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Health stories in the news — week ending 13th February 2015

NCOR’s Carol Fawkes gives us a round-up of osteopathically-relevant health stories that have been in the news this past week.

The effect of aging on sleep requirements

The National Sleep Foundation in the USA convened an expert multidisciplinary panel to determine recommendations concerning sufficient sleep durations. Recommendations were based on an extensive review of the scientific literature of healthy populations, and recognition that sleep requirements vary with age. A summary of the recommendations is given in the table below:

Age Recommended sleep requirements based on the evidence review
Newborn babies (0-3 months) 14-17 hours
Infants (4-11 months) 12-15 hours
Toddlers (1-2 years) 11-14 hours
Pre-schoolers (3-5 years) 10-13 hours
School age children (6-13 years) 9-11 hours
Teenagers (14-17 years) 8-10 hours
Young adults (18-25 years) 7-9 hours
Adults (26-64 years) 7-8 hours

Further information concerning this study can be found in: Hirshkowitz M, Whiton K, Albert SM, et al. National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary Sleep Health: Journal of the National Sleep Foundation DOI:

Smart insulin

The World Health Organisation estimates that over 347 million people worldwide have diabetes. In the UK, the figure is estimated to be 2.9 million people ( Research into the management of diabetes by administration of insulin is ongoing; work published by Chou et al this week described the findings of an animal study involving a synthetic insulin derivative. The study describes the long-lasting and glucose responsive activity of the synthetic insulin. The findings were encouraging but human trials have yet to begin. Further information concerning this study can be found at: Chou DH, Webber MJ, Tang BC, et al. Glucose-responsive insulin activity by covalent modification with aliphatic phenylboronic acid conjugates.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Feb 9. pii: 201424684. [Epub ahead of print]

The Dynamics of Aging

The population demographics nationally and internationally are changing rapidly. The number of people in England aged 50 years and over increased from 16.56 million in 2002 to 18.65 million in 2012. The proportion of people aged 80 years and over has increased from 4.3 to 4.7%. This report based on the findings of the English Longitudinal study of aging identifies a range of facts concerning the health status of the population. The report identifies that in 2012 serious illness was reported in 13.6% people aged 50 and over compared with 15.8% in 2002. In the 60-64 year age group, 7.7% reported cancer, dementia, Parkinson’s Disease or stroke compared with 13.8% in 2002. In the 65-69 age group, 11.7% of people reported a serious illness compared with 17.2% in 2002.

Further findings from the study can be found at: Banks J, Nazroo J, Steptoe A. Wave 6. The Dynamics of Ageing Evidence from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing 2002 – 2012.

Risk factors for acute low back pain

This study investigated a range of transient risk factors for the onset of acute low back pain among a sample of 999 patients. A range of issues were identified with which osteopaths will be familiar from patients’ reports. Risk factors included being distracted during an activity or task, a manual task with an awkward posture, a manual task with a heavy load, a slip, trip or fall in the 2 hours prior to onset of the pain, and fatigue. The risk of developing back pain was reported to be greatest between 7-00am and 12-00noon.

Further details about the study can be read in: Steffens D, Ferreira ML, Latimer J, et al. What triggers an episode of acute low back pain? A case-crossover study. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2015 Feb 9. doi: 10.1002/acr.22533. [Epub ahead of print].