ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of Head, Neck Cancer Treatments
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Safe Toys for Dogs
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Study Examines How Rheumatoid Arthritis Destroys Bone
New Clues to How Fish Oils Help Arthritis Patients
Pain More a Cause of Arthritis Than a Symptom
CANCER
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Some Spices Cut Cancer Risk That Comes With Grilled Burgers
More Cancer Tests Mean More False-Positive Results
CAREGIVING
When the Caregiver Becomes the Patient
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
Rapid Infant Weight Gain Linked to Childhood Obesity
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
DIABETES
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
DIET, NUTRITION
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
TV Food Ads Promote Bad Diets
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Controversial Chemical Lingers Longer in the Body
Hurricane Threats: Time to Batten Down the Hatches
Gene Mutation May Cause Some Cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder
EYE CARE, VISION
When Gauging Age, the Eyes Have It
Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness
Omega-3 Foods May Lower Eye Disease Risk
FITNESS
Exercise Guards White Blood Cells Against Aging
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
Keep Fire Safety in Mind as You Celebrate
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
A Little Chocolate May Do the Heart Good
Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Quick Orthopedic Repair Can Save Young Shoulders
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
MEN'S HEALTH
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
MENTAL HEALTH
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
SENIORS
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Simple Carbs Pose Heart Risk for Women
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
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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