Prescribing diet and exercise can prevent excessive weight gain during pregnancy

An updated systematic review by the NIHR funded Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Review Group has published in the Cochrane Library. The review has found that diet and exercise interventions can prevent excessive weight gain in pregnancy and associated pregnancy complications.

The original review published in 2012 found only inconclusive evidence that diet and exercise interventions were of benefit for pregnant women and their babies. For the updated review, the research team included evidence from an additional 37 studies published between October 2011 and November 2014. The inclusion of the additional data from the other studies means that the evidence is based on the findings from 11,444 women.

Researchers found that around 36% of women allocated to interventions to help them manage their weight, had excessive weight gain over the course of their pregnancy compared with around 45% in the control groups.

Interventions involving low sugar diets, exercise only, or diet and exercise combined, all led to similar reductions in the number of women gaining excessive weight. Exercise interventions were mainly of moderate intensity and included various individual or group activities such as walking, aerobics, Pilates and dance.

The studies also found that women receiving the interventions were less likely have high blood pressure.

“The review’s findings will be important for informing antenatal care guidelines,” said lead author Benja Muktabhant, an Associate Professor in the Department of Nutrition at Khon Kaen University, in Thailand. “However, we need more studies on the effectiveness of these interventions in low-income countries and in women with non-Western lifestyles.” A new World Health Organization (WHO) guideline on antenatal care is in development and is expected to include recommendations based on this evidence.

Read and find out more about the review from the Cochrane Library article.

The NIHR funds the infrastructure costs for 24 Cochrane Review Groups based in academic or health institutions in the UK. These groups cover a wide range of areas of healthcare including dementia, depression, heart disease, oral health, palliative care, pregnancy and childbirth and schizophrenia.

Cochrane produces reviews that study the available evidence generated through research to inform decisions about health.

More articles     Posted on: 19 June 2015