Pregnant women advised not to sit too much

Pregnant women with symptoms of depression are more likely to sit for long periods during their second trimester, increasing their risk of higher weight gain and developing gestational diabetes, a new study has found.

Sedentary behaviour, such as sitting for long periods, has already been linked to health issues such as obesity and diabetes, however its effect on the health of women who are pregnant is largely unknown.

UK researchers decided to look into this further. They asked over 1,200 pregnant women about their emotional wellbeing and levels of physical activity during the first trimester of their pregnancy, and towards the end of the second trimester.

They found that women who reported symptoms of depression were more likely to sit for longer periods. Furthermore, those who sat for longer periods during their second trimester tended to undertake less moderate or vigorous physical activity, and gained much greater amounts of weight between the first and second trimester.

Those who sat for long periods also had higher blood glucose levels at 28 weeks gestation, increasing their risk of developing gestational diabetes.

The researchers from the University of Warwick said their findings highlighted the need to tackle women's physical and mental wellbeing from early on in pregnancy.

"Pregnant women could benefit from early intervention to improve their physical and mental health and reduce the risks associated with sedentary behaviour. Gestational diabetes can increase the risk of birth complications for the mother and baby and so it is important we minimise this risk by reducing the time that pregnant women spend sitting down," commented the study's lead author, Dr Nithya Sukumar, of the Warwick Medical School.

The researchers added that encouraging women to take breaks from sitting down ‘might be an easier public health policy to implement than increasing their physical activity during pregnancy'.

"We believe reducing the sitting time has the potential to reduce pregnant women's risk of gestational diabetes and reduce the metabolic risk factors of their newborns."

Details of these findings were presented at the annual conference of the UK Society for Endocrinology in Edinburgh.


[Posted: Wed 04/11/2015]

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