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Mass. General study links chronic sleep loss to childhood obesity

Chronic sleep loss
and childhood obesity

Children who consistently receive less than the recommended hours of sleep during infancy and early childhood are more likely to be obese at age 7, a new study from MassGeneral Hospital for Children found.

Researchers interviewed the mothers of 1,046 Massachusetts children about their youngsters’ day- and nighttime sleep habits at
6 months, 3 years, and 7 years old. The mothers also filled out a survey nearly every year of their child’s life. The researchers assigned sleep scores to the children based on their reported sleep duration over time. At age 7, the children were examined for their height, weight, and body and abdominal fat.

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Children who had the lowest sleep scores were more likely to be obese compared with those who had higher sleep scores.

Unlike previous studies which have found a link between childhood obesity and one particular period of insufficient sleep during infancy or early childhood, this study suggests that consistently inadequate sleep over time may increase the risk of obesity.

BOTTOM LINE: Children who consistently receive less than the recommended hours of sleep during infancy and early childhood are more likely to be obese at age 7.

CAUTIONS: The study relied on mothers’ reports of their child’s sleep habits so the findings may not be accurate. The findings do not prove that inadequate sleep causes childhood obesity.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Pediatrics, May 19 online

Infertile men and risk of early death

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Men who are infertile because of poor semen quality may be at greater risk of dying early than men with normal semen, according to a study from Stanford University.

Researchers looked at records from two medical centers of nearly 12,000 men ages 20 to 50 who were evaluated for infertility between 1989 and 2011. The researchers were able to get detailed data on the men’s semen quality, including the volume, sperm count, movement, and shape. They then matched some of the patients to their death records and found that the more problems that were detected in the semen, the higher the likelihood of death within eight years following their evaluation.

Men who had two or more problems with their semen were more than twice as likely to die during the follow-up period compared with those with normal semen, the study found.

Although only 69 men died during the studied period, the findings suggest that infertility may be linked to additional health problems that may increase the risk of death for some men. Overall, however, men who were evaluated for infertility had a lower rate of death compared with the general population, the authors wrote.

BOTTOM LINE: Men who are infertile because of poor semen quality may be at greater risk of dying earlier than men with normal semen.

CAUTIONS: The study was limited to data of patients from two medical centers so the findings may not apply to a wider group.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Human Reproduction, May 16 online

LARA SALAHI

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