HealthDay News — Healthful lifestyle interventions consistently reduce gestational weight gain across various subgroups of women and significantly lower the odds of cesarean section without adversely affecting offspring outcomes, according to a study published online July 19 in The BMJ.

Shakila Thangaratinam, PhD, a professor of maternal and perinatal health at the Queen Mary University of London, and colleagues collected data from 36 studies involving a total of 12,526 women. The team assessed pregnancy outcomes relative to maternal diet and physical activity interventions. 

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The researchers found that, overall, interventions were associated with a 9% reduction in risk of cesarean section, and a 24% reduction in risk of developing gestational diabetes. Interventions were also tied to reduced risk of excess weight gain during pregnancy. Dietary and exercise interventions were not linked to outcomes such as stillbirth, small or large for gestational age fetus, or admission to a neonatal intensive care unit.

“Diet and physical activity based interventions during pregnancy reduce gestational weight gain and lower the odds of cesarean section,” the authors write. “There is no evidence that effects differ across subgroups of women.”

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