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Newborn babies' brains get boost when expecting moms exercise

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Obstetric gynecologists have long recommended moderate exercise during pregnancy so would-be moms can lower the risks for back pain, hypertension, diabetes, and other problems associated with pregnancy. A new study now has found out that moderate exercise can also help boost the brain development of a baby inside the mother's womb. This means moderate exercise during pregnancy will not only benefit expecting mothers, but might also help their babies be smarter.

A research presented during the annual conference of brain experts of the Society for Neuroscience in California suggested that mothers should practice good health habits during pregnancy as exercise will help shape a better future for their children.

The study was done by scientists from the University of Montreal in Canada. The proponents connected leads to monitor the brain activities of infants and found out that babies whose mothers exercised moderately during pregnancy were more active than those who were born to moms who opted not to be physically active.

"We found that the babies who were born from the mothers who were active had a much more mature brain response. The brain response corresponded to that of babies of six to eight months of age," said Dr. Dave Ellemberg lead author of the study in an interview.

The neuroscientists described the brains of these babies as more mature, receptive, and reactive to stimuli compared to their counterpart subjects whose mothers did not dutifully exercise.

""While animal studies have shown similar results, this is the first randomized controlled trial in humans to objectively measure the impact of exercise during pregnancy directly on the newborn's brain. We hope these results will guide public health interventions and research on brain plasticity," said Ellemberg in a press statement.

The researchers are not ready yet to say that exercise during pregnancy will really make smarter children given that their sample size for the study was relatively small. The study involved only 18 pregnant women who were randomly assigned to an exercising and sedentary group. The former group was asked to engage in moderate exercise for at least 20 minutes three times a week. The latter group was instructed not to exercise.

The proponents have also started following up on subject babies who have celebrated their first birthday to see if the differences between the children still remain.

"This is yet another study showing the importance of staying active in pregnancy. And now another reason to exercise would be possibly to even make your baby smarter," said Dr. Jacques Moritz, an ObGyn from St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York, in an interview.

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