the same time they’re raising preschoolers, a potentially costly prospect that points to another issue: No built-in support network of youthful grandparents who can babysit during parental getaways. CFP Kahler knows this first hand.
“Our childcare bill is as much as our airfare bill,” he says. Trading childcare with other families can defrays the costs, though, he adds.
The age factor similarly can make it difficult for middle-age parents to find willing and able guardians to name in their wills. Lindsay recalls a former client couple in their 40s with young children who had trouble completing their estate planning because they had only older siblings and no one willing to be named as guardians.
“Sometimes it just comes down to making the best decision out of a number of poor alternatives,” Kahler says. “It may mean sending them out of state to someone, you may be looking to nieces and nephews who could potentially raise a child.”
Older-parent families can face other advantages and disadvantages, as well.
“I think my kids will need less therapy than if I’d had kids in my 20s,” Kahler jokes. On the other hand, he notes there are costs associated with the care of an aging body. “I tell my kids, `The horsey can only go up and down the hallway a couple of times before the horsey runs out of gas.’ ” https://www.cnbc.com/id/44378785

Our goal as a society should be a healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood. ©

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Infectious Diseases Society of America study: Fatal measles case highlights importance of herd immunity in protecting the vulnerable

4 Nov

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lay out the case for vaccination:
Why Are Childhood Vaccines So Important?

It is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it after it occurs.
Diseases that used to be common in this country and around the world, including polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rubella (German measles), mumps, tetanus, rotavirus and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) can now be prevented by vaccination. Thanks to a vaccine, one of the most terrible diseases in history – smallpox – no longer exists outside the laboratory. Over the years vaccines have prevented countless cases of disease and saved millions of lives.
Immunity Protects us From Disease
Immunity is the body’s way of preventing disease. Children are born with an immune system composed of cells, glands, organs, and fluids located throughout the body. The immune system recognizes germs that enter the body as “foreign invaders” (called antigens) and produces proteins called antibodies to fight them.
The first time a child is infected with a specific antigen (say measles virus), the immune system produces antibodies designed to fight it. This takes time . . . usually the immune system can’t work fast enough to prevent the antigen from causing disease, so the child still gets sick. However, the immune system “remembers” that antigen. If it ever enters the body again, even after many years, the immune system can produce antibodies fast enough to keep it from causing disease a second time. This protection is called immunity.
It would be nice if there were a way to give children immunity to a disease without their having to get sick first.
In fact there is:
Vaccines contain the same antigens (or parts of antigens) that cause diseases. For example, measles vaccine contains measles virus. But the antigens in vaccines are either killed, or weakened to the point that they don’t cause disease. However, they are strong enough to make the immune system produce antibodies that lead to immunity. In other words, a vaccine is a safer substitute for a child’s first exposure to a disease. The child gets protection without having to get sick. Through vaccination, children can develop immunity without suffering from the actual diseases that vaccines prevent.
More Facts
• Newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies they got from their mothers. However, this immunity goes away during the first year of life.
• If an unvaccinated child is exposed to a disease germ, the child’s body may not be strong enough to fight the disease. Before vaccines, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent, such as whooping cough, measles, and polio. Those same germs exist today, but because babies are protected by vaccines, we don’t see these diseases nearly as often.
• Immunizing individual children also helps to protect the health of our community, especially those people who cannot be immunized (children who are too young to be vaccinated, or those who can’t receive certain vaccines for medical reasons), and the small proportion of people who don’t respond to a particular vaccine.
• Vaccine-preventable diseases have a costly impact, resulting in doctor’s visits, hospitalizations, and premature deaths. Sick children can also cause parents to lose time from work. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/howvpd.htm

A key component of the effectiveness of the effectiveness of vaccines is herd protection.

PBS NOVA reported in What is Herd Immunity?

What is “herd immunity?”
Just as a herd of cattle or sheep uses sheer numbers to protect its members from predators, herd immunity protects a community from infectious diseases by virtue of the sheer numbers of people immune to such diseases. The more members of a human “herd” who are immune to a given disease, the better protected the whole populace will be from an outbreak of that disease.
There are two ways an individual can become immune to an infectious disease: by becoming infected with the pathogen that causes it or by being vaccinated against it. Because vaccines induce immunity without causing illness, they are a comparatively safe and effective way to fill a community with disease-resistant people. These vaccinated individuals have protected themselves from disease. But, in turn, they are also protecting members of the community who cannot be vaccinated, preventing the chain of disease from reaching them and limiting potential outbreaks. Every vaccinated person adds to the effectiveness of this community-level protection.
What do thresholds have to do with herd immunity?
The microbes that cause disease all have different infectious features. Some, like measles and influenza, pass from person to person more easily than others. Some tend to have more severe consequences in specific demographic groups. For example, the symptoms of pertussis, or whooping cough, are distressing at any age but can be fatal in infants, the age group with the highest death rate from pertussis. Each of these features—such as transmissibility and severity—affects a given disease’s threshold, or the minimum percentage of immune individuals a community needs to prevent an outbreak.
To set a threshold, epidemiologists—experts in infectious disease transmission—use a value called “basic reproduction number,” often referred to as “R0.” This number represents how many people in an unprotected population one infected person could pass the disease along to. For example, R0 for measles is between 12 and 18, while for polio, it is between five and seve. The higher this number is, the higher the immunity threshold must be to protect the community. Because measles is extremely contagious and can spread through the air, for example, the immunity threshold needed to protect a community is high, at 95%. Diseases like polio, which are a little less contagious, have a lower threshold—80% to 85% in the case of polio….. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/herd-immunity/

Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) reported about the importance of herd protection in cases where a disease can prove fatal with out herd protection.

Science Daily reported in Fatal measles case highlights importance of herd immunity in protecting the vulnerable:

Last year, a 26-year-old man receiving treatment for leukemia went to a Swiss hospital’s emergency room with a fever, a sore throat, and a cough, and was admitted. His condition worsened, and 17 days later, he died from severe complications of measles. The man’s weakened immune system was unable to fight off the disease, even though he was vaccinated against measles as a child.
A new report in Open Forum Infectious Diseases describes the man’s case, highlighting the importance of maintaining high vaccination coverage in the community to help protect people with compromised immune systems from measles and other vaccine-preventable infections. “Measles is not harmless, it’s a serious disease,” said the report’s lead author, Philipp Jent, MD, of Bern University Hospital and the University of Bern in Switzerland. “There is a responsibility to vaccinate yourself to protect others, not only to protect yourself.”
Following the patient’s admission in February of 2017, he developed additional symptoms over the next several days, including a progressive rash, mouth sores, and conjunctivitis, that suggested measles, although he had been fully vaccinated against the disease with the recommended two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine in the 1990s. A throat swab test confirmed the measles infection. Treatment with ribavirin (an antiviral drug), immunoglobulins (a type of antibody), and vitamin A did not improve his condition. He subsequently developed severe pneumonia and died.
The case illustrates how serious measles can be, particularly for people with compromised immune systems due to cancer treatment or other causes. It also underscores the importance of herd immunity in protecting these vulnerable individuals, the report’s authors noted. When vaccination rates in a community are high enough, vaccine-preventable diseases like measles are less likely to spread, which helps protect those who cannot be vaccinated (such as newborns not old enough to be immunized) or, like the patient in this case, for whom vaccines are not as effective.
When the proportion of people in a community who are vaccinated drops below this threshold, however, as it has for measles immunizations in several European countries, outbreaks are more likely. More than 41,000 children and adults in Europe were infected with measles during the first half of 2018, according to the World Health Organization, exceeding the annual total of European cases reported in any previous year this decade. In the U.S., there had been 142 confirmed cases of measles in 2018 as of early October, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Data released by CDC in October also showed a gradual but concerning climb in the numbers of U.S. children who reach their second birthday without having received any recommended vaccines…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181101133918.htm

Citation:

Fatal measles case highlights importance of herd immunity in protecting the vulnerable
Date: November 1, 2018
Source: Infectious Diseases Society of America
Summary:
A new report describes a recent case highlighting the importance of maintaining high vaccination coverage in the community to help protect people with compromised immune systems from measles and other vaccine-preventable infections.

Journal Reference:
Philipp Jent, Mafalda Trippel, Manuel Frey, Alexander Pöllinger, Sabina Berezowska, Rupert Langer, Hansjakob Furrer, Charles Béguelin. Fatal Measles Virus Infection After Rituximab-Containing Chemotherapy in a Previously Vaccinated Patient. Open Forum Infectious Diseases, 2018; 5 (11) DOI: 10.1093/ofid/ofy244

Here is the press release from IDSA:

Fatal Measles Case Highlights Importance of Herd Immunity in Protecting the Vulnerable
Last year, a 26-year-old man receiving treatment for leukemia went to a Swiss hospital’s emergency room with a fever, a sore throat, and a cough, and was admitted. His condition worsened, and 17 days later, he died from severe complications of measles. The man’s weakened immune system was unable to fight off the disease, even though he was vaccinated against measles as a child.
A new report in Open Forum Infectious Diseases describes the man’s case, highlighting the importance of maintaining high vaccination coverage in the community to help protect people with compromised immune systems from measles and other vaccine-preventable infections. “Measles is not harmless, it’s a serious disease,” said the report’s lead author, Philipp Jent, MD, of Bern University Hospital and the University of Bern in Switzerland. “There is a responsibility to vaccinate yourself to protect others, not only to protect yourself.”
Following the patient’s admission in February of 2017, he developed additional symptoms over the next several days, including a progressive rash, mouth sores, and conjunctivitis, that suggested measles, although he had been fully vaccinated against the disease with the recommended two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine in the 1990s. A throat swab test confirmed the measles infection. Treatment with ribavirin (an antiviral drug), immunoglobulins (a type of antibody), and vitamin A did not improve his condition. He subsequently developed severe pneumonia and died.
The case illustrates how serious measles can be, particularly for people with compromised immune systems due to cancer treatment or other causes. It also underscores the importance of herd immunity in protecting these vulnerable individuals, the report’s authors noted. When vaccination rates in a community are high enough, vaccine-preventable diseases like measles are less likely to spread, which helps protect those who cannot be vaccinated (such as newborns not old enough to be immunized) or, like the patient in this case, for whom vaccines are not as effective.
When the proportion of people in a community who are vaccinated drops below this threshold, however, as it has for measles immunizations in several European countries, outbreaks are more likely. More than 41,000 children and adults in Europe were infected with measles during the first half of 2018, according to the World Health Organization, exceeding the annual total of European cases reported in any previous year this decade. In the U.S., there had been 142 confirmed cases of measles in 2018 as of early October, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Data released by CDC in October also showed a gradual but concerning climb in the numbers of U.S. children who reach their second birthday without having received any recommended vaccines.
“Ongoing efforts to raise confidence in vaccines and increase population immunity should be intensified,” the authors wrote in the case report’s conclusion. Physicians caring for people with compromised immune systems, the authors noted, should also ensure that those in close contact with these patients, such as family members and friends, are fully vaccinated.
Fast Facts
• People with weakened immune systems are at risk for contracting vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, even if they have been vaccinated.
• In this case, a 26-year-old Swiss man undergoing treatment for leukemia contracted measles and died from severe complications of the infection, despite being fully vaccinated against measles as a child.
• Maintaining high enough levels of vaccination coverage in the broader community, also known as herd immunity, can limit the spread of measles and other diseases and help protect those who are especially vulnerable.
Editor’s Note: The report authors’ affiliations, acknowledgments, and disclosures of financial support and potential conflicts of interests, if any, are available in the full report.
Fatal Measles Virus Infection After Rituximab-Containing Chemotherapy in a Previously Vaccinated Patient
https://academic.oup.com/ofid/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/ofid/ofy244

There is an ongoing public debate about possible risks of vaccination for some individuals vs. the greater good of vaccination for the commons.

Kevin M. Malone and Alan R. Hinman wrote in Chapter 13 of Vaccination Mandates: The Public Health Imperative and Individual Rights:

BACKGROUND
Concept for Community Disease Prevention
Garrett Hardin’s classic essay The Tragedy of the Commons3 describes the challenges presented when societal interest conflicts with the individual’s interest. Hardin notes the incentives present when the cattle of a community are commingled in a common pasture. At capacity, each owner still has an incentive to add additional cattle to the common because even though the yield from each animal decreases with the addition of more cattle, this decrease is offset for the individual owner by the additional animal. With this incentive, individual owners continue to add cattle to the commons to reap their individual benefit, leading to the inevitable failure of the common from overgrazing. The community interest in maximizing food production, therefore, can be achieved only by placing controls on the interests of the individual owners in favor of those of the community. Analogously, a community free of an infectious disease because of a high vaccination rate can be viewed as a common. As in Hardin’s common, the very existence of this common leads to tension between the best interests of the individual and those of the community. Increased immunization rates result in significantly decreased risk for disease. Although no remaining unimmunized individual can be said to be free of risk from the infectious disease, the herd effect generated from high immunization rates significantly reduces the risk for disease for those individuals. Additional benefit is conferred on the unimmunized person because avoidance of the vaccine avoids the risk for any adverse reactions associated with the vaccine. As disease rates drop, the risks associated with the vaccine come even more to the fore, providing further incentive to avoid immunization. Thus, when an individual in this common chooses to go unimmunized, it only minimally increases the risk of illness for that individual, while conferring on that person the benefit of avoiding the risk of vaccine induced side effects. At the same time, however, this action weakens the herd effect protection for the entire community. As more and more individuals choose to do what is in their “best” individual interest, the common eventually fails as herd immunity disappears and disease outbreaks occur. To avoid this “tragedy of the commons,” legal requirements have been imposed by communities (in recent times, by states) to mandate particular vaccinations.
Vaccine Safety and Effectiveness
Vaccines are safe and effective. However, they are neither perfectly safe nor perfectly effective. Consequently, some persons who receive vaccines will be injured as a result, and some persons who receive vaccines will not be protected. Most adverse events associated with vaccines are minor and involve local soreness or redness at the injection site or perhaps fever for a day or so. Rarely, however, vaccine can cause more serious adverse events. Whether an adverse event that occurs after vaccination was caused by the vaccine or was merely temporally related and caused by some totally independent (and often unknown or unidentified) factor is often difficult to ascertain. This is particularly problematic during infancy, when a number of conditions may occur spontaneously…. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/imz-managers/guides-pubs/downloads/vacc_mandates_chptr13.pdf

The issue for those balancing individual decision-making and the needs of public health are how much coercion is necessary to compel individual vaccination with the goal of protecting public health.

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