Objective: There is controversy concerning whether exercise during pregnancy may increase preterm delivery risk and type of delivery. The effect of pregnant Latin-American women engaging in vigorous exercise during the second and third trimester was examined regarding type of delivery and gestational age.
Materials and methods: This was a secondary analysis of data from a controlled randomized trial for determining the influence of physical exercise on pregnant women's endothelial function. The study included 35 nulliparous women, gestational week 16-20 attending prenatal care at three tertiary hospitals in Colombia, who were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The experimental group engaged in aerobic exercise involving 55 % - 75 % maximum heart rate for 60 min, three times a week for 12 weeks. The control group engaged in their usual physical activity. Maternal weight, height, weight gain, blood pressure and type of delivery were recorded; gender, abdominal and head circumference (cm), weight (g), height (cm), vitality (Apgar score at 1 and 5 min) and gestational age at the time of delivery (in weeks, days) were recorded for the newborn.
Results: There was no difference in type of delivery by the end of the 12-week program (p > 0.05), nor regarding newborn anthropometric variables, Apgar score, or maternal variables concerning weight, height, relative weight gain, blood pressure or weeks of gestation (p>0.05).
Conclusion: The potential public health benefits of vigorous exercise were enormous. This study supported existing guidelines indicating that Latin-American women may begin or maintain an on-going exercise program during pregnancy.
Trial registration: NCT00741312.