Category: Health

Imperial in the news: obese children

Rising obesity levels in children have led to an increase in hospital admissions for obesity-related conditions

Last month’s biggest story involving research at Imperial looked at the increase in children admitted to hospital with obesity-related conditions.

During the period studied there was a four-fold increase in admissions for children experiencing obesity-related conditions, from 872 in 2000 to 3806 in 2009.  Teenage girls with pregnancies complicated by obesity accounted for hospital admissions in 2009.

Surveys suggest that around 30 per cent of children aged 2-15 are overweight and up to 20 per cent are obese.

“The burden of obesity is usually thought to have its serious consequences in adulthood, but we now see it manifesting earlier, in childhood,” said Dr Sonia Saxena, from the School of Public Health at Imperial, who led the study.

Imperial in the news: surgery shock

Last week it was widely reported, following a study at Imperial, that elective surgery towards the end of the week had an increased risk of death for the patients.

Surgery towards the end of the week resulted in an increase in mortality rates

Operations on Fridays were 44 per cent more likely to result in death than those on Monday, reported the study that appeared in the British Medical Journal. However, the overall risk remained low; the average risk of death within 30 days of surgery was 0.67 per cent – just over 27,000 out of four million operation data recorded.

Imperial in the news: celebrity status

The claws of Kooteninchela deppi resemble Edward Scissorhands’ appendage

They may have starred together in the 2010 movie The Tourist, but you could be forgiven for thinking it far-fetched that Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp would be reunited via Imperial College London.

But last week that’s exactly what happened. Well, it’s sort of what happened. Following her public announcement that she had undergone a double mastectomy after finding out genetic tests gave her an 87 per cent chance of developing breast cancer, Jolie was the subject of much debate in the public sphere and cancer expert Professor Justin Stebbing (Surgery and Cancer) spoke with BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire about it.

Imperial in the news: bird flu is back

Professor Wendy Barclay (right) has spoken a lot about recent bird flu research and outbreaks

A recent outbreak of what is suspected to be a virulent strain of bird flu has appeared in China over the past few weeks, claiming the lives of at least 20 people it has been reported.

However, unlike previous strains of the virus which first came to wider attention in 2003 and has claimed over 500 lives worldwide, this new outbreak appears to have been found in some people who may not have had contact with birds.

Professor Wendy Barclay [Medicine] has been studying the disease and told Reuters: “The incubation time might be quite long, so visiting a market even 14 days before might have resulted in infection.

Imperial in the news: a cure for HIV?

Professor Jonathan Weber responded to the possibility of a cure for HIV

Yesterday, doctors at Johns Hopkins University in Mississippi announced that they had all-but cured a baby of HIV.

The child, who inherited the disease from her mother, was given anti-viral drugs as soon as she was diagnosed. After a few months the child had come off the intense regimen of medication and later she was shown that despite no longer taking the drugs, the virus could no longer be detected in her body.

Does this pave the way for a cure? Professor Jonathan Weber, Dr Hermione Lyall and Dr Sarah Fidler (all Medicine) contributed to a discussion on the BBC’s Newsnight programme yesterday.

Imperial in the news: sterile sperm

A sedate lifestyle shouldn’t affect fertility, claims Professor Lord Robert Winston

As February takes hold and it becomes harder to maintain the resolutions to lose weight and do more exercise, Professor Lord Robert Winston allayed the concerns of those fearing a return to a sedate lifestyle could impact their fertility.

The ‘Child of Our Time’ presenter, who is Professor of Science and Society at Imperial, explained in the Guardian that there is little scientific basis for claims that inactivity on a leather sofa or watching television would reduce the amount of sperm or eggs an adult produces. This is in response to a study of nearly 200 university students by researchers at Harvard stating otherwise, although it’s worth pointing out that no one claimed correlation implied causation.

Imperial in the news: asthma research

Hospital admissions for children fell 12.3 per cent in the first year of smoke-free legislation in England

This week has seen the publication of two important studies about asthma – one relating to the fall in the number of children being admitted to hospital with asthma since smoke-free legislation was introduced in England in 2007, and one on occupations where workers are likely to develop the disease.

The study about the reduction in hospital admissions for children was led by Dr Christopher Millet [School of Public Health] who was interviewed by the BBC. The story gained a lot of coverage, including the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Huffington Post, Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, and the Independent featured an editorial.

Imperial in the news: music and medicine

There are many similarities between performance in the operating theatre and on stage

An innovative collaboration between Professor Roger Kneebone [Surgery & Cancer] and Professor Aaron Williamson, of the Royal College of Music, explores the similarities between surgeons and musicians in performance.

Surgeons and musicians are both required to perform perfectly under pressure. Both go through routines in advance of their performance, which also closely match their mental preparations.

Professors Kneebone and Williamson discuss the parallels between the groups, including instruments, techniques and the theatres in which they perform, and the stress and tensions that they might be experiencing.

This documentary on BBC Radio 3 features the thoughts of junior surgeons and young cellists about how they get ready and focussed for their work, as well as what they consider during their performance and the distractions that they need to manage.

Imperial in the news: sibling rivalry

The battle for resources starts early in twins sharing a placenta

A new ‘cinematic MRI’ machine used at the Robert Steiner MR Unit at Imperial’s Hammersmith campus is being used instead of ultrasound to gain an even greater picture of fetal development in twins.

Importantly, it picks up changes in brain development that could indicate that one fetus is receiving more nutrients than the other. In cases of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), where the twins share a placenta rather than have one each, it can identify earlier whether there is a need for treatment that could save the lives of both fetuses.

Imperial in the news: childhood obesity calculator

Obesity likelihood can now be calculated from birth

Stories around child health consistently capture the attention of the public and press alike. A new study published in PLOS ONE that estimates the chances of children becoming obese has been picked up by a number of national and international media organisations.

The research, led by Professor Philippe Froguel and Professor Marjo-Riitta Jarvelin [both School of Public Health], has generated a formula whereby parents can predict the likelihood of their child becoming obese.

Outlets including the BBC, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Metro here in the UK led with the story prominently featuring on their health pages this morning, while international news agency Reuters and leading Canadian newspaper the Toronto Star also placed a special importance on the item.