Pregnant women who are physically active have a lower risk of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes than women who are less active. One possible mechanism is a reduction in low-grade inflammation, as measured by plasma concentrations of C-reactive protein (CRP). The association between exercise and CRP in pregnant women, however, has not been adequately investigated.
A total of 537 pregnant women, enrolled around the 17th week of gestation in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study in 2003 to 2004, were studied. Self-reported recreational exercise was recalled for both 3 months before pregnancy and early pregnancy. The total energy expenditure from recreational exercise (total recreational exercise, metabolic equivalent of task [MET]-hr/week) was estimated, and low-, moderate- and vigorous-intensity exercise was defined. Plasma CRP concentrations were measured during pregnancy.
In adjusted linear regression models, mean CRP concentration was 1.0% lower [95% CI = –1.9% to 0.2%] with each 1 MET-hr/week of total recreational exercise before pregnancy. In addition, vigorous-intensity exercise before pregnancy was more strongly related to a reduction in CRP levels than low- or moderate-intensity exercise. However, we observed no association between recreational exercise during pregnancy and plasma CRP levels.
Recreational exercise before pregnancy, especially vigorous exercise, may reduce the risk of maternal inflammation during pregnancy.
Wang (firstname.lastname@example.org), Cupul-Uicab (email@example.com), Rogan, Travlos, Wilson, and Longnecker are with the Dept of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Durham, NC. Cupul-Uicab is also with the Center for Population Research, National Institute of Public Health, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. Eggesbo is with the Dept of Genes and Environment, Division of Epidemiology, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway.