The Science of Stuttering

VP Biden: Portrait shoot by Andrew "Andy" Cutraro. 459 EEOB Studio

Credit: White House

Stuttering is a speech disorder that’s affected some very famous people, including King George VI, actress Marilyn Monroe, and, believe it or not, even Vice President Joe Biden.

About 5% of children stutter, but many like the Vice President outgrow the disorder.

About 1% of adults stutter. That’s about 3 million people in the United States and 60 million worldwide.

Until recently, the cause of most stuttering was a mystery. However, researchers at the NIH’s National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders have identified several genes involved in inherited forms of stuttering and are busy looking for additional clues that may open new avenues for treatment. Find out more about what science is doing to help.

Getting Your Snooze On

Photo of a young boy, sleeping.

Credit: Bijal Trivedi

Have trouble sleeping? If so, you’re not alone. At least 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders, and another 20 million have occasional problems. Many more (including me) just don’t seem to find enough hours in the day and night to get adequate sleep.

Lack of sleep has been linked to a variety of health conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. Sleep deprivation can also affect alertness and reflexes. And that can be lethal—tired drivers cause an estimated 100,000 motor vehicle accidents and 1,500 vehicle-related deaths each year.

So, how much sleep do you really need? While there’s a lot of individual variation based on age, health status, and genetic factors, average daily sleep needs are:

Babies 16 to 18 hours
Preschoolers 11 to 12 hours
School-age children 10 hours
Teens 9 to 10 hours
Adults 7 to 8 hours

And a special note for expectant parents: women often need several extra hours of sleep during the first three months of pregnancy.

If you’d like to test your sleep I.Q., check out this online quiz.

And visit the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research to learn more about sleep, and what NIH research is doing to better understand its effects on health and behavior.