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Recent research: lifestyle - five papers on sleep, exercise & stress management

Here are five papers on lifestyle and the benefits of making healthy choices.  The first by Cohen et al on sleep habits and susceptibility to the common cold, showed increased risk of developing a cold after infection for those with shorter sleep duration.  Interestingly the increased risk was even greater for those with poor sleep efficiency.  Sleep efficiency is calculated by dividing the time spent asleep by the time spent in bed trying to sleep.  The Good Knowledge section of this website contains useful information on assessing and treating sleep difficulties.

Organization of teratology information specialists (OTIS)

Teratology is the study of the effects that drugs, medications, chemicals and other exposures may have on the unborn child during pregnancy.  Particulary when a mother is taking a medication that is helping her stay well, it can be a difficult decision whether or not to stop taking the medication because of a possible risk to the fetus.  This decision is made harder because we know that if a pregnant woman becomes unwell, for example with depression, this too risks damaging the fetus, so it's not necessarily the case that stopping medication is going to be in the unborn baby's best interest.

In this situation, having access to up to date, expert information can be crucially important.  I came across a helpful website today - OTIS (Organization of Teratology Information Specialists) - that provides exactly this.  Although the organization is based in the US and Canada, there is much that is useful on the website. 

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