Maternal Exercise Uncovers Placental Insufficiency in Diabetic Mothers
Regular physical activity during pregnancy improves or maintains physical fitness, helps with weight management, reduces the risk of gestational diabetes, and enhances patient’s psychological well-being. We studied the possibility to use maternal exercise to test placental reserves in diabetic mothers. We used a motorized treadmill in a moderate exercise regimen (15-minute fast walk at a speed of 3 mph with an incline of 15-25 degrees). Fetal monitoring was provided by using standard Phillips equipment (Avalon CTS and FM40). Adverse fetal outcomes were considered if one or more of the following were present: Category III Fetal Heart Rate (FHR) tracing, 5-minute Apgar score of less than 7, admission to the neonatal intensive care nursery, fetal growth restriction, and fetal and early neonatal death. A total of 819 fetal assessments were performed: 160 patients had gestational diabetes, 80 had pregestational diabetes. The most common complication in fetuses with positive prenatal test results was abnormal FHR in labor (36%) followed by low Apgar score (21%) and need for NICU admission (19%). Most of the adverse outcomes had good correlation with positive results of the exercise test. In conclusion, it appears that maternal exercise causes changes in FHR, which may be used to assess placental and fetal reserves.