Prenatal Exercise Affects Baby's Brain


baby

We all know how important it is to exercise regularly for overall health, and that includes when you are pregnant as well. But did you know that prenatal exercise not only helps the moms-to-be, it also improves their baby’s brain development?

Here’s what the experts say: In a new study from the University of Montreal and CHU Sainte-Justine children’s hospital, a team of researchers conducted the first ever randomized controlled trial in pregnant women that measured the effect of prenatal exercise on the brain of the baby in utero.

Read more about pregnancy and exercise myths

In this study, pregnant women at the beginning of their second trimester were assigned to one of two groups. Those in group one performed cardiovascular exercise at a moderate pace (until they were slightly short of breath) for at least 20 minutes three times a week. Women in group two did not exercise.

After the women gave birth, the brain activity of their newborns were evaluated between the ages of 8 to 12 days. Researchers used electroencephalography to get their data, using 124 soft electrodes that were placed on the newborn’s head. Readings were taken after the babies fell asleep.

 

The investigators found newborns whose moms practiced prenatal exercise had “a more mature cerebral activation, suggesting that their brains developed more rapidly,” according to Elise Labonte-LeMoyne, a PhD candidate and one of the study’s authors.

When the babies in the study reach 1 year of age, the researchers plan to evaluate all of them for their motor, language, and cognitive functioning to determine if the differences seen soon after birth carried forward.

Women have other good reasons to stay physically active during their pregnancy, with their doctor’s permission of course. Pregnant women should always check with their physician before exercising to make sure there are no special conditions or complications that could limit their activities.

Otherwise, exercise during pregnancy can:

Help maintain a healthy weight

Relieve stress

Improve posture and relieve back pain

Reduce constipation

Improve sleep

Prepare your body for childbirth and make labor and delivery easier

Make it easier to regain your pre-pregnancy figure after delivery

Read more about prenatal exercise

 

Photo Credit: paparutzi


By Deborah Mitchell| November 18, 2013
Categories:  Nest

About the Author

Deborah Mitchell

Deborah Mitchell

Deborah is a freelance health writer who is passionate about animals and the environment. She has authored, co-authored, and written more than 50 books and thousands of articles on a wide range of topics. Currently she lives in Tucson, Arizona. Visit her at deborahmitchellbooks.com.



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