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Lack of sleep in infancy linked to childhood overweight
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Infants who sleep an average of less than 12 hours per day may have an increased risk for being overweight in childhood, said a study Monday in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Investigators studied 915 infants by asking their mothers how many hours the baby slept in a 24-hour period, including naps when they were at 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years.

After subtracting the factors of birth weight, the mother's age, maternal characteristics, body mass, breast feeding duration and other variables, they found 9 percent of children who slept an average of less than 12 hours per day when they were infants were overweight at age 3.

The investigators also observed the risk of being overweight was more apparent in children who also watched more than two hours of television a day.

This is the first study to report an association between infant sleep time and children's being overweight, said Dr. Elsie M. Taveras, with the Obesity Prevention Program at Harvard Medical School in Boston, who led the study.

Previous research has shown an association between short sleep duration and obesity in older children, adolescents and adults.

Taveras advised that mothers should practice good sleep hygiene techniques to help babies sleep more.

"No TV in the bedroom, no caffeinated drinks and so on. Getting a good night's sleep is not just to be at our best the next day; it's really to assure good health," she said.

(Agencies via Xinhua News Agency April 8, 2008)

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