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Too Little Sleep Leads to Too Much Weight for Kids
Date:4/7/2008

And some parents may unsuspectingly contribute to their child's sleep problems, researchers say

MONDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- Babies who get less than 12 hours of sleep a day face twice the risk of being overweight as preschoolers.

And, some parents may inadvertently contribute to their child's sleep problems by taking steps intended to soothe the child that, in reality, lead to disrupted sleep.

That's the conclusion of two reports in April's special issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, which is devoted to children and sleep.

"The combination of too little sleep and too much TV is associated with markedly elevated risk of obesity," explained Dr. Elsie M. Taveras, an assistant professor of ambulatory care and prevention at Harvard Medical School and lead author of the first study.

For the study, Taveras and her colleagues collected data on 915 children whose mothers reported on their child's sleep habits during the first two years of life. Using this information, researchers were able to determine how much sleep the children had each day between 6 months and 2 years of age.

On average, the children slept 12.3 hours a day. When the children reached 3 years of age, 83 were overweight. The researchers found that 3-year-olds who slept less than 12 hours a day as infants weighed more for their age and sex, compared with children who slept 12 hours a day or more as babies.

Also, babies who watched two or more hours of television a day had a 16 percent increased risk of being overweight, compared to a 1 percent risk for babies who didn't watch TV, Taveras said.

"The combination of low sleep and high TV might be acting independently to be a higher risk for obesity," Taveras said. The explanation may trace to hormones that control appetite, she added.

In the second study, Valerie Simard, of the Hopital du Sacre-Coeur de Montreal and t
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