(HealthDay News) — Physical activity levels during pregnancy influence neonatal body composition, according to research published online July 7 in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Curtis S. Harrod, MPH, PhD, of the Colorado School of Public Health and Children’s Hospital in Aurora, and colleagues analyzed data for 826 mother-neonate pairs to assess the effect of physical activity during pregnancy on neonatal fat and fat-free mass, birth weight, and small for gestational age (SGA).

The researchers observed a significant inverse linear trend between total energy expenditure in late pregnancy and neonatal fat mass (Ptrend=0.04). No significant trend was observed between total energy expenditure in late pregnancy and either neonatal fat-free mass or birth weight. Total energy expenditure during early pregnancy or mid pregnancy was not associated with neonatal outcomes. The association between late-pregnancy total energy expenditure and SGA was not significant (Ptrend=0.07), but neonates of mothers in the highest versus the lowest quartile of total energy expenditure were more likely to be SGA (odds ratio, 3.0; 95% confidence interval, 1.4–6.7).

“Increasing levels of late-pregnancy total energy expenditure are associated with decreased neonatal adiposity without significantly reduced neonatal fat-free mass,” the authors write.

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