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Active women give birth to smarter kids

Pregnant women who exercise three times a week can give birth to babies with better memories, researchers have revealed. They are more likely to have newborns with mature cognitive functions.

health and fitness Updated: Feb 18, 2010 19:57 IST

PregnancyResearchers say active women give birth to smarter kids and they are all set to prove it.

Canadian researchers at the University of Montreal say studies on animals already prove it, and they have now taken the task of proving it in humans. According to their hypothesis, the researchers say, pregnant women who exercise three times a week can give birth to babies with better memories.

To prove their hypothesis, they have enrolled 60 newly pregnant women, a university statement said.

"Our hypothesis is that mothers who exercise during pregnancy will have newborns with more mature cognitive functions, particularly long-term memory," said researcher Elise Labonte-Lemoyne, who is coordinating the study with neuropsychologist Dave Ellemberg.

The study will be conducted on the selected 60 women, aged between 20 and 35 years and first-time pregnant, during pregnancy and later with newborns.

The mental abilities of newborns will be measured using an electroencephalogram 10 days after birth, the researchers said.

"We will place a small net covered with sensors on the babies' heads to measure the cerebral activity," said Ellemberg. "The procedure is painless and lasts no more than 15 minutes. We can even do it as the babies sleep," he said.

He said the women will be split into two equal groups - one inactive and the other active with about 20 minutes of physical activity three times per week.

"We're not expecting women who are eight months' pregnant to run a marathon. A bit of exercise is better than none at all, while a bit more is better than just a bit," Ellemberg said.