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Mom’s Exercise During Pregnancy Gives Baby’s Brain a Boost

Update Date: Nov 12, 2013 01:07 AM EST

Twenty minutes of exercise, three times per week during pregnancy gives a boost to newborn’s brain, scientists find.

Scientists at the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine children’s hospital believe that inculcating such habit can have an impact on the child’s entire life.

“Our research indicates that exercise during pregnancy enhances the newborn child’s brain development,” said Professor Dave Ellemberg, according to Indian Express, who also led the study.

“While animal studies have shown similar results, this is the first randomised controlled trial in humans to objectively measure the impact of exercise during pregnancy directly on the newborn’s brain.”

Moms-to-be who were in their second trimester, were considered for the study. They were assigned randomly to either an exercise group or a sedentary group . Each exercise group involved performing an exercise for at least 20 minutes, three times per week. No exercise was assigned to women in the sedentary group.

Later the brain activity of the newborns were accessed by means of electroencephalography. It is a technique that enables the recording of the electrical activity of the brain.

“We used 124 soft electrodes placed on the infant’s head and waited for the child to fall asleep on his or her mother’s lap. We then measured auditory memory by means of the brain’s unconscious response to repeated and novel sounds,” said PhD candidate Labonte-LeMoyne who co-authored the study, according to Indian Express.

“We hope these results will guide public health interventions and research on brain plasticity. Most of all, we are optimistic that this will encourage women to change their health habits, given that the simple act of exercising during pregnancy could make a difference for their child’s future,” added Ellemberg.

The findings of the study were presented at Neuroscience 2013 congress in San Diego.

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