A new study has found that newborns who sleep at least eight hours a night, and have the time to stretch, eat, and exercise at least six hours per night are more likely to have a healthy birth.
The new research, conducted by the University of Chicago Medical Center and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the most frequent sleep problem babies had was anorexia, a condition that can cause constipation and weight loss.
Babies who were given the opportunity to stretch their bodies and be active had a 3.6-point increase in their odds of being born healthy, according to the researchers.
“We want to emphasize that babies need to have some opportunity to get a good night’s sleep,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrew S. Mazzarella, a neonatologist at the University Hospital of Chicago.
“We’re going to take advantage of the opportunity when we can.
The important thing is to give them enough time to get to that point.”
The researchers studied 1,500 babies born at the neonatal intensive care unit in Chicago during the study.
They were followed up for two years and measured their health status.
Of the babies who received a sleep restriction, a majority had anorexic or had obesity, with a third showing a combination of both disorders.
These infants also had poor weight gain and constipation, a common complaint among newborns.
They had a slightly higher risk of being premature or stillborn, and they had significantly higher risk for complications during delivery.
However, when the researchers looked at the babies given an opportunity to sleep, they found that babies who slept at least 8 hours per day were no more likely than the babies that didn’t sleep, to have anorexesia.
They also had better overall health and longer delivery.
“We’re trying to understand why babies get more trouble in the NICU,” said Mazzana.
“How much sleep are they getting, and how much sleep is the right amount?”
Sleep restriction was especially effective in babies who had an obesity disorder, he added.
“The babies that got this sleep restriction were no worse off for having this problem.”
The study also found that sleep restriction reduced the risk of birth complications such as infection and low birth weight, and reduced the chances of a premature birth.
But it didn’t make any difference whether the babies were born healthy or sick.
Researchers believe that babies born during a sleep deprivation period can’t fully recover from their birth and may be more prone to complications, Mazzarelli said.
The new study could help doctors diagnose sleep disorders in newborns earlier.
When infants have more sleep than normal, the body gets less oxygen and less nutrients from the mother’s bloodstream.
This can lead to an increase in the risk for birth complications.
The study found that infants who had sleep restriction had a significantly higher likelihood of having anorextia, a problem in which babies can’t breathe.
The study also looked at babies who were exposed to more than six hours of sleep a night and a higher risk, with an even higher risk than those who had slept at 8 hours.
“When we sleep too little, it can cause more problems than it solves,” said Dr. John A. Breslin, director of the neonatology unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“I think it’s an area of great potential to help the neonates.”
Mazzarella says he is excited about the study and wants to share it with other families who are trying to give their babies the best possible sleep at birth.
“Sleep restriction has really been an emerging area of medical science and it’s one that I want to be able to help in the study of this,” Mazzaresi said.
Mazzarello’s team hopes that his findings will help other doctors and neonatologists make the case for limiting sleep and increasing time spent with their newborns, as well as help doctors understand how sleep affects babies’ health.
The researchers will present their results at the American Society of Neonatology Annual Meeting this weekend.
(Source: American Society for Neonatological Association)