baby like it too

CrossFit athlete Kathy Devantier Prabhu, seven months pregnant, trains with her mother Paula Devantier in Niskayun, New York, September 21, 2021.

Ten thousand steps or more. Doing sports during pregnancy to stimulate the intellectual abilities of the unborn baby? Randomized trial conducted in Brazil and recently published in a specialized journal Journal of Physical Activity and Health, suggests that a physical activity (PA) program for pregnant women promotes language and cognitive development in their children.

As in other periods of life, the benefits of regular PA during pregnancy are becoming more and more reasonable, and this is a kind of double whammy, since it concerns both the expectant mother and her child.

With regard to neurodevelopment in particular, literature reviews have already mentioned effects on speech in particular, but these were mainly based on observational studies, which are less epidemiologically reliable than studies evaluating the effects of an intervention. to the control group.

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“Three IQ Gains”

Otavio Amaral de Andrade Leão (University of Pelotas, Brazil) and colleagues studied 424 pregnant women sixteen to twenty weeks of age in good health in a cohort (Pelotas Birth Cohort Study). Over sixteen weeks, 141 of them benefited from three weekly one-hour sessions of aerobic exercise (treadmill or stationary bike) and muscle strengthening. Compared to the children of women in the control group, children of “athletic” mothers scored better on language and cognitive tests at 2 and 4 years, while there was no difference at 1 year. The improvement was limited but statistically significant, notes the Brazilian team, who also note that FA during pregnancy did not adversely affect neurodevelopment.

“In terms of the magnitude of the effect on language, it is modest, equivalent to a three-point increase in IQ. comments by pediatric neurologist David Germano (CEA). It should also be kept in mind that these potential benefits are at the population level and not at the individual level, but these results will be consistent with others such as reduced risk of gestational diabetes. »

However, Dr. Germano highlights certain limitations of the study: thus, the women who took part in it are not representative of the general population, a significant number dropped out of the program along the way, and the significance of some of the results is limited.

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