The Influence of Maternal Aerobic Exercise During Pregnancy on Health Disparities and Birth Outcomes

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Madigan J Raper (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
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Abstract: Health inequities are defined as any apparent disparity in the health of different individuals due to a preventable cause (Penman-Aguilar, Talih, Huang, Moonesinghe, Bouye & Beckles, 2016). Some determinants of health inequities seen in the United States are race, socioeconomic status, and education level (Penman-Aguilar et al., 2016). In pregnancy, these determinants can contribute to adverse maternal, fetal, and neonatal birth outcomes. For example, African American (AA) women are at a higher risk for preterm birth, or delivery before 37 weeks" gestation (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2018). Preterm birth is important to research because it can cause adverse outcomes such as low birth weights and developmental delays (CDC, 2018). Current research demonstrates the benefits of maternal exercise on birth outcomes such as preterm birth, but fails to investigate the influence of maternal exercise and nutrition on attenuating adverse birth outcomes in AA (Chan, Au Yeung, & Law, 2019). The purpose of this study was to evaluate if supervised exercise training during gestation have similar birth outcome measures in AA and Caucasian infants. In this cross-sectional comparison study, women in the Greenville, North Carolina area are recruited at 16 weeks of pregnancy to participate in weekly exercise. Participants were randomized into 4 groups: aerobic only, combination (aerobic and resistance), resistance only, or non-exercise . Participants completed 150 minutes of moderate intensity weekly exercise from 16 weeks gestational age to delivery. At birth, measures were assessed, including gestational age and birth weight. Standard ANOVAs, multiple t-tests, and logistic regressions were performed to detect differences in measures between the populations. Maternal exercise intervention had similar outcome measures between AA and Caucasians for gestational age. Caucasian and AA infants exposed to maternal exercise had similar measures of gestational age at birth (p=0.227). 20% (6/30) of AA had preterm births relative to 8.5% (8/94) of Caucasians. AA women had significantly (p<0.001) lower birth weights than Caucasian women. These results suggest that maternal exercise has a similar maternal physiological response that benefits African American and Caucasian infants alike regarding gestational. Thus, maternal exercise may be a low cost non-pharmacological way to attenuate adverse birth outcomes in AA women, such as preterm births. Lower birth weights is expected in AA women despite the lower rates of preterm birth. Further research is required to understand birth weight, other birth outcomes, and long term effects.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
health disparities, pregnancy, exercise, birth outcomes, preterm birth, low birth weight

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