Research Roundup: Sanitation access linked to child health; Female Steller sea lions breed at their birthplaces; New tool automatically identifies overdue datasets

Research Roundup: Sanitation access linked to child health; Female Steller sea lions breed at their birthplaces; New tool automatically identifies overdue datasets

Sanitation access linked to child health

Around 1 billion people lack basic sanitation access, such as latrines, subjecting them to increased fecal contamination. This increases the risk of transmission of diseases, including parasitic worms. A meta-analysis of health survey data published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases found that increasing community-level sanitation access decreases the chances of stunting and anemia in young children, with the greatest gains in child health being made when communities achieve universal sanitation access. The findings provide a strong incentive to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal of eliminating open defecation by 2030.

Female Steller sea lions return to their birthplace to breed

Steller sea lions are the largest of all sea lions, with males weighing up to 2,500 pounds (1,120 kilograms). Researchers monitored the movements of 369 Alaskan females over 15 years, and found in a study published in PLOS ONE that they tended to breed at the rookeries where they themselves were born, with fewer than 3 percent switching rookeries between years. The results suggest that females’ knowledge of the site and of neighboring females may bring them back to their birthplaces. The information may prove useful in designing conservation strategies for this near-threatened species.

New tool automatically identifies overdue scientific datasets

Researchers may forget to tell online repositories to make their data public upon publication of a paper. A new open-source tool, Wide-Open, discussed in PLOS Biology, uses text mining of published articles to detect dataset references and identifies if the dataset has not yet been made public. This automatic identification of overdue datasets should help to enforce open data policies.

 

Image Credit: Captain Budd Christman, NOAA Corps, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce.

Research Articles:

Larsen DA, Grisham T, Slawsky E, Narine L (2017) An individual-level meta-analysis assessing the impact of community-level sanitation access on child stunting, anemia, and diarrhea: Evidence from DHS and MICS surveys. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 11(6): e0005591. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0005591

Hastings KK, Jemison LA, Pendleton GW, Raum-Suryan KL, Pitcher KW (2017) Natal and breeding philopatry of female Steller sea lions in southeastern Alaska. PLoS ONE 12(6): e0176840. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0176840

Grechkin M, Poon H, Howe B (2017) Wide-Open: Accelerating public data release by automating detection of overdue datasets. PLoS Biol 15(6): e2002477. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2002477

Author

Beth works at PLOS as Journal Media Manager. She read Natural Sciences, specializing in Pathology, at the University of Cambridge before joining PLOS in 2013. She feels fortunate to be able to read and write about the exciting new research published by PLOS.

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