41 e-Letters

published between 2009 and 2012

  • Good fit, but still the wrong model? Understanding data generation matters more than likelihood-based model-fit statistics.
    Mark S. Gilthorpe
    We read with interest the article describing methods for modelling count data with excess zeros compared to standard count distributions, such as Poisson1. This topic has been extensively discussed in the statistical and epidemiological literature2-3. Didactic messages given by statisticians can often lack an appreciation of the epidemiological context and sadly this article has the same shortcomings. The primary novelty is t...
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  • Not all fats the same
    Thomas D. Anderson

    There is much evidence linking learning and behaviour problems in childhood to refined oils in the maternal diet during pregnancy and lactation, particularly linoleic acid in both cis and trans forms which may impair fetal brain development. A lower IQ in these children would not be surprising.

    I have seen no evidence, however, linking fresh natural fats to any of these problems. Diets high in refined sugars...

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  • Re: UK newspapers' representations of the 2009-10 outbreak of swine flu: one health scare not over-hyped by the media?
    Sarah J Jones


    The authors conclusions that the media did not 'over-hype' the swine flu nondemic are reached as a result of a methodology that directed them towards that conclusion; an analysis solely of the UK print media.

    I travelled to New Zealand on 11 May - two weeks after the first cases emerged - and arrived in Melbourne on the 5th June, a time when this was arguably the swine flu capital of the world. Yes...

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  • And what of political science?
    Patrick C. Fafard
    There is much to like in the argument presented by Clare Bambra. Epidemiology (and public health generally) has much to learn from the social sciences and the reverse is also true. And Bambra is surely correct to raise concerns about the associated risks including the "engrained caution and purism of epidemiology" and the excessive deference to experimental research designs before acting. However, in order to effectively mana...
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  • Increase in Overweight Adolescents may be due to Increased Testosterone
    James M. Howard

    I suggest the findings of Xu, et al., are caused by increased testosterone within urban populations. A report comparing rural areas and a large city found that testosterone is higher in the large city (Folia Histochem Cytobiol. 2001;39 Suppl 2:38-9).

    It is my hypothesis that the "secular trend," the increase in size and earlier puberty occurring in children, is caused by an increase in the percentage of individu...

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  • High Testosterone and Associated Consequences May be Higher in Lower Socioeconmic Levels
    James M. Howard

    I suggest increased testosterone may be higher in the lower socioeconomic levels. Increased testosterone has been connected with reduced learning ability, reduced impulse control, and sexuality. All of these reduce the ability to obtain gainful employment and participation in a society increasingly dependent upon advanced educational achievement and personal control. This would concentrate this type of individual within...

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  • Press reports of Fetal Alcohol Powers are highly premature ...
    Julian K. Davies

    I agree with the previous responder that the age of 5 and the battery of tests used here seem inadequate to detect many of the impacts of prenatal alcohol exposure.

    Even so, I still find it remarkable that this study fails to find statistically significant (after adjustment for confounders) impacts of heavy maternal drinking in this sample to date.

    This may have resulted from the relatively young age...

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  • The Disappearing Link between Pregnancy and Drinking
    Leah A. Simms

    The findings by Kelley at al. (2010) were found in newspapers and TV shows and presented as evidence that light drinking during pregnancy may not be harmful after all. The study cannot be used as a dependable indication that low amounts of alcohol are beneficial to children, because the amount of alcohol consumed was measured by a self-report of the mother. Self-reported data on alcohol consumption does not produce accu...

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  • low level exposure - high level disfunction
    Barry Stanley

    2288 Rougecrest Drive, Oakville, Ontario. Canada. L6H 6N2 tel. 905 257 7869 e-mail bstanley3@cogeco.ca

    6th. October, 2010.

    Dear Editor.

    The SDQ is only a brief screening tool. It is questionable that its reliability extends to the highly charged questions of alcohol consumption during pregnancy and the effects on the child. The BAS is not comprehensive "were more specific abilities need investi...

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  • Public Health Issues concerning Hearing Problems in the working and non-working Population
    Teddy C. Cheng

    Dear Editor

    I am a Senior Audiologist by profession who qualified with a British Masters degree (University College London, 2004) and an American Doctorate degree (NOVA Southeastern University, 2006), both in Audiology. I have practised Clinical Audiology for more than six years and I work closely with Otolaryngology doctors/surgeons both in clinical procedures and research. At present (2010), I am pursuing a Master...

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