Skip to content

    Health & Pregnancy

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Exercising Moms-to-Be May Have Less-Chubby Babies

    This could benefit newborns later in life, researcher suggests

    WebMD News from HealthDay

    By Amy Norton

    HealthDay Reporter

    WEDNESDAY, July 9, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Babies born to mothers who exercise in late pregnancy may enter the world with a little less body fat, a new study finds.

    Researchers said that could be a good thing, since extra fat at birth could continue into childhood and beyond. But the long-term health implications, if any, are not known yet.

    "Body composition at birth is important," said Dr. Dana Dabelea, the senior researcher on the study and an associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Public Health.

    "Two babies can be born at the same weight," Dabelea said, "but have different amounts of fat mass and lean mass."

    Normally, a newborn's tiny body is mainly composed of the internal organs, bones and lean tissue -- with most of the "baby fat" coming later, Dabelea explained. So if exercise in late pregnancy does trim a bit of newborn fat, that could be a positive effect -- as long as it doesn't harm fetal growth and development, Dabelea said.

    And that seemed to be true in this study, her team reports in the August issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

    Looking at more than 800 mother-newborn pairs, the researchers found that when mothers exercised regularly in the third trimester, their babies were born with less fat, compared with newborns of less-active moms.

    "But we didn't see any effect on lean mass," Dabelea said.

    Experts already recommend that pregnant women get moderate exercise -- for their sake and their baby's. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says healthy pregnant women should aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity, such as brisk walking, most days of the week.

    That's partly because exercise can reduce the amount of blood sugar that gets to the fetus, which cuts the risk of having a larger-than-normal baby, said Dr. Joseph Fernandez, an obstetrician/gynecologist with Scott & White Healthcare in Round Rock, Texas.

    "There used to be some hearsay that women who exercise a lot during pregnancy will have a small baby," said Fernandez, who was not involved in the new study.

    Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

    Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
    what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

    Today on WebMD

    hand circling date on calendar
    Track your most fertile days.
    woman looking at ultrasound
    Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
     
    Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
    The signs to watch out for.
    pregnant woman in hospital
    Are there ways to do it naturally?
     
    slideshow fetal development
    Slideshow
    pregnancy first trimester warning signs
    Article
     
    What Causes Bipolar
    Video
    Woman trying on dress in store
    Slideshow
     
    pregnant woman
    Article
    Woman looking at pregnancy test
    Quiz
     
    calendar and baby buggy
    Tool
    dark chocolate squares
    Slideshow