Do changing levels of maternal exercise during pregnancy affect neonatal adiposity? Secondary analysis of the babies after SCOPE: evaluating the longitudinal impact using neurological and nutritional endpoints (BASELINE) birth cohort (Cork, Ireland)

BMJ Open. 2017 Dec 1;7(11):e017987. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-017987.


Objective: To investigate whether changing levels of exercise during pregnancy are related to altered neonatal adiposity.

Design: Secondary analysis of data from a prospective cohort study.

Setting: Cork, Ireland.

Participants: 1200 mother - infant pairs recruited as part of a prospective birth cohort, Babies After SCOPE: Evaluating the Longitudinal Impact Using Neurological and Nutritional Endpoints (BASELINE).

Main outcome measures: Neonatal adiposity was assessed within several days of birth using air displacement plethysmography (PEAPOD). Per cent body fat (BF%) as a continuous outcome and a pair of dichotomous variables; high or low adiposity, representing BF% >90th or <10th centile, respectively. Multivariable linear and logistic regression models were used to investigate the relationship between exercise and the respective outcomes.

Results: Crude analysis revealed no association between a changing level of exercise (since becoming pregnant) at 15 weeks' gestation and any of the outcomes (BF%, low adiposity and high adiposity). At 20 weeks' gestation, analyses revealed that relative to women who do not change their exercise level up to 20 weeks, those women who decreased their exercise level were more likely to give birth to a neonate with adiposity above the 90th centile (OR 1.62, 95% CI 1.07 to 2.46). This association was maintained after adjustment for putative confounders (OR 1.62, 95% CI 1.06 to 2.47).

Conclusions: We observed a possible critical period for the association between changing exercise levels and neonatal adiposity, with no association observed with exercise recall for the first 15 weeks of gestation, but an association with a decreasing level of exercise between 15 and 20 weeks. These results should be interpreted in line with the limitations of the study and further studies utilising objectively measured estimates of exercise are required in order to replicate these findings.

Trial registration number: NCT01498965.

Keywords: adiposity; exercise; peapod; pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Birth Weight / physiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Ireland
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies

Associated data