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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
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  4. Chua Chin Heng, Matthew (Ed.)
    Early Childhood Caries (ECC) is the most common childhood disease worldwide and a health disparity among underserved children. ECC is preventable and reversible if detected early. However, many children from low-income families encounter barriers to dental care. An at-home caries detection technology could potentially improve access to dental care regardless of patients’ economic status and address the overwhelming prevalence of ECC. Our team has developed a smartphone application (app), AICaries, that uses artificial intelligence (AI)-powered technology to detect caries using children’s teeth photos. We used mixed methods to assess the acceptance, usability, and feasibility of the AICaries app among underserved parent-child dyads. We conducted moderated usability testing (Step 1) with ten parent-child dyads using "Think-aloud" methods to assess the flow and functionality of the app and analyze the data to refine the app and procedures. Next, we conducted unmoderated field testing (Step 2) with 32 parent-child dyads to test the app within their natural environment (home) over two weeks. We administered the System Usability Scale (SUS) and conducted semi-structured individual interviews with parents and conducted thematic analyses. AICaries app received a 78.4 SUS score from the participants, indicating an excellent acceptance. Notably, the majority (78.5%) of parent-taken photos of children’smore »teeth were satisfactory in quality for detection of caries using the AI app. Parents suggested using community health workers to provide training to parents needing assistance in taking high quality photos of their young child’s teeth. Perceived benefits from using the AICaries app include convenient at-home caries screening, informative on caries risk and education, and engaging family members. Data from this study support future clinical trial that evaluates the real-world impact of using this innovative smartphone app on early detection and prevention of ECC among low-income children.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 2, 2023
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  7. Early childhood caries (ECC) is not only the most common chronic childhood disease but also disproportionately affects underserved populations. Of those, children living in Thailand have been found to have high rates of ECC and severe ECC. Frequently, the cause of ECC is blamed on a handful of cariogenic organisms, such as Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus . However, ECC is a multifactorial disease that results from an ecological shift in the oral cavity from a neutral pH (~7.5) to an acidic pH (<5.5) environment influenced by the host individual’s biological, socio-behavioral, and lifestyle factors. Currently, there is a lack of understanding of how risk factors at various levels influence the oral health of children at risk. We applied a statistical machine learning approach for multimodal data integration (parallel and hierarchical) to identify caries-related multiplatform factors in a large cohort of mother-child dyads living in Chiang Mai, Thailand (N=177). Whole saliva (1 mL) was collected from each individual for DNA extraction and 16S rRNA sequencing. A set of maternal and early childhood factors were included in the data analysis. Significantly, vaginal delivery, preterm birth, and frequent sugary snacking were found to increase the risk for ECC. The salivary microbial diversitymore »was significantly different in children with ECC or without ECC. Results of linear discriminant analysis effect size (LEfSe) analysis of the microbial community demonstrated that S. mutans , Prevotella histicola , and Leptotrichia hongkongensis were significantly enriched in ECC children. Whereas Fusobacterium periodonticum was less abundant among caries-free children, suggesting its potential to be a candidate biomarker for good oral health. Based on the multimodal data integration and statistical machine learning models, the study revealed that the mode of delivery and snack consumption outrank salivary microbiome in predicting ECC in Thai children. The biological and behavioral factors may play significant roles in the microbial pathobiology of ECC and warrant further investigation.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 23, 2023
  8. Harezlak, Jaroslaw (Ed.)
    We examined multi-level factors related to the longitudinal physical activity trajectories of adolescent girls to determine the important predictors for physical activity. The Trial of Activity in Adolescent Girls (TAAG) Maryland site recruited participants at age 14 ( n = 566) and followed up with these girls at age 17 ( n = 553) and age 23 ( n = 442). Individual, social factors and perceived environmental factors were assessed by questionnaire; body mass index was measured at age 14 and age 17, and self-reported at age 23. Neighborhood factors were assessed by geographic information systems. The outcome, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) minutes in a day, was assessed from accelerometers. A mixture of linear mixed-effects models with double penalization on fixed effects and random effects was used to identify the intrinsic grouping of participants with similar physical activity trajectory patterns and the most relevant predictors within the groups simultaneously. Three clusters of participants were identified. Two hundred and forty participants were clustered as “maintainers” and had consistently low MVPA over time; 289 participants were clustered as “decreasers” who had decreasing MVPA over time; 39 participants were grouped as “increasers” and had increasing MVPA over time. Each of the three clustersmore »has its own cluster-specific factors identified using the clustering method, indicating that each cluster has unique characteristics.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 12, 2023
  9. Demidenko, Eugene (Ed.)
    When dealing with longitudinal data, linear mixed-effects models (LMMs) are often used by researchers. However, LMMs are not always the most adequate models, especially if we expect a nonlinear relationship between the outcome and a continuous covariate. To allow for more flexibility, we propose the use of a semiparametric mixed-effects model to evaluate the overall treatment effect on the hemodynamic responses during bone graft healing and build a prediction model for the healing process. The model relies on a closed-form expectation–maximization algorithm, where the unknown nonlinear function is estimated using a Lasso-type procedure. Using this model, we were able to estimate the effect of time for individual mice in each group in a nonparametric fashion and the effect of the treatment while accounting for correlation between observations due to the repeated measurements. The treatment effect was found to be statistically significant, with the autograft group having higher total hemoglobin concentration than the allograft group.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 5, 2023
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