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Cycle machines boost baby health

Tuesday April 6th, 2010

Women who are overweight or suffer from diabetes can help ensure their babies are a healthy weight by undertaking aerobic exercise, researchers reported yesterday.

Women with diabetes or obesity problems are at risk of giving birth to babies that are too large.

These babies in turn are likely to struggle with weight problems throughout their lives.

According to researchers in New Zealand, exercise not only helps but is also safe for mother and baby.

It's the latest study to suggest some kinds of exercise may help pregnant women.

The researchers studied aerobic exercise, ensuring that women were not using weights. One example is the use of exercise bikes.

They found that babies born to women who exercised were an average of 0.143 kg - a third of a pound - lighter than babies born to women who did not.

Some 84 new mothers took part in the research - with half of them undertaking 200 minutes of exercise a week.

The exercise made no difference to the weight of the pregnant women.

Normally one of the benefits of exercise is that it reduces insulin resistance - which can lead to diabetes - but the researchers said this did not happen with the pregnant women - and this was a good thing.

This was because insulin resistance in pregnancy is necessary to ensure nutrients are channelled to the baby.

The findings are to be published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Researcher Dr Paul Hofman, of the University of Auckland, said: "Our findings show that regular aerobic exercise alters the maternal environment in some way that has an impact on nutrient stimulation of foetal growth, resulting in a reduction in offspring birth weight.

"Given that large birth size is associated with an increased risk of obesity, a modest reduction in birth weight may have long-term health benefits for offspring by lowering this risk in later life."

"Exercise Training in Pregnancy Reduces Offspring Size without Changes in Maternal Insulin Sensitivity," JCEM May 2010

Tags: Australia | Child Health | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Fitness | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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