ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
U.S. Spends Billions On Alternative Medicine
Acupuncture May Trigger Natural Painkiller
Higher Vitamin D Intake Could Cut Cancer Risk
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Studies Struggle to Gauge Glucosamine's Worth
Vitamin K Doesn't Slow Bone Loss
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
CANCER
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
CAREGIVING
Study of Everest Climbers Questions Oxygen Use
Tainted China Formula Caused High Rate of Kidney Stones in Kids
Falls Are Top Cause of Injury, Death Among Elderly
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
DIABETES
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
DIET, NUTRITION
B Vitamins Might Lower Stroke Risk
Low-Fat Diet Does Little to Alter Cholesterol Levels
Is Coffee Good or Bad for Your Health?
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Dementia Underestimated in Developing Countries
Short-Term Air Pollution Exposure May Damage DNA
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
EYE CARE, VISION
Thyroid Problems Boost Glaucoma Risk
When Gauging Age, the Eyes Have It
It's a Whole New Outlook for Cataract Patients
FITNESS
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Good Warm-Ups Could Halve Sports Injuries
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
You Can Get Great Exercise In The Garden
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Omega-6 Fatty Acids Can Be Good for You
Years of Heavy Smoking Raises Heart Risks
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
Working Intensely Early on May Help Autistic Kids
St. John's Wort Doesn't Work for ADHD
MEN'S HEALTH
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
MENTAL HEALTH
Heal Your LifeŽ Tips for Living Well
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
SENIORS
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
Any Old Cane Won't Do
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Calcium Helps Ward Off Colon Cancer
How Much Fish to Eat While Pregnant?
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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