Does pride really come before a fall? Longitudinal analysis of older English adults

Objective To test whether high levels of reported pride are associated with subsequent falls.

Design Secondary analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) dataset.

Setting Multi-wave longitudinal sample of non-institutionalised older English adults.

Participants ELSA cohort of 6415 participants at wave 5 (baseline, 2010/11), of whom 4964 were available for follow-up at wave 7 (follow-up, 2014/15).

Main outcome measures Self reported pride at baseline (low/moderate/high) and whether the participant had reported having fallen during the two years before follow-up.

Results The findings did not support the contention that “pride comes before a fall.” Unadjusted estimates indicate that the odds of reported falls were significantly lower for people with high pride levels compared with those who had low pride (odds ratio 0.69, 95% confidence interval 0.58 to 0.81, P<0.001). This association remained after adjustment for age, sex, household wealth, and history of falls (odds ratio 0.81, 0.68 to 0.97, P<0.05). It was partially attenuated after further adjustment for mobility problems, eyesight problems, the presence of a limiting long term illness, a diagnosis of arthritis or osteoporosis, medication use, cognitive function, and pain and depression (odds ratio 0.86, 0.72 to 1.03, P<0.1). Because the confidence interval exceeded 1 in the final model, it remains possible that pride may not be an independent predictor of falls when known risk factors are considered. People with moderate pride did not have lower odds of having fallen than those with low pride in adjusted models. Participants lost to follow-up did not differ from those retained in terms of key variables, and weighting the analyses to account for selective attrition did not produce different results.

Conclusions Contrary to the well known saying “pride comes before a fall,” these findings suggest that pride may actually be a protective factor against falling in older adults. Future studies may seek to investigate the mechanisms underpinning this relation.

Reference: BMJ 2017;359:j5451


Simulation of Growth Trajectories of Childhood Obesity into Adulthood


Although the current obesity epidemic has been well documented in children and adults, less is known about long-term risks of adult obesity for a given child at his or her present age and weight. We developed a simulation model to estimate the risk of adult obesity at the age of 35 years for the current population of children in the United States.


We pooled height and weight data from five nationally representative longitudinal studies totaling 176,720 observations from 41,567 children and adults. We simulated growth trajectories across the life course and adjusted for secular trends. We created 1000 virtual populations of 1 million children through the age of 19 years that were representative of the 2016 population of the United States and projected their trajectories in height and weight up to the age of 35 years. Severe obesity was defined as a body-mass index (BMI, the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) of 35 or higher in adults and 120% or more of the 95th percentile in children.


Given the current level of childhood obesity, the models predicted that a majority of today’s children (57.3%; 95% uncertainly interval [UI], 55.2 to 60.0) will be obese at the age of 35 years, and roughly half of the projected prevalence will occur during childhood. Our simulations indicated that the relative risk of adult obesity increased with age and BMI, from 1.17 (95% UI, 1.09 to 1.29) for overweight 2-year-olds to 3.10 (95% UI, 2.43 to 3.65) for 19-year-olds with severe obesity. For children with severe obesity, the chance they will no longer be obese at the age of 35 years fell from 21.0% (95% UI, 7.3 to 47.3) at the age of 2 years to 6.1% (95% UI, 2.1 to 9.9) at the age of 19 years.


On the basis of our simulation models, childhood obesity and overweight will continue to be a major health problem in the United States. Early development of obesity predicted obesity in adulthood, especially for children who were severely obese. (Funded by the JPB Foundation and others.)

Sustained enjoyment of life and mortality at older ages: analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Objective To test whether the number of reports of enjoyment of life over a four year period is quantitatively associated with all cause mortality, and with death from cardiovascular disease and from other causes.

Design and setting Longitudinal observational population study using the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), a nationally representative sample of older men and women living in England.

Participants 9365 men and women aged 50 years or older (mean 63, standard deviation 9.3) at recruitment.

Main outcome measures Time to death, based on mortality between the third phase of data collection (wave 3 in 2006) and March 2013 (up to seven years).

Results Subjective wellbeing with measures of enjoyment of life were assessed in 2002 (wave 1), 2004 (wave 2), and 2006 (wave 3). 2264 (24%) respondents reported no enjoyment of life on any assessment, with 1833 (20%) reporting high enjoyment on one report of high enjoyment of life, 2063 (22%) on two reports, and 3205 (34%) on all three occasions. 1310 deaths were recorded during follow-up. Mortality was inversely associated with the number of occasions on which participants reported high enjoyment of life. Compared with the no high enjoyment group, the hazard ratio for all cause mortality was 0.83 (95% confidence interval 0.70 to 0.99) for two reports of enjoyment of life, and 0.76 (0.64 to 0.89) for three reports, after adjustment for demographic factors, baseline health, mobility impairment, and depressive symptoms. The same association was observed after deaths occurring within two years of the third enjoyment measure were excluded (0.90 (0.85 to 0.95) for every additional report of enjoyment), and in the complete case analysis (0.90 (0.83 to 0.96)).

Conclusions This is an observational study, so causal conclusions cannot be drawn. Nonetheless, the results add a new dimension to understanding the significance of subjective wellbeing for health outcomes by documenting the importance of sustained wellbeing over time.

Reference: BMJ 2016;355:i6267

International standards for symphysis-fundal height based on serial measurements from the Fetal Growth Longitudinal Study of the INTERGROWTH-21st Project: prospective cohort study in eight countries

Objective To create international symphysis-fundal height standards derived from pregnancies of healthy women with good maternal and perinatal outcomes.

Design Prospective longitudinal observational study.

Setting Eight geographically diverse urban regions in Brazil, China, India, Italy, Kenya, Oman, United Kingdom, and United States.

Participants Healthy, well nourished pregnant women enrolled into the Fetal Growth Longitudinal Study component of the INTERGROWTH-21st Project at 9-14 weeks’ gestation, and followed up until birth.

Main outcome measures Symphysis-fundal height was measured every five weeks from 14 weeks’ gestation until birth using standardised methods and dedicated research staff who were blinded to the symphysis-fundal height measurements by turning the tape measure so that numbers were not visible during examination. The best fitting curve was selected using second degree fractional polynomials and further modelled in a multilevel framework to account for the longitudinal design of the study.

Results Of 13 108 women screened in the first trimester, 4607 (35.1%) met the study entry criteria. Of the eligible women, 4321 (93.8%) had pregnancies without major complications and delivered live singletons without congenital malformations. The median number of symphysis-fundal height measurements was 5.0 (range 1-7); 3976 (92.0%) women had four or more measurements. Symphysis-fundal height measurements increased almost linearly with gestational age; data were used to determine fitted 3rd, 50th, and 97th centile curves, which showed excellent agreement with observed values.

Conclusions This study presents international standards to measure symphysis-fundal height as a first level screening tool for fetal growth disturbances.

BMJ 2016;355:i5662

Patterns of Growth and Decline in Lung Function in Persistent Childhood Asthma


Tracking longitudinal measurements of growth and decline in lung function in patients with persistent childhood asthma may reveal links between asthma and subsequent chronic airflow obstruction.


We classified children with asthma according to four characteristic patterns of lung-function growth and decline on the basis of graphs showing forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), representing spirometric measurements performed from childhood into adulthood. Risk factors associated with abnormal patterns were also examined. To define normal values, we used FEV1 values from participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey who did not have asthma.


Of the 684 study participants, 170 (25%) had a normal pattern of lung-function growth without early decline, and 514 (75%) had abnormal patterns: 176 (26%) had reduced growth and an early decline, 160 (23%) had reduced growth only, and 178 (26%) had normal growth and an early decline. Lower baseline values for FEV1, smaller bronchodilator response, airway hyperresponsiveness at baseline, and male sex were associated with reduced growth (P<0.001 for all comparisons). At the last spirometric measurement (mean [±SD] age, 26.0±1.8 years), 73 participants (11%) met Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease spirometric criteria for lung-function impairment that was consistent with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); these participants were more likely to have a reduced pattern of growth than a normal pattern (18% vs. 3%, P<0.001).


Childhood impairment of lung function and male sex were the most significant predictors of abnormal longitudinal patterns of lung-function growth and decline. Children with persistent asthma and reduced growth of lung function are at increased risk for fixed airflow obstruction and possibly COPD in early adulthood. (Funded by the Parker B. Francis Foundation and others; number,NCT00000575.)

N Engl J Med 2016; 374:1842-1852

Antibiotic Exposure During the First 6 Months of Life and Weight Gain During Childhood

Importance  Early-life antibiotic exposure has been associated with increased adiposity in animal models, mediated through the gut microbiome. Infant antibiotic exposure is common and often inappropriate. Studies of the association between infant antibiotics and childhood weight gain have reported inconsistent results.

Objective  To assess the association between early-life antibiotic exposure and childhood weight gain.

Design and Setting  Retrospective, longitudinal study of singleton births and matched longitudinal study of twin pairs conducted in a network of 30 pediatric primary care practices serving more than 200 000 children of diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

Participants  Children born between November 1, 2001, and December 31, 2011, at 35 weeks’ gestational age or older, with birth weight of 2000 g or more and in the fifth percentile or higher for gestational age, and who had a preventive health visit within 14 days of life and at least 2 additional visits in the first year of life. Children with complex chronic conditions and those who received long-term antibiotics or multiple systemic corticosteroid prescriptions were excluded. We included 38 522 singleton children and 92 twins (46 matched pairs) discordant in antibiotic exposure. Final date of follow-up was December 31, 2012.

Exposure  Systemic antibiotic use in the first 6 months of life.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Weight, measured at preventive health visits from age 6 months through 7 years.

Results  Of 38 522 singleton children (50% female; mean birth weight, 3.4 kg), 5287 (14%) were exposed to antibiotics during the first 6 months of life (at a mean age of 4.3 months). Antibiotic exposure was not significantly associated with rate of weight change (0.7%; 95% CI, −0.1% to 1.5%;P = .07, equivalent to approximately 0.05 kg; 95% CI, −0.004 to 0.11 kg of added weight gain between age 2 years and 5 years). Among 92 twins (38% female; mean birth weight, 2.8 kg), the 46 twins who were exposed to antibiotics during the first 6 months of life received them at a mean age of 4.5 months. Antibiotic exposure was not significantly associated with a weight difference (−0.09 kg; 95% CI, −0.26 to 0.08 kg; P = .30).

Conclusions and Relevance  Exposure to antibiotics within the first 6 months of life compared with no exposure was not associated with a statistically significant difference in weight gain through age 7 years. There are many reasons to limit antibiotic exposure in young, healthy children, but weight gain is likely not one of them.

By Jeffrey S Geber et al, JAMA. 2016;315(12):1258-1265

Antenatal blood pressure for prediction of pre-eclampsia, preterm birth, and small for gestational age babies: development and validation in two general population cohorts

Study question Can routine antenatal blood pressure measurements between 20 and 36 weeks’ gestation contribute to the prediction of pre-eclampsia and its associated adverse outcomes?

Methods This study used repeated antenatal measurements of blood pressure from 12 996 women in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) to develop prediction models and validated these in 3005 women from the Southampton Women’s Survey (SWS). A model based on maternal early pregnancy characteristics only (BMI, height, age, parity, smoking, existing and previous gestational hypertension and diabetes, and ethnicity) plus initial mean arterial pressure was compared with a model additionally including current mean arterial pressure, a model including the deviation of current mean arterial pressure from a stratified normogram, and a model including both at different gestational ages from 20-36 weeks.

Study answer and limitations The addition of blood pressure measurements from 28 weeks onwards improved prediction models compared with use of early pregnancy risk factors alone, but they contributed little to the prediction of preterm birth or small for gestational age. Though multiple imputation of missing data was used to increase the sample size and minimise selection bias, the validation sample might have been slightly underpowered as the number of cases of pre-eclampsia was just below the recommended 100. Several risk factors were self reported, potentially introducing measurement error, but this reflects how information would be obtained in clinical practice.

What this study adds The addition of routinely collected blood pressure measurements from 28 weeks onwards improves predictive models for pre-eclampsia based on blood pressure in early pregnancy and other characteristics, facilitating a reduction in scheduled antenatal care.

Funding, competing interests, data sharing UK Wellcome Trust, US National Institutes of Health, and UK Medical Research Council. Other funding sources for authors are detailed in the full online paper. With the exceptions of CM-W, HMI, and KMG there were no competing interests.

Corrie Macdonald-Wallis et al, BMJ 2015;351:h5948