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Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Physical exercise during pregnancy improves fetal cardiac behavior



An investigation by the Polytechnic University of Madrid and the University Hospital of Torrejón establishes that the practice of moderate physical exercise on the part of the mother improves the response of the heart of the fetus and favors a better recovery of the weight after childbirth.

There is no period in the life of the human being with the quantity and quality of organic changes such as pregnancy and childbirth, which represents a real challenge for women of reproductive age whose basic purpose is to ensure normal fetal growth and development.

Given that physical exercise has become an integral part of life in all population segments, experts now focus on assessing the possible benefits that physical exercise can have for the health of the mother and the fetus.

A study developed by researchers from the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) and the Obstetrics Service of the University Hospital of Torrejón establishes that moderate and supervised physical exercise in pregnancy improves the cardiac response of the fetus and the recovery of weight on the part of the mother in the postpartum.

The pregnant women who developed exercise from week 8-10 have better results compared to the control in two important parameters: the fetal cardiac ejection fraction and the pulsatility index of the ductus arteriosus -small vessel that connects the aorta with the artery. pulmonary, normally open in the fetus- ", explains Rubén Barakat, of the Faculty of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences-INEF of the UPM and participant in the study.

While those two variables improved, the rest of the fetal cardiac aspects showed no differences between the study groups, which, according to the researchers, demonstrates the harmless effect of exercise in terms of cardiac functionality, so it can be considered safe for the heart fetal.

In the opinion of the main author, Maia Brik "it has been scientifically proven that practicing exercise during pregnancy from the first trimester is safe for the fetus from a cardiological point of view, and on the other hand, it has been concluded that the ejection fraction Fetal cardiac function is better in fetuses of mothers who have exercised, so that exercise could be an adaptive advantage in the intrauterine period in the fetuses of physically active mothers. In this way, it seems that exercise not only has advantages in the maternal cardiovascular aspect, but also in the fetal one ".

The study consisted of a randomized clinical trial conducted with 120 healthy pregnant women. The results, published in the prestigious journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology , were also part of a doctoral thesis recently read at the Faculty of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences of the UPM.

Better postpartum recovery

In addition to studying how the fetus' heart benefits, the researchers also looked at how practicing exercise before birth influences how a woman recovers her pre-pregnancy physical status. "Our work showed a greater recovery of pre-pregnancy weight at 6 weeks in those women who practiced moderate physical exercise during pregnancy. In addition, the psychological well-being of the mother also benefits, "explains Barakat.

Thus, although the process of pregnancy and childbirth means a period of great satisfaction for the woman, she is not exempt from risks and complications in all areas of her organism (not only the physiological one), which carries with it a certain degree of physical, mental stress and emotional For this reason, researchers consider that it is especially important to have attractive elements that are easily accessible and that help maintain and improve their quality of life.

Moderate and supervised physical exercise has amply demonstrated these potentialities and the present results reinforce the idea of ​​an active pregnancy as a basic factor of well-being", states Barakat.

"It becomes necessary (almost urgent) to involve and raise awareness not only of the pregnant woman, but also of all those responsible for her health care (couple, healthcare environment, others) about the search for preventive factors of complications and alterations that originated during pregnancy and childbirth, are determinants of women's health throughout their future life, "he adds.

End the myth

For the authors, the knowledge that exercise does not adversely affect the fetal heart, and even that it improves the parameters of cardiac functionality, can put an end to the myth that it could have negative effects on fetal development during pregnancy.

"The present results, together with previous findings in the same line, confirm the potential of physical exercise during pregnancy as a basic element for maternal, fetal and newborn well-being and its interesting and encouraging impact on the health of both, provided that when it is carried out in a supervised manner, "adds the UPM researcher.

"Hospital institutions and those health professionals responsible for the health care of pregnant women can not rule out this reality. From the scientific and methodological point of view, it is important to remember the basic criterion of intervention used, through a program of regular physical exercise, moderate and supervised by a professional, "he concludes.



Bibliography:

 Brik M, Fernández-Buhigas I, Martin-Arias A, Vargas-Terrones M, Barakat R, Santacruz B. 
Does exercise during pregnancy impact on maternal weight gain and fetal cardiac function? A randomized controlled trial .
Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol . 2019 May; 53 (5): 583-589.

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