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Physically active moms-to-be give babies a head start on heart health
Date:4/7/2011

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2011 Moms-to-be long have been told by their doctors and baby-related books and websites that staying fit during pregnancy is good for both mother and child. When it was reported a couple of years back that exercising strengthens a fetus' heart control, many pregnant women took heed and hit the ground running, literally. Some signed up for prenatal yoga classes; others found new ways to incorporate low-impact aerobic activities into their daily lives.

But, for those pregnant women out there who might not be feeling all that motivated, or anything but energized, new research being reported this weekend could tip the scales: It turns out that exercising during pregnancy might be the earliest intervention strategy available to you for improving your child's heart health after birth.

"It is my hope that these findings will show that efforts focused on improving health need to start during pregnancy rather than in childhood," says Linda E. May, an exercise physiologist and anatomist at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences who has been heading up a series of studies on fetal heart development for the past four years. "Most of the focus today is on school-age children, but interventions should be focused long before that."

A 2008 pilot study conducted by May and her collaborators at KCUMB and the Kansas City University of Medicine found that pregnant women who exercised at least 30 minutes three times a week had fetuses with lower heart rates a sign of heart health during the final weeks of development.

Now the team has revealed that the fetuses' improved cardiovascular heart control is maintained one month after pregnancy, which indicates that mothers' efforts to stay active have lasting effects. The study results are to be presented this week at the Experimental Biology 2011 annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

For expectant mothers like Kelli Gifford of Katy, Texas, the idea t
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Contact: Angela Hopp
ahopp@asbmb.org
301-634-7389
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Source:Eurekalert

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