medwireNews: A high volume of moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise during the first trimester of pregnancy may reduce the risk for hyperglycemia and gestational diabetes later on, research shows.
The findings are based on a study of 2246 women (mean age 30.2 years, 78.3% non-White) from the prospective PETALS pregnancy cohort receiving care at Kaiser Permanente Northern California from 2013 to 2017.
Of these, 24.3% had abnormal screening after a 50 g oral glucose tolerance test (≥140 mg/dL), and 6.5% had gestational diabetes, as defined by the Carpenter-Coustan criteria.
According to a Pregnancy Physical Activity Questionnaire, completed at a mean 12.8 weeks’ gestation, 40.7% of the women met the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (150 min moderate activity per week) and 36.9% reported performing any vigorous intensity activity.
Using causal inference analysis to emulate a randomized controlled trial from observational data, the researchers calculated that there was no difference in the risk for an abnormal glucose screening result or gestational diabetes between the women who did and did not meet the Physical Activity Guidelines.
There was also no difference in outcomes between women who did and did not report taking part in any vigorous intensity activity.
There was a difference, however, between women who did and did not report exercising at a level at or above the cohort-specific 75th percentile for moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity, which was 13.2 metabolic equivalent hours per week, or approximately 38 minutes of moderate intensity walking per day.
Specifically, women above this threshold had a significant 4.6 fewer abnormal glucose screenings per 100 women and 1.8 fewer cases of gestational diabetes per 100 women relative to those below the 75th percentile for moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity.
Speaking at the 79th ADA Scientific Sessions in San Francisco, California, USA, Samantha Ehrlich (University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA) said she believes that more work is needed to confirm the relationship between exercise and gestational diabetes risk.
“Just as in recent years we have made great strides in looking at biomarkers prepregnancy or early pregnancy and the risk of gestational diabetes and other pregnancy disorders; I think the future will help us answer this question.”
“Wearable activity monitors are becoming more and more pervasive and we will soon have large cohorts which include reproductive age women who go on to become pregnant. These will really allow us to look at this question,” she concluded.
By Laura Cowen
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