Pregnancy Exercise Can Lower the Risk of Childhood Obesity and Diabetes by Just 20 Minutes a Day


Pregnancy Exercise Can Lower the Risk of Childhood Obesity and Diabetes by Just 20 Minutes a Day

Even for those who are socially disadvantaged, physical activity during pregnancy is safe and beneficial, according to a Brazilian study. To prevent childhood obesity and diabetes, researchers discovered that the World Health Organization's (WHO) recommendation of at least 150 minutes of exercise per week was linked to a decrease in the baby's birth weight without raising the risk that the baby would be born with less weight than would be expected based on gestational age.

The results were just released in the PLoS ONE publication. The research was carried out as a part of the "Maternal and Child Health in Acre: Birth Cohort in the Western Brazilian Amazon (MINA Brazil)" initiative by researchers from the School of Public Health of the University of So Paulo (FSP-USP) and has been ongoing since 2015.

The project's principal investigator is Marly Augusto Cardoso, a professor in the Nutrition Department at FSP-USP. "Previous studies investigated how leisure-time physical activity during pregnancy affects birth weight and other outcomes, but there was a lack of prospective research on the topic in low- and middle-income countries," she said.

Racial differences, according to Cardoso, might influence the outcomes. Compared to past studies, this one's participants self-identified as something other than White by nearly 80%. Furthermore, several characteristics of underdeveloped places might play a part. For example, newborn weight concerns in wealthy countries are mainly focused on overweight infants, which is just one extreme, whereas, in low-income communities, mother and child malnutrition is the main issue and can cause low birth weight. In addition, women in developing countries frequently exercise more at work or home. Does leisure-time physical exercise enhance the percentage of small-for-gestational-age newborns in this situation? Cardoso enquired.

She continued by pointing out that both extremes—being both underweight and overweight at birth—were represented in the MINA Brazil research sample. This is the first prospective study, as mentioned in the paper, to examine the effect of leisure-time physical activity on birth weight in a middle-income country with a majority of non-white women.

 Data gathering

The FSP-USP group's study population is located in Cruzeiro do Sul, a city in Acre state with about 88,000 residents. Between February 2015 and January 2016, pregnant women in the town were observed, and their babies were evaluated with the families' permission. The participants underwent physical examinations and completed questionnaires on a variety of subjects, including lifestyle, child nutrition, gut microbiota, and malaria infection. With this cohort, "we want to explore several questions," Cardoso stated.

The researchers concentrated on information on leisure-time physical activity for the 500 volunteers covered by the project for this paper. The pregnant women provided information about the quantity of exercise they had done in the second and third trimesters before being weighed and divided into groups based on whether they had completed the minimum 150 minutes of weekly exercise that was advised. At delivery, newborns were weighed.

Only 7.3 percent of women in the first trimester and 9.5 percent in the second engaged in the minimal amount of leisure activity that is advised. The percentage was 42% before pregnancy. Unfortunately, Cruzeiro does Sul is not unique in this regard. Even now, a lot of doctors advise relaxation during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, according to the article's initial author, Mara Malta. Malta teaches in the graduate collective health program at the Catholic University of Santos (UNISANTOS) in the state of Sao Paulo. However, there is substantial evidence to support the advantages of leisure-time physical activity for both mother and fetus during pregnancy.

Sufficient weight

In the third trimester of pregnancy, the practice of engaging in at least 150 minutes of physical exercise per week was associated with a birth weight reduction of 137.9 g on average. The percentage of underweight kids born to these women did not increase as a result, though. This could imply that exercise reduces the likelihood of having a baby who is overweight without going too far in the other direction, according to Malta.

The article also concludes that the moms' unnaturally high prenatal weight increase contributed to this consequence. In other words, the outcome was likely partially influenced by the fact that exercise helps keep expectant mothers from becoming overweight or obese. Given that pregnant woman who gains more weight typically have larger kids, effective weight management of the mother through physical exercise may somewhat (but not entirely) account for the babies' lower birth weight.

It had a minor mediation impact, according to Malta. Previous studies revealed that the link persisted after controlling for maternal body mass index (BMI), indicating that maternal weight is only partially responsible for the relationship between physical activity and birth weight.

For women who engaged in the recommended level of leisure-time physical activity throughout the second trimester of pregnancy, the results were different. Our study confirms the importance of health professionals encouraging expectant mothers to exercise, especially if they tend to gain weight throughout the pregnancy, according to Cardoso. We must decrease the percentage of pregnant women who are sedentary, yet a prenatal obstetric examination is necessary since rest is sometimes necessary.

Limitations and prospective goals

MINA Brazil is a member of The Gestational Weight Gain (GWG) Pooling Project Consortium, a worldwide partnership funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In low- and middle-income nations, the effect of GWG on mother and child health is examined.

Few of the cohort's pregnant women engaged in the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity each week, making it impossible to determine if exercise had any impact on birth weight or other outcomes. The researchers were also unable to determine precisely how the amount of time spent engaging in physical activity interacts with its advantages.

Additionally, pregnant women residing in rural areas were not included in the study sample; they might have displayed other anomalies. The researchers state in the study that additional research should be done in these areas. To gauge the medium- to long-term impacts of physical activity, researchers will keep track of these women and their kids. The initiative will simultaneously look into several facets of health and lifestyle, such as recurrent malaria exposure, which prior research has shown to raise the risk of anemia in a baby's early years.

Previous Post Next Post