Background: We have previously shown in a randomised controlled trial that moderate-intensity exercise over the last 20 weeks of gestation in healthy nulliparous women led to a birth weight reduction of approximately 250 g.
Objective and hypotheses: We aimed to assess the long-term effects of exercise in pregnancy on anthropometry and body composition in mothers and offspring 7 years after the intervention. We hypothesized that women who exercised in pregnancy would have lower adiposity than control mothers, and that children born to exercisers would be leaner than controls.
Method: Of the initial 84 women and their offspring who participated in the randomised controlled trial, follow-up data were available on 57 mothers (33 exercisers, 24 controls) and 57 children. On average, assessments were carried out 7.6 years post intervention. Mothers and children underwent assessments of anthropometry and body composition (DXA scans).
Results: There were no differences in maternal outcomes between exercisers and controls. However, compared to pre-pregnancy, weight (−4.3 kg; P=0.006) and BMI (−1.56 kg/m2; P=0.008) were reduced among exercisers, but total body fat was reduced in both groups (Exerciser =−4.2%; Control =−3.2%). At a mean age of 7.6 years, girls exposed to antenatal exercise had greater percentage body fat (P=0.028) and increased abdominal adiposity (P=0.019) than controls. Anthropometry and body composition were similar among exerciser and control boys, although boys of exercisers had higher diastolic blood pressure (P=0.041).
Conclusion: There was a reduction in adiposity in both groups of mothers, but a positive effect was more marked amongst exercisers, who were also significantly lighter and leaner compared to pre-pregnancy. However, the data suggest that the exercise intervention may be associated with adverse effects in the offspring of both sexes. Larger follow-up studies are required to investigate the long-term effects of exercise in pregnancy.
10 - 12 Sep 2016
European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology