Special to The Washington Post
Mother’s exercise may keep baby’s weight down.
THE QUESTION Does exercise during pregnancy affect a baby’s birth weight?
THIS STUDY analyzed data on 36,869 women pregnant with one child. The infants’ average weight at birth was 8.1 pounds, and 4,033 newborns were considered overweight, at nine pounds or more.
Among women pregnant for the first time, those who had worked out at least three times a week during their second and third trimesters were 23 to 28 percent less likely to have an overweight baby than were those who did not exercise. A similar trend was noted among women who’d been pregnant before, but the results were not strong enough to be considered statistically significant. Exercise done before becoming pregnant did not affect a baby’s birth weight.
WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? Pregnant women, who should check with their doctor before starting an exercise regimen. Besides helping women feel better and prepare their bodies for childbirth, exercise has been shown by some studies to reduce risk for preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. Babies that are too big can raise the risk for childbirth complications, low Apgar scores (with higher scores indicating a healthier newborn) and possibly obesity later in life.
CAVEATS Data on exercise came from the women’s answers on questionnaires.
FIND THIS STUDY October issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
LEARN MORE ABOUT a healthy pregnancy at www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy and www.kidshealth.org/parent.