Other

Maternal Risk Factors for Autism and Related Disorders in the Nurses’ Health Study 2

Current estimates suggest 1-6 children per 1000 have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and autism itself is the 6th most commonly classified disability in the United States (Fombonne et al, 2005; CDC 2006). There is still little known about the mechanisms underlying ASDs. Though genetics are known to play a role, interest in environmental, and potentially modifiable, factors that may be involved in these conditions has grown. The Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II) cohort, a large cohort of female United States nurses, represents a unique opportunity to prospectively investigate a wide range of environmental factors, including dietary and reproductive factors, for risk of ASDs in the offspring. We are currently comparing affected children from the NHS II cohort, with healthy children born in the same years, through a U.S. Department of Defense funded 3 year study.  Study methods include use of a questionnaire assessing perinatal complications, blood/urine collection for analysis of heavy metal toxins, saliva sample collection for DNA analysis, and comparision of available NHS II nutritional questionnaires.  Our primary aim is to identify maternal risk factors for ASDs, including maternal dietary, environmental and genetic factors.

Prospective Study of Depression in a Large Cohort of nurses

Prospective Study of Depression in a Cohort of Nurses

This project will generate the preliminary data needed to obtain funding for a large scale longitudinal study on risk factors for depression, which could address important hypotheses on the role of early life factors (birth weight, breast feeding), reproductive history (age at menarche, use of oral contraception, parity, menopause, hormone replacement therapy), diet (folic acid, vitamin D, n-3 fatty acids), and physical therapy.  We are systematically attempting to document the diagnosis of major depression by accepted diagnostic criteria in the Nurse’s Health Study cohort and we are prospectively investigating the risk factors for depression.

Prospective Study of Depression in a Cohort of Nurses

According to the World Health Organization, major depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide among persons aged 5 years and older, and is the most common and widespread of all psychiatric disorders. It has negative effects on the depressed individuals, their families, and the society.

Although depression has been studied widely as a risk factor for other diseases, and numerous studies have tried to indentify the risk factors for depression cross-sectionally, there are no prospective epidemiological studies looking at the etiology of depression.

In this study we systematically attempt to document the diagnosis of major depression by accepted DSM-IV diagnostic criteria and depression severity using a detailed self-administered questionnaire modeled after the WHO World Mental Health-Composite International Diagnostic Interview-Paper and Pencil Version, version 5. (WMH – CIDI PAPI V5).

The NHS II was selected for this project because it is an unusually rich source of diet and lifestyle data collected over time. Participants in this cohort have provided detailed and updated information on their diet and other aspects of lifestyle. Blood or cheek cell samples are also available from a large proportion of the participants.

After completing a pilot among the 200 randomly selected nurses and conducting a telephone based Structured Clinical Interview among a subset of these nurses, we validated our self administered questionnaire using the information from the 38 participants who completed both the interview and the questionnaire. The new revised questionnaire was then mailed out to 3767 nurses.

After the documentation of depression in the Nurses II cohort has been completed we plan to prospectively investigate the risk factors for depression. We will address important hypotheses on the role of early life factors (birth weight, breast feeding), reproductive history (age at menarche, use of oral contraception, parity, menopause, hormone replacement therapy), diet (folic acid, vitamin D, n-3 fatty acids), and physical activity. Future work will include identification of biomarkers, genetic risk factors, and possible gene-environment interactions.

Prospective Study of Restless Leg Syndrome

The goal of this study is to prospectively investigate risk factors (obesity, blood donation, and genetic components) and clinical consequences of restless legs syndrome among ~100,000 men and women.