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Br J Sports Med. 2012 Mar;46(4):279-83. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2010.080259. Epub 2011 Mar 10.

Fetal wellbeing may be compromised during strenuous exercise among pregnant elite athletes.

Author information

  • 1National Center for Fetal Medicine, Trondheim University Hospital (St Olav's Hospital), Trondheim, Norway. pepes@ntnu.no

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To study fetal wellbeing and uteroplacental blood flow during strenuous treadmill running in the second trimester.

METHODS:

Six pregnant Olympic-level athletes in endurance events aged 28-37 years and training 15-22 h per week before the pregnancy were tested once at 23-29 weeks of pregnancy. The women ran three to five submaximal workloads on a treadmill with approximately 60-90% of maximal oxygen consumption. The maternal-fetal circulation was assessed with Doppler ultrasound of the uterine and umbilical arteries before, during and after exercise.

RESULTS:

Mean uterine artery volume blood flow was reduced to 60-80% after warming up and stayed at 40-75% of the initial value during exercise. Fetal heart rate (FHR) was within the normal range (110-160 bpm) as long as the woman exercised below 90% of maximal maternal heart rate (MHR). Fetal bradycardia and high umbilical artery pulsatility index (PI) occurred when the woman exercised more than 90% of maximal MHR and the mean uterine artery volume blood flow was less than 50% of the initial value. FHR and umbilical artery PI normalised quickly after stopping the exercise.

CONCLUSIONS:

Exercise at intensity above 90% of maximal MHR in pregnant elite athletes may compromise fetal wellbeing.

PMID:
21393257
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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