It’s been well established among doctors and researchers alike, that babies with lower birth weight have a greater risk of having high blood pressure later in life. However, a new study is the first to suggest that the exercise habits of expecting moms can actually reverse this long-standing belief and possibly lower a child’s chances of high blood pressure, even though they may weigh less at birth. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a key factor in cardiovascular health.
The research is a start in getting at the issue of genetic preprogramming of a child’s health characteristics while in the womb and can be found in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness.
“We looked at a range of normal birth weight babies, some falling at the lower end of the scale, and surprisingly we found that this lower birth weight and higher blood pressure relationship in these offspring is not supported if the women were physically active,” said James Pivarnik, lead author and kinesiology professor at MSU. “The connection was disrupted, indicating that exercise may in some way alter cardiovascular risk that occurs in utero.”