Pregnancy exercise creates brainier babies

The media can’t seem to make its mind up about pregnant women who exercise and does seem to jump on the nearest band wagon. Here are two stories that I think are rather interesting.

There are recent claims that pregnant mums who exercise may be boosting their baby’s intelligence. The popularity of this story is slightly helped by this photo…and the one below. Awww!

baby

This study compared the effects of moderate exercise in the 1st 12 weeks of pregnancy, to no exercise. When the babies were 8-12 days old, their brain activity was measured.

Brain activity was measured using an EEG. The babies born to active mothers showed “heightened maturity” and increased activity in the regions of the brain responsible for memory, speech and language.

baby2

The research has yet to be peer reviewed, doesn’t mention how many women took part in the study, and it isn’t longitudinal so can’t tell us what effect this will have as they grow up, purely the effect it has at 8-12 days of age.

A few details:

  • the exercise group performed an average of 117 minutes of moderate intensity structured exercise per week
  • the sedentary group performed 12 minutes per week
  • the babies in the exercise groups appeared to discriminate between new sounds and learned sounds more efficiently. This was interpreted as a sign of increased maturity
  • there were also differences between the two groups in brain activity during sleep over the left temporal region
  • babies in the exercise group had increased activity in the temporal region; an area of the brain involved in memory, speech and language.

And then there’s this lady…

o-LEAANN-ELLISON-PREGNANT-WEIGHT-LIFTER-570

Don’t get me wrong, exercising during pregnancy IS GOOD FOR YOU! It can help you cope during labour and you can get back in shape after giving birth. But this comes with a few risks I would classify as unnecessary.

o-LEAANN-ELLISON-PREGNANT-WEIGHTLIFTER-570

The thing that winds me up about this the most isn’t that she’s doing this 2 weeks before her due date, but her reasons for doing it…she trains to maintain her ‘HOT mom’ image. Nothing to do with her health, or the health of her unborn baby, but her looks. Good on her for doing it, good on her for being able to do it, but this is one case where I think the risks outweigh the benefits.

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