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Effects of maternal exercise on fetal breathing movements
Date:4/16/2009

NEW ORLEANS Exercise has many benefits for adults, teens, and youngsters. It is less clear what benefit, if any, exercise may have during fetal growth during gestation. Now that scientists have determined that, generally speaking, maternal exercise poses no significant risk to a fetus, studies are underway to examine the mother/fetus/exercise/health connection.

One important study is now complete. Entitled The Effects of Maternal Exercise on Fetal Breathing Movements, it was conducted by Stephanie Million and Linda E. May, Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (KCUMB), Kansas City, MO; and Kathleen M. Gustafson, University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC), Kansas City, KS. The researchers will discuss their findings at the 122nd Annual Meeting of the American Physiological Society (APS; www.the-aps.org/press), which is part of the Experimental Biology 2009 scientific conference. The meeting will be held April 18-22, 2009 in New Orleans.

Study and Background

The primary aim of the pilot project was to test the theory that maternal exercise imparts a cardiovascular benefit to the fetus. The secondary aim was to determine if exercise-exposed fetuses have increased breathing movements compared to non-exercise exposed fetuses. Fetal breathing movements are a marker of fetal well-being and reflect functional development of the respiratory system and central nervous system control.

The researchers used a non-invasive, dedicated fetal biomagnetometer to measure maternal and fetal magnetocardiograms (MCG) along with fetal movements (breathing, body movements, hiccups and non-nutritive suck). Unlike an ultrasound, which takes static measurements of anatomy, MCG records the physiology of the developing fetus.

The investigators looked at the results from pregnant women between 20 and 35 years of age. The mothers were classified as exercisers if they performed moderate int
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Contact: Donna Krupa
dkrupa@the-aps.org
703-967-2751
American Physiological Society
Source:Eurekalert

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