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Expert Advice

Work Hours for Mums Affect Sleep & BMIs for Kids

A new study shows that children of mothers who work full-time get sleep and have higher BMIs

Only 18% of preschoolers sleep the recommended 11-12 hours each night.
As if mums need something else to feel guilty about, but new research has come out which is sure to weigh heavily on mums' shoulders.
A link between mothers' employment and their preschoolers' BMI has been found by researchers.
The study looked at links between mothers' employment status and their children's weight. The impact of mothers' jobs on their children's sleep, dietary habits, the amount of time TV they watched and family mealtime routines was studied.
The study was published in Sleep Medicine and followed 247 mother-child pairs over one year.
The children, who ranged from 3 to 5 years old, were weighed, measured and had their BMI calculated at the beginning of the study and then one year later.
Children whose mothers worked full-time got fewer hours of sleep than children whose mothers worked less than 20 hours per week. The children of women who worked full-time also tended to have higher BMIs at their second weigh-in.
The study also found that only 18% of the preschoolers were sleeping the recommended 11 to 12 hours each night.
The kids studied got about 9.6 hours of sleep each night on average. The researchers found that with each extra hour of sleep that a child had their BMI decreased by 6.8% at their second weigh-in.
This shows a clear link between children's sleep and their weight. "We looked at nighttime sleep in particular, because studies show that the amount of nighttime sleep matters for regulating weight," said Professor Liechty, the studies co-author.
"We think that it might be the more hours that mothers are working, the less time they have, and there may be some sort of tradeoff going on, 'Do I spend quality time with my child or do we get to bed early?'" Dr Speirs, lead author said. "And then in the morning, when mothers leave for work, their children also wake up early to get to day care."
With this new research and the our already loaded plates with being working mums, it sounds like there's an extra factor for us to consider for our kids. It's no easy task being a mother and working outside the home, but this study highlights the need for mothers to additionally consider their children's health when choosing to full-time work.
If only fathers had these big decisions to make when choosing how to juggle their families and careers.

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