Physical Activity and Weight Gain Throughout Pregnancy Are Associated With Umbilical Cord Markers

J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2022 Dec;44(12):1262-1270. doi: 10.1016/j.jogc.2022.09.012. Epub 2022 Oct 8.


Objective: Maternal serum and umbilical cord (UC) lipid and glucose levels are influenced by a variety of maternal factors over the course of pregnancy, including maternal physical activity (PA) levels and gestational weight gain (GWG). However, previous research has not assessed the interaction of these 2 variables. This study investigated mid-gestation (24-28 weeks) and late gestation (34-38 weeks) maternal and UC serum lipid and glucose profiles in relation to maternal PA status and GWG, independently and in combination.

Methods: This study had a longitudinal design. Pregnant participants (n = 40) were categorized as active or inactive based on the 2019 Canadian Guideline for Physical Activity throughout Pregnancy, and GWG was categorized as insufficient, appropriate, or excessive based on 2009 Institute of Medicine recommendations. Fasting maternal serum was taken in mid- and late gestation, and venous UC serum was taken at birth.

Results: No relationship was found between maternal serum values and PA and/or GWG. Infants born to individuals who were physically active across pregnancy, or who were active in mid-pregnancy and had their activity status drop in late gestation, had lower UC total cholesterol levels than those who were inactive throughout pregnancy (P < 0.0001). Participants who had gained weight appropriately at mid-gestation had significantly lower UC glucose levels than those who gained weight insufficiently (P = 0.040) or excessively (P = 0.021).

Conclusion: In our study, PA, and GWG (independently and in combination) may not have affected maternal serum; however, meeting PA recommendations at mid-gestation may provide prophylactic effects on UC serum, potentially providing long-term health benefits to the newborn.

Keywords: cholesterol; gestational weight gain; glucose; physical activity; pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight
  • Body Mass Index
  • Canada
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Glucose
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lipids
  • Parturition
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications* / prevention & control
  • Umbilical Cord
  • Weight Gain


  • Lipids
  • Glucose