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Maternal Exercise Keeps Unborn Boys Trim and Terrific

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A study published in PLOS ONE has found that male offspring benefit more than females from the positive effects of exercise during pregnancy.

A University of NSW team led by Prof Margaret Morris examined whether the detrimental effects of maternal obesity on offspring could be reduced by the mother’s voluntary exercise prior to and during pregnancy. “We hypothesised that voluntary exercise during pregnancy would have beneficial effects on glucose levels and metabolism,” Morris said.

Female rats were fed a high-fat diet, including pies, cakes, dim sims and biscuits, for 6 weeks before mating and throughout gestation and lactation. Half underwent voluntary exercise from 10 days prior to mating until their offspring were delivered, while others remained sedentary. The expression of genes related to glucose, metabolism and inflammation in fat and muscle tissue were then measured 19 days after birth.

“Maternal exercise appeared to decrease the metabolic risk induced by maternal obesity, limiting fat deposits around the abdomen in the offspring and improving their insulin and glucose metabolism during the lactation window,” Morris said.

The effects were sex-specific, with males appearing to benefit more from maternal exercise than females. “Maternal exercise significantly improved male offspring’s insulin and glucose metabolism whereas female...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.