Author Interviews, Global Health, Heart Disease, Mental Health Research / 21.08.2019 Interview with: Lasse Brandt, M.D. and Jonathan Henssler, M.D. Charité University Medicine Berlin, Germany What is the background for this study? Response: Migration has increased globally and the effect of migration on health is highly relevant for clinicians, particularly in mental health. There is no increase in the risk for nonaffective psychosis in the home countries of migrants, so environmental factors could be of key importance. Refugees are often subjected to inhuman conditions. While migration has repeatedly been identified and confirmed as a risk factor for psychosis, the impact of refugee experience on this risk of psychosis was unclear.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Environmental Risks, Global Health, Pediatrics, Toxin Research / 20.04.2019 Interview with: Madhav P. Bhatta, PhD, MPH Associate Professor, Epidemiology & Global Health College of Public Health Kent State University Kent, OH 44242 What is the background for this study? Response: Lead exposure, especially in children, in any amount is harmful. Lead poisoning is a growing global environmental health problem with increasing lead-related diseases, disabilities, and deaths.  While exposure to lead in US children, in general, has significantly declined in the last three to four decades certain sub-groups of US children such as African Americans, immigrants and resettled refugees, and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are still vulnerable to environmental lead exposure. Previous studies among resettled refugee children in the United States had found 4- to 5-times higher prevalence of elevated blood lead level (EBLL) when compared to US-born children. However, most of the studies were conducted when EBLL was defined as blood lead level ≥ 10 µg/dL. In 2012, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed the reference value for EBLL to ≥ 5 µg/dL. Moreover, because the countries of origin for US resettled refugees change over time, it is important to have epidemiologic studies that provide the current information on EBLL among these vulnerable new US immigrant children. Using blood lead level data from the post-resettlement medical screening, our study examined the prevalence of elevated blood lead level at the time of resettlement among former refugee children who were settled in the state of Ohio from 2009-2016. We had a large and diverse sample (5,661 children from 46 countries of origin) of children for the study, which allowed us to assess EBLL in children from several countries of origin that had not been previously studied. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Global Health, Vaccine Studies / 10.04.2017 Interview with: Deborah Lee, MPH Division of Global Migration and Quarantine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We wanted to assess whether documentation for vaccines provided to refugees overseas was received by clinicians in the US and if doses of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine were integrated into the vaccine schedule as recommended for adults and children by the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. CDC recommends that US-bound refugees receive vaccinations prior to arrival in the United States. Vaccinations are documented on the Vaccination Documentation Worksheet (DS-3025), which refugees bring with them to the United States, and made available to state and local refugee health programs through CDC’s Electronic Disease Notification (EDN) system. Thirty to 90 days after arrival, most refugees have a post-arrival health assessment performed by clinicians affiliated with the state and local refugee health programs. Our assessment indicated that most refugees had overseas vaccination documentation available at the post-arrival health assessments (87%), and that MMR vaccine was given when needed (83%). Furthermore, many refugees (90%) in our assessment did not require an additional MMR dose because they had received vaccination before entering the United States. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Karolinski Institute, Mental Health Research, Schizophrenia / 16.03.2016 Interview with: Anna-Clara Hollander PhD Division of Social Medicine, Department of Public Health Sciences Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The humanitarian crises in Europe, the Middle East, north Africa, and central Asia have led to more displaced people, asylum seekers, and refugees worldwide than at any time since the second world war. Refugees are known to be at an increased risk of mental health problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and other common mental disorders, compared to non-refugee migrants, but little is known about their risk of psychosis. The aim of the study was to determine the risk of schizophrenia and other non-affective psychotic disorders among refugees, compared to non-refugee migrants, and the general Swedish population. We used a linked national register data to examine more than 1.3 million people in Sweden, and tracked diagnoses of non-affective psychotic disorders among the population. The cohort included people born to two Swedish-born parents, refugees, and non-refugee migrants from the four major refugee generating regions: the Middle East and north Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Russia. Results showed 3,704 cases of non-affective psychotic disorders during the 8.9 million person years of follow up. Refugees granted asylum were on average 66% more likely to develop schizophrenia or another non-affective psychotic disorder than non-refugee migrants. In addition, they were up to 3.6 times more likely to do so than the Swedish-born population. Incidence rates for non-affective psychosis were 385 per million in those born in Sweden, 804 per million in non-refugee migrants, and 1264 per million in refugees. The increased rate in refugees was significant for all areas of origin except sub-Saharan Africa, for whom rates in both groups were similarly high relative to the Swedish-born population. One possible explanation is that a larger proportion of sub-Saharan Africa immigrants will have been exposed to deleterious psychosocial adversities before emigration, irrespective of refugee status. Alternatively post-migratory factors, such as discrimination, racism, and social exclusion may explain these high rates. Overall, our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that increased risk of non-affective psychotic disorders among immigrants is due to a higher frequency of exposure to social adversity before migration, including the effects of war, violence, or persecution. (more…)