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Exercise During Pregnancy Cuts Odds of Overweight Baby

Last Updated: September 24, 2009.

Regular exercise during pregnancy lowers the odds of giving birth to an excessively heavy baby, but exercise before pregnancy may not make a difference, according to a study published in the October issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

THURSDAY, Sept. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Regular exercise during pregnancy lowers the odds of giving birth to an excessively heavy baby, but exercise before pregnancy may not make a difference, according to a study published in the October issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Katrine Mari Owe, of the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo, and colleagues conducted a study of 36,869 singleton pregnancies lasting at least 37 weeks, using information from questionnaires given out at weeks 17 and 30 to assess mothers' exercise patterns. Excessive newborn weight was defined as above the 90th percentile.

In all, 4,033 (10.9 percent) of the newborns were deemed to have excessive birth weight, and among women who reported exercising at least three times a week there was an inverse relation to giving birth to a baby with excessive birth weight, the researchers discovered. The finding was similar for women who were already mothers and those who were giving birth for the first time. The researchers determined that regular exercise during pregnancy reduced the odds of excessive birth weight in newborns by 23 to 28 percent. Pre-pregnancy exercise levels did not have an impact on the odds of excessive birth weight for either group of women.

"Nonetheless, women exercising regularly before pregnancy are also more likely to continue their exercise programs during pregnancy," the authors write. "Based on this study, we cannot rule out that exercising regularly before pregnancy may also affect the upper extreme of the birth weight distribution."

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