Objective: To determine the effect of maternal exercise on the fetal blood flow of normal and growth-retarded fetuses.
Methods: The effect of maternal exercise on fetal blood flow was investigated with 24 pregnant women between 36 and 42 weeks' gestation. Seventeen pregnancies were uncomplicated (normal group) and the other 7 were complicated with growth-retarded fetuses (IUGR group). They underwent graded walking on a treadmill with an upper limit of 150 bpm for the maternal heart rate. The systolic over diastolic velocity ratio (S/D ratio) of the umbilical artery was measured before exercise, and at 3, 5, 10, and 15 minutes after exercise.
Results: The mean S/D ratio of the IUGR group before exercise was significantly higher than that of the normal group (p < 0.05). The S/D ratio did not change significantly after exercise, in either the normal group or the IUGR group.
Conclusion: This study suggests that maternal exercise at this level of intensity and duration does not have any harmful effect, even on growth-retarded fetuses that might have placental dysfunctions.