Intended for healthcare professionals

Minerva

Bone and artery calcification . . . and other stories

BMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1614 (Published 01 July 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n1614

Bone and heart

Calcification in arteries and in bone show an inverse relation, according to a large study in Korean women. More than 12 000 women aged 50-80 underwent bone mineral density measurements. Over nine years of follow-up, women with lower bone mineral density were substantially more likely to suffer from atherosclerotic diseases (Heart doi:10.1136/heartjnl-2020-318764). Risk of myocardial infarction, ischaemic stroke, or death from cardiovascular causes increased by around 40% for each standard deviation decrease in bone mineral density.

Inflammatory bowel disease in pregnancy

A study in the Netherlands followed the offspring of 600 women with inflammatory bowel disease. The most important findings were reassuringly negative (Gut doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2019-319129). Prenatal exposure either to anti-TNF-α drugs or to thiopurine, both of which cross the placenta, wasn’t associated with adverse birth outcomes or growth failure, autoimmune diseases, malignancies, or severe infections in the first five years.

Vitamin D and risk of early onset type 2 diabetes

Some evidence suggests that fetal vitamin D status has a long term influence on glucose homoeostasis and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But the idea gets no support from a Danish study that measured 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 concentrations in the dried blood spot samples obtained at neonatal screening (Diabetologia doi: 10.1007/s00125-021-05450-2). Vitamin D concentrations in those who subsequently developed diabetes were no lower than those of a random sample of children born in the same period.

Mice in study of Alzheimer’s

An analysis of 600 scientific papers describing studies that used mouse models to investigate Alzheimer’s disease found that more than a third failed to mention mice in the title (PLoS Biol doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.3001260). This matters because absence of information about the experimental species made it more likely that the research would be picked up by newspapers and other media and reported as if the results applied directly to humans.

Guillain-Barré syndrome after covid-19

During the first wave of the covid-19 pandemic, the incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome in the UK fell (Brain doi:10.1093/brain/awaa433). It’s likely that lockdown reduced transmission of the infections that commonly cause the disease. In contrast, a study from 12 hospitals in northern Italy reports that Guillain-Barré syndrome was nearly three times more frequent in March and April 2020 than in the same months of the previous year (Neurol Neurosurg Psych doi:10.1136/jnnp-2020-324837). The increase was attributed to a predominantly demyelinating type of the neuropathy in patients with covid-19.

Kiwifruit for constipation

Prunes are a time honoured cure for constipation. They work because prunes contain both fibre and sorbitol. But so, of course, do kiwifruit. A small trial in adults with chronic constipation finds that, judged by increase in the weekly number of spontaneous bowel movements—the primary outcome of the trial—kiwifruit (two per day) and prunes (100 g per day) are equally effective (Am J Gastroenterol doi:10.14309/ajg.0000000000001149).

Mental health in partners of people with diabetes

People living with a partner with diabetes are at increased risk of developing depression or anxiety. That’s the finding of a longitudinal study of households in the US (Diabetes Care doi:10.2337/dc20-2652). Those whose partners were limited in their daily activities because of diabetes, or who suffered from other chronic conditions in addition to diabetes, were roughly twice as likely to be depressed or anxious as people whose partners didn’t have diabetes.

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