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Am Fam Physician. 2007;75(11):1613


According to results from a National Sleep Foundation poll, 60 percent of American women get enough sleep only a few nights each week, and 67 percent frequently have problems sleeping. Although women of all ages experience sleep problems, working mothers and single working women are more likely than other women to have been told by a physician that they have a sleep disorder. Among stay-at-home mothers, 74 percent have insomnia at least a few nights per week; 59 percent often wake up feeling unrefreshed; and 9 percent sleep with a child or infant, adding to their nightly sleep problems. To stay awake, 65 percent of all women drink caffeinated beverages, and 37 percent of women drink three or more of these beverages every day. This lack of sleep affects every aspect of these women's lives, leaving them stressed out, late for work, and with little time for their friends and partners. (National Sleep Foundation, March 6, 2007)


“Book It,” a program sponsored by Pizza Hut, rewards 22 million young readers each year with free personal pan pizzas. Recently, the program has been under scrutiny from experts who believe it promotes poor eating habits among children. Its advocates claim that the program encourages children to read books instead of playing video games and promotes togetherness because family members usually accompany the winner to the restaurant to claim his or her prize. However, the incentive program may not be much of a value at all, say its opponents, because children may see reading as simply a way to win a pizza, and they may have less interest in reading once the incentive is gone. Some educators, however, believe the positive effects of promoting reading among children outweigh the possible risks of the program. (MSNBC. com, March 2, 2007)


Air bags may be responsible for the increase in ankle and foot injuries among persons involved in motor vehicle collisions, suggest members of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Since 1998, when the federal government made dual front air bags a requirement in cars, drivers in air-bag equipped cars have had more than 17,600 lower-extremity injuries per year. One third of those were foot and ankle injuries. Although many patients with this type of trauma eventually recover and lead active lifestyles, they may endure months or years of rehabilitation and face multiple surgeries. However, the president of the organization notes that without seat belts and airbags, these patients most likely would have died from head trauma or other upper-body injuries. (Newswise, March 14, 2007)


Memories may be only a sniff away, according to a study published in Science. Researchers asked 74 volunteers to play board games that tested memory recall by matching pairs of objects or cards. During game play, participants smelled the scent of roses. They were then asked to sleep in a magnetic resonance imaging tube, and some were exposed to the same rose scent during sleep. When the participants were tested the next day, those who smelled the roses during sleep remembered 97.2 percent of the card pairs on average compared with 86 percent among those who did not smell the roses during sleep. Scent improved learning only when the participants were exposed to the fragrance during slow-wave sleep. This is because the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain associated with learning, was activated when the volunteers smelled the roses during slow-wave sleep. (Science, March 9, 2007)


According to research published in Human Reproduction, pregnant women who eat a lot of beef (i.e., more than seven meals a week that contain beef) may have sons with low sperm counts. Men whose mothers reported eating the most beef had sperm counts 24.3 percent lower than those whose mothers did not consume as much beef. Eighteen percent of the men whose mothers ate the most beef had sperm counts considered subfertile by the World Health Organization. The mother's consumption of other meats and the father's consumption of any meat, including beef, did not appear to have the same effect on sperm concentration. (Hum Reprod, [in press])

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