ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Soybean Chemicals May Reduce Effects of Menopause
Acupuncture Eases Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Returning to the Road Tricky After Injury
Fruits and Veggies May Strengthen Bones
In Elderly Women, Hip Fractures Often Follow Arm Breaks
CANCER
Healthy Behaviors Slow Functional Decline After Cancer
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
CAREGIVING
Weekend Admission May Be Riskier for GI Bleeding
Timing May Matter in Organ Donation Decisions
Omega-3 Fatty Acid May Help 'Preemie' Girls' Brains
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
DIABETES
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating Free Range
Myrrh May Lower High Cholesterol
Eating Less May Slow Aging Process
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
U.S. Diet Needs Heart-Felt Overhaul
Gene Explains How High-Fructose Diets Lead to Insulin Resistance
Arsenic in Drinking Water Raises Diabetes Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Just Like Skin, Eyes Can 'Burn' in Strong Sun
Half of U.S. Adults Lack 20/20 Vision
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
FITNESS
You Can Get Great Exercise In The Garden
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Pesticides and How to Affordably Eat Organic or Reduce Pesticide Consumption
Even Young Kids Can Learn CPR
Eating More Soy May Be Good For Your Lung Function
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Cherry-Enriched Diet Cut Heart Risks in Rats
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Combo Treatment Eases Wheezing in Babies
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
MEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
MENTAL HEALTH
Positive Brain Changes Seen After Body-Mind Meditation
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
SENIORS
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
Money May Matter, Health-Wise, in Old Age
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
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Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat

FRIDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- New moms who can't zip up their pre-pregnancy jeans might not be catching enough zzzs.

Getting a good night's sleep, in fact, may be just as important as diet and exercise for shedding baby weight.

One study of new mothers found that those who slept five or fewer hours a day six months after giving birth were three times as likely to hold onto those extra pounds as were women who got seven or more hours of sleep.

Short sleep duration "stood out as an independent risk factor" for weight retention, said Erica P. Gunderson, a research scientist and epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., who worked on the study.

For many women, postpartum weight retention is a serious issue because it can lead to long-term weight gain. Some studies show that up to 20 percent of women retain at least 11 pounds at six to 18 months after giving birth, Finnish researchers reported.

Lifestyle factors that lead to postpartum weight retention -- including a woman's diet, physical activity and sleep patterns -- have not been well studied, researchers report. But as every bleary-eyed new mother knows, slumber is frequently disrupted or cut short in the first year after a baby's birth.

"Sleep deprivation can cause changes in the levels of hormones involved in appetite regulation," explained Dr. Sirimon Reutrakul, a clinical associate in medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

"Keep in mind, though, that there are multiple factors involved in causing postpartum women to sleep less," she said. "These include just having a newborn, having other small children at home, possible postpartum depression, illness of the newborns, if any, work, etcetera," she said.

In Gunderson's study, the sleep and weight retention patterns of 940 Massachusetts women were analyzed. A year after giving birth, 124 of the women had retained 11 or more of the pounds they had put on during their pregnancy.

Short sleep duration was associated with a threefold higher risk of substantial weight retention, when compared with women who got seven hours of sleep. How long a woman breast-fed, however, was not a significant factor.

Dr. Truls Ostbye, a professor and vice chairman of research in the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Duke University Medical Center, is currently leading a study designed to promote weight loss in overweight women after childbirth. Preliminary data from that study show that "women who sleep less at six weeks lose less weight from six weeks to 12 months," Ostbye said.

But the relationship between sleep and weight loss isn't that simple. After adjusting for the fact that heavier women lose less weight and sleep less, "the effect of sleep on weight loss nearly goes away," he said.

"The relationship between obesity and sleep is there," he added, "but it is as likely that less sleep is a result of obesity as the other way around."

Advising women to get more sleep may not get to the root of their sleep-deprivation problem, Reutrakul said, "although stressing the importance of a good night's sleep is a good idea."

SOURCES: Erica P. Gunderson, Ph.D., research scientist and epidemiologist, Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, Calif.; Sirimon Reutrakul, M.D., clinical associate, medicine, Section of Endocrinology, University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago; Truls Ostbye, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., professor and vice chairman, research, Department of Community and Family Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.; Nutrition Journal; American Journal of Preventive Medicine; American Journal of Epidemiology