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Pregnancy Study Helped Reduce High Birth Weight Babies

Update Date: Feb 14, 2014 01:52 PM EST

Even though many studies are focused on the health risks associated with preterm infants, other studies have warned that infants born at abnormally heavy weights can be detrimental as well. According to one of the world's largest studies that involved pregnant women, the researchers reported that providing women with healthy eating and exercise information could reduce the number of high birth weight infants.

"Our focus was on providing simple, practical lifestyle advice that is very achievable in the real world. It wasn't about going on a diet, but focused on healthy eating and increasing activity levels on a daily basis," the study lead author, Professor Jodie Dodd, said.

This study, known as the LIMIT study, involved 2152 pregnant women with 2,141 newborns from 2008 to 2011 in South Australia. The study was headed by researchers from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute and the Women's and Children's Hospital. After analyzing the first major results from the study, the researchers concluded that educating pregnant women about nutrition and exercise led to an 18 percent decrease in the likelihood of giving birth to an overweight baby. The researchers defined an overweight or obese baby as one weighing over 8.8 pounds.

"We know that babies who are born over 4kg [8.8 pounds] have a two-fold increased risk of being overweight or obese as children, which often carries into later life, bringing with it a range of health concerns such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. So we're pleased to see that the study has led to a significant reduction in the risk of a baby being born over 4kg," Dodd said according to Medical Xpress.

The researchers stated that even though a lot of women are overweight or obese during pregnancy, no studies have really examined the effects of promoting healthy eating and good physical activity levels on babies' birth weights. This study used lifestyle intervention methods that educated roughly half of the sample set about the benefits of leading an overall healthy lifestyle. The other half acted as the control group and received standard care.

The findings were published in the British Medical Journal.

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