According to a new study, pregnant women who exercise more during the first trimester may have a lower risk of developing gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes refers to diabetes diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy and can pose serious health problems as well as increased future risk for diabetes in both mother and child.
Samantha Ehrlich, assistant professor in the Department of Public Health at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and adjunct investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, said:
“We know that exercise is safe and beneficial for healthy pregnant women. These results show that exercise is helpful in avoiding gestational diabetes, though you might need to do a little bit more than currently recommended to enjoy that benefit.”
Data was analysed from the Pregnancy Environment and Lifestyle Study (PETALS), a longitudinal study that included a physical activity questionnaire from 2,246 pregnant members of Kaiser Permanente Northern California.
The women in the study were racially and ethnically diverse and of a wide range of pre-pregnancy weight classifications.
The results showed that exercising at least 38 minutes per day lowered the risk of gestational diabetes by 2.1 cases per 100 women and the risk of abnormal blood sugar by 4.8 cases per 100 women.
“We know that six to 10 women per 100 get gestational diabetes,” Ehrlich said. “If being more active could reduce that by two women per 100, that’s a clear benefit.”
Authors of the study suggest that the current recommendations, of 30 minutes of exercise per day, may need to be rethought to improve women’s chances of preventing gestational diabetes with exercise.
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