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

ensity aerobic exercise at least 30 minutes three times per week (moderate to vigorous walking, stationary bicycling and running). Mothers in the control category did not partake of a regular exercise routine. The MCG was measured between 24-36 weeks gestational age.

Between 36-38 weeks gestational age, breathing movements were identified using specific criterion. Measures of fetal heart rate and autonomic control were analyzed during episodes of fetal breathing and non-breathing movements. Although there was no difference in the number of breathing episodes, differences were noted between the groups.

Results

The researchers found:

  • Fetal HR was significantly lower in the exercise group during both breathing and non-breathing movement periods.
  • Fetal short-term and overall heart rate variability were higher in the exercise group during breathing movements.
  • Three independent measures of vagal control were higher in the exercise-exposed fetuses during breathing movements.
  • During periods of fetal non-breathing, there were no significant differences in measures of vagal control between groups. There were no group or breathing period differences in sympathetic heart rate control.

Conclusion

According to Drs. May and Gustafson, "These findings suggest a potential benefit of maternal exercise on fetal development because of the link between fetal breathing movements and the developing autonomic nervous system." Their next step is to use exercise as a potential intervention to improve short and long term outcomes in children born to women at risk for gestational diabetes.


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Contact: Donna Krupa
dkrupa@the-aps.org
703-967-2751
American Physiological Society
Source:Eurekalert

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