Tag Archives: Ege

Distance calculations are not plausible

Rompa et al. claim that

Asthma and atopy were inversely associated with presence of a farm within a radius of maximum 100m.

wich refers to their FIG 3

FIG 3 (click for zoom)
Original legend: Number of farms within a given radius was dichotomized for at least one farm in the radius versus no farms. Associations are calculated by logistic regression resulting in odds ratios (OR) with 95%- confidence intervals.

The authors probably want to say that a non farm child that lives within a smaller distance to a farm shows a stronger negative association. Unfortunately it is not clear from the methods how the categories have been exactly defined, including or excluding category borders? And why is the highest category of 1.000-10.000 excluded here? There is a negative association with asthma in ALL strata irrespective of distance – what is the reference? The increased atopy risk by a farm in a circle with 1.000m radius is never discussed. BTW I am also quite sure that this plot has been produced with some kind of drawing software and not with “R version 3.2.3” if you zoom into the picture.

For whatever reason the authors abandon the distance definition above in favor of some data-derived classification afterwards. Why?

[1] children living on a farm currently run by the family [2] children not living on a farm, but with regular contact to farms, meaning at least once a week for a period of 6 months minimum and [3] children without any contact to farms.

I have no idea what regular contact is. But lets have a look on FIG 2

FIG 2: also misaligned and implausible
Original legend: Distribution of environmental variables across exposure strata 1 = farm children, 2 = exposed non-farm children, 3 = non exposed non-farm children. Differences between the subgroups were statistically significant (p<0.01) except for ozone, altitude and distance to the next farm.

This is also not a facet_warp() as I would expect  from a R analysis but some manually cut & pasted figures where P<0.01 is contradicting the methods. FIG 2.9 basically says that the distance to the next farm is not different in groups of “farm exposure”.

The abstract

The environmental variables greenness, tree cover, soil sealing, altitude, air pollution differed not only between farm and non-farm children, but also between farm children with and without another farm nearby.

is therefore wrong (it maybe even trivial as farms of course have less soil sealing than villages). In any case, we are now trapped in a loop as according to Fig 1 the prevalence of asthma and atopy over the exposure strata should have been different.


Claim to fame of the hygiene hypothesis

The recent encyclopedia article about the hygiene hypothesis seems to be well written. At least on the first instance … in reality it is more a novel than a scientific review.

For many years already, the hygiene hypothesis has been called an outdated concept; various times it was revised and transformed, and finally it gave birth to novel hypotheses.

In other words, the hypothesis has been rejected for being wrong . Even many revisions did not change that. There seem to be only one proven fact – the obsession of some authors with hygiene and nouvel Rousseauism.

Anyway, the hygiene hypothesis has promoted radical rethinking of infections, microbiota, and coevolution of mankind and microbes.

There is nothing radical in backward thinking. We still carry tons of microbes, freezer and antibiotics only did some qualitative but not so much quantitative changes,

With the advent of novel high-throughput sequencing technologies the human microbiome, which is sometimes called the ‘forgotten organ,’ has attracted much attention and is currently being implemented in a wider concept of self-foreign relationship, which may even include recognition of the nonmicrobial nonself as a vital stimulus to a well-developing immune system.

  1. So the interest is technology and not science driven.
  2. The microbiome is not an organ.
  3. The hype is already over.
  4. The Self is not defined by any bacterium.
  5. Most bacteria are excreted and not vital stimulus.

Given the many molecule classes regulating immune functions across individuals such as short RNAs, the hygiene hypothesis may eventually come back as a surprising explanation of the phenomena evoked by crowding, day care, sibship size, orofecally transmitted diseases, and respiratory infections.

Why that?
A comeback of the hygiene hypothesis by short RNA?
The listed phenomena are not intrinsically related, but are occuring only at the same time scale.

Even the old birth order effect might be rediscovered as epigenetic programming someday. Admittedly, these notions are entirely hypothetical, but without hypotheses, proven or not, science hardly advances.

So if David Strachan’s birth order effect would be really caused by  epigenetic programming – why would that be related to hygiene at all?

Science is is not so much about proven or unproven but about reasonable and non reasonable hypotheses.