Obese women who eat a healthy diet and exercise during pregnancy can improve their health and that of their children three years after delivery. This is the result of a study by researchers at London’s King’s College. A group of pregnant women with obesity improved the quality of their diet and practiced physical activities were compared to women in a control group who did not change their lifestyle during pregnancy.
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Both groups were followed for three years after the babies were born. The conclusions of the study show that children who had intervention in the study had a resting heart rate 5 bpm (beats per minute) lower than those whose mothers did not change their lifestyle. A higher resting heart rate in adults is associated with hypertension and cardiovascular dysfunction.
– Maternal and child nutrition works with what we call fetal programming, which is the baby’s metabolic programming. The author, at the end of the study, says that the window of opportunity to promote positive changes in the health of the mother and baby is precisely 1,100 days (a period ranging from three months before pregnancy to the child’s two years). The mother is motivated to offer a gentle intrauterine environment to gestate her baby, and in addition she prevents pregnancy complications – says Graziela Siqueira, nutritionist at Perinatal.
The specialist always recommends assembling the dish in a colorful way to acquire various nutrients, in addition to avoiding industrialized foods and excess caffeine, which is present in coffee, chocolate and mate tea, for example.
To do physical activity, the pregnant woman must first be evaluated and released by the obstetrician who accompanies her, and also receive the guidance of a physical education professional who will indicate which activities are most recommended for her profile.
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– During pregnancy, the ideal is to do exercises of little impact and of short duration. We do not recommend the practice of contact sports or high impact activities like running – says Eduardo Netto, technical director of Grupo Bodytech, who adds: – The ideal would be to do water aerobics, but it is not always accessible for all.
According to obstetrician Karina Tafner, a specialist in gynecological endocrinology, the healthier the pregnant woman’s diet, the better nourished the baby will be, in addition to reducing the risk of gestational diabetes, increased pressure during pregnancy and premature birth. Physical exercise increases blood circulation in the placenta, which brings oxygen and nutrients to the baby.
– But everything has to be done in moderation. The pregnant woman should not have a super restrictive diet, because she cannot lose weight during pregnancy. Depending on the weight that the woman presents at the beginning of pregnancy, there is an indication of how many pounds she will gain in pregnancy. If the mother has obesity in the beginning, we want her to gain less weight than a woman within the weight indicated for her height and age – she says.
The study also showed that mothers who changed their lifestyle maintained a healthier diet three years after the birth of their child.
For the researchers, these findings are encouraging because they increase the evidence that pregnancy is a window of opportunity to promote positive health changes and that benefit mother and child. They will monitor children again when they are in the 8 to 10 year old age group to see if this improvement in cardiovascular function is maintained.