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Stretching exercises may reduce risk of pre-eclampsia during pregnancy
Date:5/28/2008

CHAPEL HILL Stretching exercises may be more effective at reducing the risk of preeclampsia than walking is for pregnant women who have already experienced the condition and who do not follow a workout routine, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing.

Preeclampsia, or pregnancy-induced hypertension, is a condition that affects up to 8 percent of pregnancies every year and is among the leading causes of maternal and fetal illness and death worldwide.

The finding is contrary to existing studies and literature that suggest that rigorous exercise is the most effective way to reduce the risk of preeclampsia, said SeonAe Yeo, Ph.D., an associate professor with a specialty in womens health at the UNC School of Nursing and the studys lead researcher.

Yeo will present the findings Thursday (May 29) at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Indianapolis, Ind. The results will be published in the spring issue of the journal Hypertension in Pregnancy.

Preeclampsia is characterized by a marked increase in blood pressure during pregnancy and may be accompanied by swelling and kidney problems. It is diagnosed when blood pressure readings taken twice in six hours read 140/90 or higher.

These results seemingly contradict the conventional wisdom that walking is the best protection pregnant women have against developing preeclampsia, Yeo said. But for women who were not physically active before becoming pregnant and who have experienced preeclampsia with a previous pregnancy, that might not be the case.

From November 2001 to July 2006, 79 women with a previous preeclampsia diagnosis and a sedentary lifestyle participated in this National Institute of Nursing Research-funded study. Women were randomly assigned to either the walking group (41 women) or the stretching group (38 women) during the 18th week of pregnancy.

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Contact: Patric Lane
patric_lane@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Source:Eurekalert

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