Physical activity, sedentary behaviour and fetal macrosomia in uncomplicated pregnancies: A prospective cohort study

Esther W Reid, Jenny A. McNeill, Fiona A Alderdice, Mark A Tully, Valerie A Holmes

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: to explore maternal energy balance, incorporating free living physical activity and sedentary behaviour, in uncomplicated pregnancies at risk of macrosomia.

Methods: a parallel-group cross-sectional analysis was conducted in healthy pregnant women predicted to deliver infants weighing Z4000 g (study group) or o4000 g (control group). Women were recruited in a 1:1 ratio from antenatal clinics in Northern Ireland. Women wore a SenseWears Body Media Pro3 physical activity armband and completed a food diary for four consecutive days in the third trimester. Physical activity was measured in Metabolic Equivalent of Tasks (METs) where 1 MET¼1 kcal per kilogram of body weight per hour. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was employed using the General Linear Model to adjust for potential confounders.

Findings: of the 112 women recruited, 100 complete datasets were available for analysis. There was no significant difference in energy balance between the two groups. Intensity of free living physical activity (average METs) of women predicted to deliver macrosomic infants (n¼50) was significantly lower than that of women in the control group (n¼50) (1.3 (0.2) METs (mean, standard deviation) versus 1.2 (0.2) METs; difference in means 0.1 METs (95% confidence interval: 0.19, 0.01); p¼0.021). Women predicted to deliver macrosomic infants also spent significantly more time in sedentary behaviour (r1 MET) than the control group (16.1 (2.8) hours versus 13.8 (4.3) hours; 2.0 hours (0.3, 3.7), p¼0.020).

Key conclusions and implications for practice: although there was no association between predicted fetal macrosomia and energy balance, those women predicted to deliver a macrosomic infant exhibited increased sedentary behaviour and reduced physical activity in the third trimester of pregnancy. Professionals caring for women during pregnancy have an important role in promoting and supporting more active lifestyles amongst women who are predicted to deliver a macrosomic infant given the known associated risks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1202-1209
Number of pages8
Issue number12
Early online date05 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


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