Women Who Exercise During Pregnancy Can Avoid Gestational Diabetes

Pregnant women who make it a point to exercise have a lower risk of developing gestational diabetes (GD), a condition that may cause negative health outcomes for mother and child both before and after the pregnancy.

Researchers from Spain analyzed data from 13 trials that involved more than 2,800 women, finding that physical activity during pregnancy could reduce gestational diabetes risk by more than 30 percent. Women who combined aerobic exercise, toning, strength and flexibility had the lowest risk for the condition.

"This careful analysis of previous studies shows a beneficial effect of exercise on healthy pregnant women who ordinarily did little or no exercise," said Mike Marsh, editor-in-chief of BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Reducing excessive weight gain

Exercise was also beneficial in reducing excessive weight gain in pregnant women, the authors found - even if the women didn't start an exercise routine until the second trimester of pregnancy.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, gestational diabetes can increase the baby's weight, which may lead to birth injuries or trauma in delivery. Other complications may include hypertension, pre-eclampsia or pre-term birth. Other research has show that GD may increase the child's future risk for obesity and autism, too.

“Exercise is not something to be feared during pregnancy," said Gema Sanabria-Martinez, lead author of the study. "The moderate levels of exercise used in these studies had significantly positive effects on health and were found to be safe for both mother and baby.”

Source: BJOG, U.S. National Library of Medicine
Image courtesy of Jomphong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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