Effects of Regular Exercise During Pregnancy on Early Childhood Neurodevelopment: The Physical Activity for Mothers Enrolled in Longitudinal Analysis Randomized Controlled Trial

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of exercise during pregnancy on early childhood neurodevelopment (cognitive, motor, and language domains). Methods: A randomized controlled trial nested into the 2015 Pelotas (Brazil) Birth Cohort was conducted. Healthy pregnant women were enrolled between 16 and 20 weeks of gestation; 424 women and their children (intervention [n = 141]; control [n = 283]) were analyzed. An exercise-based intervention 3 times per week was delivered over 16 weeks. Child neurodevelopment and its domains were assessed at 1, 2, and 4 years. Standardized mean differences and 95% confidence intervals are presented. Results: No effects of exercise during pregnancy on child neurodevelopment and its domains at age 1 year were observed. Compared with the control group, children from women in the exercise group had higher language score at age 2 years (standardized mean differences = 0.23; 95% confidence intervals, 0.02 to 0.44) and higher cognitive score (standardized mean differences = 0.22; 95% confidence intervals, 0.03 to 0.41) at age 4 years. No effects of exercise during pregnancy were observed in the motor domain at 1, 2, and 4 years. Conclusions: No detrimental effects of exercise during pregnancy on child neurodevelopment were observed. In addition, these findings suggest that exercise during pregnancy can result in small benefits for language and cognitive development.

Leão, Bertoldi, Ricardo, Silveira, and Hallal are with the Postgraduate Program in Epidemiology, Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil. Domingues, Müller, Tornquist, and Crochemore-Silva are with the Postgraduate Program in Physical Education, Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil. Martins and Murray are with the Postgraduate Program in Epidemiology and Human Development, and the Violence Research Centre (DOVE), Federal University of Pelotas, Pelotas, Brazil. Mielke is with the School of Public Health, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

Leão (otavioaaleao@gmail.com) is corresponding author.

Supplementary Materials

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