Exercise during pregnancy boosts infants brain
- Andrew Jones
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According to a new study, pregnant women who exercises shows a notable improvement to their babies brain development*. This interesting diagnosis was revealed by a team of researchers from the University of Montreal during the Neuroscience 2013 congress in San Diego, USA. The presentation "Foetal brain development is influenced by maternal exercise during pregnancy " indicated that even 20 minutes of mild exercise three days a week was sufficient to boost the newborn’s brain development.
Professor Dave Ellemberg, the lead researcher from the University of Montreal, Canada says their study illustrated that expectant mothers who regularly exercise have notably boosted their babies’ brain development. He added that though similar results have been observed from animal test subjects in the past, this however, was the first time that they conducted the experiment on human beings.
Professor Daniel Curnier, the co-author of the study and University of Montreal’s sports and exercise scientist surmised that being active helps women reduces complications during delivery and helps to speed up the recover time after delivery. This latest breakthrough flies in the face of conventional wisdom; where women have been advised to take it slow during pregnancy in the past. This research not only debunks this age-old notion, it has also proven that too much inactivity can be detrimental to both mother and child.
Women who took part in the experiment were randomly assigned to an ‘inactive sedentary’ or the ‘exercise’ group respectively. The women belonging to the ‘inactive sedentary’ group didn’t exercise at all while those in the ‘exercise’ group were required to do at least 20 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise three times a week at a minimal intensity of 55% of their maximal aerobic capacity. 12 days after they had given birth, the electrical activities of their babies’ brains were measured.
Elise Labonte-LeMoyne, another member of The University of Montreal Research Team, revealed that they waited for the babies to fall asleep on their mothers’ lap and strategically placed 124 soft electrodes on their heads. They then measured auditory memory by means of the brain's unconscious response to repeated and novel sounds. The results then showed that babies whose mothers exercise regularly have a more mature cerebral activation; which indicate that their brains were developing more rapidly.
The researchers are now taking the study to a whole new level and are evaluating each infant’s language, physical and mental abilities at their first year to find out whether or not they really perform better if their mothers exercise regularly. Although, the study does not go into great detail why babies brain shows an increase in brain function, many people believe that the exercise leads to an enriched blood supply to both mother and baby, along with purging toxins from both.
*Caution still needs to be shown, before any exercise routine is started, it is best to consult with a health care provider, and avoid any new or strenuous activities. The exercises in question would need to be low impact exercises such as walking, swimming or sitting on an exercise bike. If you have a medical problem, such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes, exercise may not be advisable. Exercise may also be harmful if you have a pregnancy-related condition such as:
• Bleeding or spotting
• Low placenta
• Threatened or recurrent miscarriage
• Previous premature births or history of early labor
• Weak cervix
Pregnant women should not push their bodies when tired and should not perform exhausting exercise. Again, talk with your health care provider before beginning any exercise program. Your health care provider should be able to give you personal exercise guidelines, based on your medical history.