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Diet and exercise plans help prevent excessive pregnancy weight gain

Review finds interventions may reduce risk of high blood pressure

Review finds interventions may reduce risk of high blood pressure

An updated systematic review has found that diet or exercise interventions, or a combination of the two, can help avoid excessive weight gain during pregnancy.

The original version of the Cochrane review published in 2012 found only inconclusive evidence that dietary and exercise programmes had beneficial effects for women and their babies.

For the update, researchers incorporated evidence from 37 new studies published between October 2011 and November 2014.

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The review findings, based on evidence from 11,444 women, found that just over one third (36%) who were allocated to weight management interventions had excessive weight gain over the course of their pregnancy, compared with around 45% in the control groups.

Interventions included low-sugar diets, exercise only, or diet and exercise combined. All led to similar reductions in the number of women who gained excessive weight. Exercise interventions were mainly moderate intensity and included walking, aerobics, Pilates and dance.

Women receiving the interventions were less likely to have high blood pressure, and there was evidence of a small reduction in caesarean deliveries and in the chances of having a baby heavier than four kilograms.

The authors emphasise that pregnancy is an ideal time to support women to make healthy lifestyle choices.

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