Pregnant women who exercise can significantly lower the risk of undergoing Caesarean sections and giving birth to large babies, a University of Alberta study has found.
Prenatal exercise has been suggested to be a means to prevent childhood obesity through a "normalization" in birth weight (ie. reducing the risk of having a large baby at birth). University of Alberta researchers conducted a meta-analysis to analyze 28 randomized control studies encompassing 5,322 women that looked at the influence of maternal exercise on baby outcomes.
"We found that women who exercised had a 31 per cent reduction in the risk of having a large baby without changing the risk of having a small baby or an earlier baby," said lead researcher Margie Davenport, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation. "Further, the risk of having a Caesarean section was reduced by 20 per cent." The findings, recently published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, are important because babies who are born large tend to be heavier as children and into adulthood.