B.S., Biology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Many maternal behaviors are harmful to a developing fetus because a detrimental intrauterine environment is created. For instance, excessive alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been extensively studied and is known to result in mental and physical defects in the child. David Barker was the first to correlate malnutrition during pregnancy with adulthood diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes in offspring. Little work however, has been done to investigate ways in which pregnant women can create a healthier intrauterine environment that can help lower offspring’s susceptibility to disease. Exercise is widely recognized as an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and is known to improve cardiovascular and metabolic health, but seemingly few people have the time or motivation to include physical activity in their daily schedule. If exercise during pregnancy could not only protect the individual against cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but also her developing child in utero, there could be more incentive to exercise. The hypothesis for this proposal is that maternal exercise will improve glucose regulation in offspring by increasing offspring insulin sensitivity. This short term maternal intervention will lead to lifelong health benefits for offspring by decreasing susceptibility to adulthood disease. In addition to providing health benefits to offspring of healthy women, exercise can be used as an intervention to improve health of obese pregnant women and those with gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes, characterized by poor glucose regulation during pregnancy, occurs in approximately 2 – 10% of pregnancies in the United States and causes complications in mother and fetus. A further goal of this proposal is to determine whether maternal exercise can be used as a non-pharmacological treatment that will improve glucose regulation in pregnant dams and therefore, stabilize the nutrient load reaching the fetus.
Carter, L.G.;Qi, N.R.;Cabo, R.;Pearson, K.J. "Maternal Exercise Improves Insulin Sensitivity in Mature Rat Offspring." Medicine and science in sports and exercise (2012).
Carter, L.G.;Lewis, K.N.;Wilkerson, D.C.;Tobia, C.M.;Ngo Tenlep, S.Y.;Shridas, P.;Garcia-Cazarin, M.L.;Wolff, G.;Andrade, F.H.;Charnigo, R.J.;Esser, K.A.;Egan, J.M.;Cabo, R.;Pearson, K.J. "Perinatal exercise improves glucose homeostasis in adult offspring." American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism 303, 8 (2012): E1061-8.