A Mother’s Sleep and a Child’s Weight Gain

sleep-pregnancy

Mothers pass on all kinds of things to their offspring, from hair color and personality to–unfortunately–a predisposition for certain health problems. A new study published by sleep specialist David Gozal, MD, the Herbert T Abelson professor of pediatrics at the University of Chicago, once again linked some of these unfortunate inheritances to poor sleep.

Gozal and his colleagues found that poor-quality sleep during the third trimester of pregnancy can increase the odds of weight gain and metabolic abnormalities in offspring once they reach adulthood. The study, published online May 8, 2014, in the journal Diabetes, showed that mice who were born to mothers whose sleep was interrupted during pregnancy gained 10 percent more weight, had increased insulin resistance and more fat tissue than others:

“Disrupted sleep is a common problem during the final trimester of a pregnancy,” said study director, sleep specialist David Gozal, MD, the Herbert T Abelson professor of pediatrics at the University of Chicago. “For some women, sleep fragmentation, especially sleep apnea, can be profound. We wanted to devise a system that enabled us to measure the potential impact of fragmented sleep on the fetus, which is uniquely susceptible so early in life.”

Read more about the study in our Newsroom. Gozal, who is known as a pioneer in the study of childhood sleep problems, and the relationships between sleep disorders and neurobehavioral, cardiovascular, and metabolic disease, has also studied how fragmented sleep can accelerate cancer growth. Science Life spoke to him recently about the importance of regular, consistent sleep, and why you should treat it like a bank account.

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Khalyfa A., Mutskov V., Carreras A., Khalyfa A.A., Hakim F. & Gozal D. Sleep Fragmentation During Late Gestation Induces Metabolic Perturbations and Epigenetic Changes in Adiponectin Gene Expression in Male Adult Offspring Mice, Diabetes, DOI:

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