All Woman

Keep your placenta healthy by exercising while pregnant

Monday, June 24, 2019

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OVER 1.9 billion adults worldwide are overweight or obese, and by 2025 this is projected to increase to 2.7 billion.

Obesity significantly raises the risk of developing 11 different types of cancer, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

New research in The Journal of Physiologyfound a possible explanation for the benefits of maternal exercise on foetal development, in obese mothers: It's down to improved placental function, which prevents the foetus from growing too big, and also promotes better metabolism in the mothers.

The placenta performs nutrient and oxygen exchanges between the mother and her foetuses, and placental function is impaired due to maternal obesity, which likely alters nutrient and oxygen delivery to the foetus.

Exercise during pregnancy is known to be beneficial for both maternal health and foetal development. This study found that exercise not only improved the function of the placenta, but also the metabolism of the mother. Importantly, they found that the babies were not born larger, (which is frequently associated with obesity and metabolic diseases in later life), when the obese mothers exercised.

In this study, female mice were fed a healthy diet (10 per cent energy from fat) or a high-fat diet to become obese and then mated. Each of the maternal groups was further divided into two subgroups: Those that did and did not perform exercise during gestation.

Mice were exercised from 0 to 18.5 days of pregnancy (the term is 20.5 days) and placental function and maternal and foetal changes were analysed.

Further studies will focus on identifying mechanisms explaining the beneficial effects of exercise on placental development of obese mothers. Researchers will define the possible role of chemicals secreted during exercise on blood vessel development in placenta, which is critical for delivery of nutrients and oxygen to foetuses, as well as their long-term impacts on the health of next generation.

Professor Min Du, senior author on the paper, said: “Understanding how maternal exercise might help prevent offspring from becoming obese or developing metabolic diseases will help us best guide mothers so they can ensure their babies are as healthy as possible.”

— Science Daily

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