Exercise might not prevent gestational diabetes

Exercise might not prevent a pregnant woman from developing gestational diabetes, according to a news report from Reuters.

Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology followed 855 normal-weight pregnant patients who were in the second trimester of their pregnancies.

Researchers assigned some of the women to a moderate- to high-intensity exercise regimen consisting of one hour of low-impact aerobics, strength training and stretching three times a week. They were also assigned at-home workouts twice a week.

After the 12-week program, the data showed little difference between the exercise group and the control group. Seven percent of the exercise group developed gestational diabetes by the third trimester of pregnancy compared with six percent of the control group.

There was no difference between the two groups in weight gain, weight, body mass index, and blood pressure after the 12-week period.

The results are marred by some inconsistencies by the participants, however. Only 55 percent of the exercise group exercised for the entire duration of the study. Meanwhile, ten percent of the control group exercised three days a week or more at moderate to high intensity.

Overall, women in the intervention group exercised two days a week at moderate to high intensity compared with 0.7 days in the control group.

While exercise is known to prevent and treat type 2 diabetes, it’s still not clear if exercise has the same effect on gestational diabetes.

Regular exercise is still suggested for pregnant women due to other health benefits. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women exercise moderately for 30 minutes every day, according to the Reuters report.

Nearly 14 percent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, according to Reuters. Overweight and obese women are at increased risk of gestational diabetes. While gestational diabetes goes away after pregnancy, those women are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes in the future.

The research study is published in the January 2012 issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Source: Reuters, Obstetrics & Gynecology

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