Short Sleep in Infancy Linked to Childhood Overweight

April 8, 2008

Infants who sleep less than 12 hours per day may have an increased risk of becoming overweight when they reach preschool age, according to research published in the April issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

TUESDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- Infants who sleep less than 12 hours per day may have an increased risk of becoming overweight when they reach preschool age, according to research published in the April issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Elsie M. Taveras, M.D., of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in Boston, and colleagues assessed 915 children at ages 6 months, 1 year and 2 years, and used multivariate regression analyses to predict the independent effects of sleep duration on body mass index (BMI) at 3 years of age.

After adjusting for maternal education, income, prepregnancy BMI, marital status, smoking history and breastfeeding duration, and child's race/ethnicity, birth weight, six-month weight-for-length z score, daily television viewing and daily participation in active play, the researchers found that infants who slept less than 12 hours per day had a higher BMI z score, a higher sum of subscapular and triceps skinfold thicknesses, and an increased risk of overweight (odds ratio, 2.04).

"Strategies to improve sleep duration among young children may be an important component of behavioral interventions that promote childhood overweight prevention," the authors conclude. "Our findings suggest that clinicians and parents may wish to use evidence-based sleep hygiene techniques to improve sleep quality and perhaps increase sleep duration."

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