Purpose: Prior studies of the association between physical activity and risk of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy have been conflicting, failed to assess total physical activity, and included few Hispanic women, the largest minority group in the United States with the highest birth rates.
Methods: We examined this association among 1043 participants in the Latina Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Study, a prospective cohort of predominantly Puerto Rican prenatal care patients conducted from 2000 to 2004 in western Massachusetts. Physical activity before and in early pregnancy was assessed by bilingual interviewers using a modified version of the Kaiser Physical Activity Survey.
Results: Fifty women (4.8%) were diagnosed with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and 30 (2.9%) with preeclampsia. In multivariable analyses, there was a statistically significant trend of decreasing risk of hypertensive disorders with increasing sports/exercise in early pregnancy (P(trend) = 0.04). High levels of early pregnancy active living activity (odds ratio (OR) = 0.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.1-1.1, P(trend) = 0.07) and household/care giving activity (OR = 0.4, 95% CI = 0.1-1.3, P(trend) = 0.07) were associated with a 60% reduction in risk of hypertensive disorders relative to low levels; however, these associations were of marginal statistical significance. High levels of total physical activity (OR = 0.3, 95% CI = 0.1-1.0, P(trend) = 0.06) in early pregnancy were associated with a 70% reduction in the risk of hypertensive disorders relative to low levels; however, this association was also of marginal statistical significance. Prepregnancy physical activity was not associated with hypertensive disorders.
Conclusions: These results in a Hispanic population, although based on small numbers of cases, corroborate previous studies suggesting that recreational activity in early pregnancy reduces the risk of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.