University General - Research Publications
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The development and validation of the Short Language Measure (SLaM): A brief measure of general language ability for children in their first year at school
BACKGROUND: There is no sufficiently accurate short-language measure that could be used by speech-language pathologists, teachers or paraprofessionals to screen young school-aged children to identify those requiring in-depth language evaluations. This may be due to poor development of the available measures, which have omitted crucial test development steps. Applying more stringent development procedures could result in a measure with sufficient accuracy. AIMS: To create and validate a short-language measure that has acceptable accuracy, validity and reliability, and which can be used to identify children who require further assessment and/or referral to speech-language services. METHODS & PROCEDURES: The study consisted of two phases. In Phase 1 (measure creation), 56 children were assessed with 160 direction-following and sentence-recall test items and a reference measure, the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals-Fourth Edition (CELF-4). Items were then examined for their individual characteristics (validity, reliability, difficulty and discrimination) via item analysis and the highest quality items were selected to form the Short Language Measure (SLaM). In Phase 2 (measure validation), 126 children were assessed with the SLaM and the reference measure (CELF-4) to determine SLaM's accuracy, validity and reliability. OUTCOMES & RESULTS: A total of 40 test items were selected to form SLaM in Phase 1. Findings from Phase 2 indicated that SLaM had an accuracy of 94% (sensitivity = 94%, specificity = 93%), validity of 0.89 and reliability of 0.93. These values remained relatively consistent across both phases. CONCLUSIONS & IMPLICATIONS: The results indicated that SLaM has excellent psychometric properties. It can be used to identify children who need further evaluation by a speech-language pathologist. What this paper adds What is already known on this subject Prior research suggests that combining a direction-following and a sentence-recall task has sufficient discrimination accuracy and agreement with an omnibus language measure. Trialling a large set of direction-following and sentence-recall test items to select those with the highest individual characteristics could result in an effective short-language measure. What this paper adds to existing knowledge A short-language measure (SLaM) was created and validated on two independent samples of children. Items with the highest validities, reliabilities and discrimination capacities were selected to form SLaM. This procedure resulted in a measure with high validity and reliability that exceeded the criterion for adequate discrimination accuracy. What are the potential or actual clinical implications of this work? SLaM is an effective measure that can accurately identify children who require detailed evaluations by speech-language pathologists.
Does detection of fetal growth restriction improve neonatal outcomes?
AIM: Timely delivery of fetal growth restriction (FGR) is a balance between avoiding stillbirth and minimising prematurity. We sought to assess the neonatal outcomes for babies suspected of FGR, both true and false positives. METHODS: This population cohort study examined all singleton births in Victoria, Australia from 2000 to 2017 (n = 1 231 415). Neonatal morbidities associated with neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission were assessed for babies born ≥32 weeks' with severe FGR (<3rd centile) and babies with birthweight ≥10th centile who were iatrogenically delivered for suspected FGR. RESULTS: Babies with severe FGR iatrogenically delivered for suspected FGR were more likely to require NICU admission than babies with severe FGR who were not detected (3.0% vs. 1.1%, P < 0.001). After adjusting for potential confounders, the odds of NICU admission were increased (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 3.00, 95% confidence interval = 2.45-3.67; P < 0.001). Rates of NICU admission were also higher in ≥10th centile babies iatrogenically delivered for suspected FGR than for ≥10th centile babies who entered labour spontaneously (1.8% vs. 0.5%, P < 0.001). After adjustments, the odds of NICU admission were increased (aOR = 3.91, 95% confidence interval = 3.40-4.49; P < 0.001). NICU admissions were associated with morbidities related to iatrogenic prematurity. CONCLUSIONS: Detection and planned delivery of FGR reduces stillbirth but may be associated with increased neonatal morbidity related to iatrogenic prematurity.
Sex is associated with the persistence of non-optimal vaginal microbiota following treatment for bacterial vaginosis: a prospective cohort study
OBJECTIVE: Determine the associations between factors and sexual practices and the composition of the vaginal microbiome (VM) of women treated for bacterial vaginosis (BV). DESIGN: Prospective cohort study. SETTING: The Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Melbourne, Australia. POPULATION: Seventy-five reproductive-age women diagnosed with clinical BV, treated with first-line antibiotics and followed for up to 6 months. METHODS: Women self-collected vaginal swabs and completed questionnaires at enrolment, the day following antibiotics and monthly for up to 6months until BV recurrence or no BV recurrence (n = 430 specimens). Bacterial composition was determined using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. The effects of ongoing factors on VM composition (utilising 291 monthly specimens) were assessed using generalised estimating equations population-averaged models, which accounted for repeated measures within individuals. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The relative abundance of vaginal bacterial taxa. RESULTS: Women who reported ongoing sex with a regular sexual partner (RSP) had a VM comprised of increased relative abundance of non-optimal BV-associated bacteria (Adjusted co-efficient [Adjusted co-eff] = 11.91, 95% CI 3.39to20.43, P = 0.006) and a decreased relative abundance of optimal, Lactobacillus species (Adjusted co-eff = -12.76, 95% CI -23.03 to -2.49, P = 0.015). A history of BV was also associated with a decreased relative abundance of Lactobacillus spp. (Adjusted co-eff = -12.35, 95% CI -22.68, P = 0.019). The relative abundance of Gardnerella, Atopobium and Sneathia spp. increased following sex with an RSP. CONCLUSIONS: Sex with an untreated RSP after BV treatment was associated with a VM comprised of non-optimal BV-associated bacteria. BV treatment approaches may need to include partner treatment if they are to achieve a sustained optimal VM associated with improved health outcomes. TWEETABLE ABSTRACT: Sex drives a return to a 'non-optimal' vaginal microbiota after antibiotics for bacterial vaginosis.
Real-world impact of anti-HER2 therapy-related cardiotoxicity in patients with advanced HER2-positive breast cancer
BACKGROUND: Anti-HER2 therapy-related cardiotoxicity is well described in the context of clinical trials, particularly in the setting of early stage disease, but there is more limited data in advanced breast cancer and in the real world setting. MATERIAL AND METHODS: A prospectively-maintained registry database with 312 consecutive patients diagnosed with HER2 positive advanced breast cancer in Australia was analysed. RESULTS: 287 patients (92%) received anti-HER2 therapy, 17 (6%) experienced anti-HER2 therapy-related cardiotoxicity. Patients who experienced cardiotoxicity were more likely to have ≥2 risk factors for cardiotoxicity (OR 3.9 95% CI 1.4-11.3 p = 0.01). A prior diagnosis of cardiovascular disease was significantly associated with cardiotoxicity (OR 7.1 95% CI 1.3-39.5). Cardiotoxicity resolved on imaging in 65% of patients; there was no association between severity and resolution. 11 patients (65%) received cardiologist input. Of the patients who developed cardiotoxicity, 12 patients (71%) received further anti-HER2 therapy in the first- or second-line setting without recurrent cardiotoxicity. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Therapy-related cardiotoxicity is an uncommon complication of anti-HER2 therapy in the real world setting. Cardiac toxicity resolved in the majority of affected patients, and further anti-HER2 therapy was administered without recurrence of cardiac issues. Our data suggests anti-HER2 therapy can be safely given in routine care, even in patients with risk factors for toxicity.
Intraoral human herpes viruses detectable by PCR in majority of patients
(John Wiley and Sons, 2021-03)
Objectives To identify factors which influence the intraoral prevalence of human herpes viruses (HHVs) using mucosal swabs, saliva samples and qPCR analysis. Methodology In this cross-sectional observational study, matched saliva and oral swabs were collected from a total of 115 subjects: 70 immunocompetent subjects with no mucosal abnormalities, 22 with mucosal abnormalities and 23 therapeutically immunocompromised individuals. Extracted DNA was analysed by multiplex qPCR for detection and quantification of HHVs 1–6. Results At least one human herpes virus was detected in 77.1% of immunocompetent individuals with no mucosal abnormalities, with EBV the most commonly detected at 61.4%. HHV-6 was detected in 17.1%, HSV-1 in 4.3% and CMV in 1.1%. Detection was higher in saliva than in oral swabs. There was no detection of HSV-2 or VZV. Neither presence of oral mucosal abnormality nor therapeutic immunocompromise was related to increased detection of human herpes virus. Conclusion Commensal detection rates of EBV are high, and caution in clinical correlation of positive detection is warranted. Commensal CMV rates are low, and detection is likely to be clinically relevant. This study presents a comprehensive commensal detection rate of HHVs 1–6 by qPCR in saliva and swabs.
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement in patients with a history of cancer: Periprocedural and long-term outcomes
BACKGROUND: A history of cancer is incorporated into the surgical risk assessment of patients undergoing surgical aortic valve replacement through the Society for Thoracic Surgeons score. However, the prognostic significance of cancer in patients treated with transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is unclear. As the cancer survivorship population increases, it is imperative to establish the efficacy and safety of TAVR in patients with severe symptomatic aortic stenosis (AS) and a history of malignancy. OBJECTIVES: The primary goal of this study was to assess the periprocedural outcomes and long-term mortality in patients with a history of cancer undergoing TAVR. METHODS: A systematic review of PubMed, MEDLINE, and EMBASE was conducted to identify studies reporting outcomes in patients with a history of malignancy undergoing TAVR. A meta-analysis was performed using a random-effects model with a primary outcome of all-cause mortality and cardiac mortality at the longest follow-up. On secondary analyses, procedural safety was assessed. RESULTS: A total of 13 observational studies with 10,916 patients were identified in the systematic review. Seven studies including 6,323 patients were included in the quantitative analysis. Short-term mortality (relative risk [RR] 0.61, 95%CI 0.36-1.01; p = .06) and long-term all-cause mortality (RR 1.24, 95%CI 0.95-1.63; p = .11) were not significantly different when comparing patients with and without a history of cancer. No significant difference in the rate of periprocedural complications including stroke, bleeding, acute kidney injury, and pacemaker implantation was noted. CONCLUSION: In patients with severe AS undergoing TAVR, a history of cancer was not associated with adverse short or long-term survival. Based on these findings, TAVR should be considered in all patients with severe symptomatic AS, irrespective of their history of malignancy.
A reduced-tillering trait shows small but important yield gains in dryland wheat production
Reducing the number of tillers per plant using a tiller inhibition (tin) gene has been considered as an important trait for wheat production in dryland environments. We used a spatial analysis approach with a daily time-step coupled radiation and transpiration efficiency model to simulate the impact of the reduced-tillering trait on wheat yield under different climate change scenarios across Australia's arable land. Our results show a small but consistent yield advantage of the reduced-tillering trait in the most water-limited environments both under current and likely future conditions. Our climate scenarios show that whilst elevated [CO2 ] (e[CO2 ]) alone might limit the area where the reduced-tillering trait is advantageous, the most likely climate scenario of e[CO2 ] combined with increased temperature and reduced rainfall consistently increased the area where restricted tillering has an advantage. Whilst long-term average yield advantages were small (ranged from 31 to 51 kg ha-1 year-1 ), across large dryland areas the value is large (potential cost-benefits ranged from Australian dollar 23 to 60 MIL/year). It seems therefore worthwhile to further explore this reduced-tillering trait in relation to a range of different environments and climates, because its benefits are likely to grow in future dry environments where wheat is grown around the world.
Early vigour in wheat: Could it lead to more severe terminal drought stress under elevated atmospheric [CO2] and semi-arid conditions?
Early vigour in wheat is a trait that has received attention for its benefits reducing evaporation from the soil surface early in the season. However, with the growth enhancement common to crops grown under elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations (e[CO2 ]), there is a risk that too much early growth might deplete soil water and lead to more severe terminal drought stress in environments where production relies on stored soil water content. If this is the case, the incorporation of such a trait in wheat breeding programmes might have unintended negative consequences in the future, especially in dry years. We used selected data from cultivars with proven expression of high and low early vigour from the Australian Grains Free Air CO2 Enrichment (AGFACE) facility, and complemented this analysis with simulation results from two crop growth models which differ in the modelling of leaf area development and crop water use. Grain yield responses to e[CO2 ] were lower in the high early vigour group compared to the low early vigour group, and although these differences were not significant, they were corroborated by simulation model results. However, the simulated lower response with high early vigour lines was not caused by an earlier or greater depletion of soil water under e[CO2 ] and the mechanisms responsible appear to be related to an earlier saturation of the radiation intercepted. Whether this is the case in the field needs to be further investigated. In addition, there was some evidence that the timing of the drought stress during crop growth influenced the effect of e[CO2 ] regardless of the early vigour trait. There is a need for FACE investigations of the value of traits for drought adaptation to be conducted under more severe drought conditions and variable timing of drought stress, a risky but necessary endeavour.
Selective intra-arterial calcium stimulation test for the localization of insulinomas: an Australian hospital experience
BACKGROUND: Insulinomas are rare tumours of the pancreas and the most common cause of hypoglycaemia in non-diabetic adults. They can be cured by surgery but require precise localization. The aim of this study was to assess the utility of the selective intra-arterial calcium stimulation test (SIACST) in patients with an insulinoma to correctly localize the tumour. METHODS: Medical records of patients with a diagnosis of insulinoma or who underwent an SIACST were retrospectively reviewed. Localization of lesions by SIACST was compared to endoscopic ultrasound and radionuclide imaging studies and verified against findings at surgery. RESULTS: A total of 24 patients (mean age 58 years, 16 females, 20 with insulinoma) underwent SIACST. The SIACST correctly localized the insulinoma in 17 of 20 patients (85%). Localization rate for computed tomography was 55% and 75% for endoscopic ultrasound and glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor scan. CONCLUSION: SIACST provided incremental diagnostic information in patients with insulinoma who had equivocal non-invasive imaging preoperatively. This technique remains an essential diagnostic tool when a lesion is not localized by other methods.
Population-based analysis of treatment patterns and outcomes for pancreas cancer in Victoria
BACKGROUND: The Victorian Pancreas Cancer summit 2017 analysed state-wide data on management of Victorians with pancreas cancer between 2011 and 2015 to identify variations in care and outcomes. Pancreas cancer remains a formidable disease but systemic therapies are increasingly effective. Surgery remains essential but insufficient alone for cure. Understanding patterns of care and identifying variations in treatment is critical to improving outcomes. METHODS: This population-based study analysed data collected prospectively by Department of Health and Human services (Victorian state government). Data were extracted from Victorian Cancer Registry (covering all Victorian cancer diagnoses), Victorian Admitted-Episodes Dataset (all inpatient data), Victorian Radiotherapy Minimum Dataset and Victorian Death Index providing demographics, tumour and treatment characteristics, age-standardized incidence, overall and median survival. RESULTS: Of 3962 Victorian patients with any form of pancreatic malignancy, 82% were ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), of whom 67% had metastases at diagnosis. One-year overall survival for PDAC was 30% (60% non-metastatic, 15% if metastatic). Median survival with metastases increased from 2.7 to 3.9 months, and from 13.3 to 15.9 months for non-metastatic PDAC between 2011 and 2015. Thirty-one percent of non-metastatic patients underwent pancreatectomy. About 1.5% were treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy/chemoradiation. Of patients undergoing intended curative resection, 77% proceeded to adjuvant therapy. Fifty-one percent of metastatic PDAC patients never received anti-tumour therapy. CONCLUSIONS: Nearly one-fourth of surgically treated patients never received systemic therapy. More than two-thirds of non-metastatic patients never proceeded to surgery. Further consideration of neoadjuvant therapy should be given to borderline resectable patients. Most patients with PDAC still die soon after diagnosis, but median survival is increasing.