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Paul J. Collings, Diane Farrar, Joanna Gibson, Jane West, Sally E. Barber & John Wright
Physical activity is advocated for a range of benefits to the uncomplicated pregnancy. We investigated associations of mid-pregnancy physical activity with maternal and neonatal health in white British and Pakistani-origin women from a deprived urban setting.
The study was performed in 6921 pregnant women (53% Pakistani-origin) who contributed data for 7305 singleton births. At 26–28 weeks gestation, women were grouped into four activity levels (inactive/somewhat active/moderately active/active) based on their self-reported physical activity. Linear regression with robust standard errors was used to calculate adjusted mean differences in health markers between the four groups of physical activity (reference group: inactive).
Three-quarters (74%) of Pakistani-origin women and 39% of white British women were inactive. Trend-tests revealed that more active white British women tended to be less adipose, had lower fasting and postload glucose levels, lower triglyceride concentrations, and their babies were less adipose (smaller triceps and subscapular skinfolds) than less active white British women. Somewhat active Pakistani-origin women exhibited lower triglyceride concentrations and systolic blood pressure, higher high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, and their babies were less adipose (smaller mid-upper arm and abdominal circumferences; lower cord-blood leptin concentration) compared to inactive Pakistani-origin women. No associations were observed for gestational age or birth weight.
Physical activity performed mid-pregnancy was beneficially associated with maternal cardiometabolic health and neonatal adiposity, without influencing gestational age or birth weight. Associations were dose-dependent in white British women, and even a small amount of mid-pregnancy physical activity appeared to benefit some health markers in Pakistani-origin women.