Even moderate exercise during pregnancy increases a compound in breast milk that reduces a baby’s lifelong risks of serious health issues such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
“We've done studies in the past that have shown that maternal exercise improves the health of offspring, but in this study, we wanted to begin to answer the question of why,” said Kristin Stanford
, a researcher at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s Diabetes and Metabolism Research Center and lead author of the study. “Because there is evidence that breast milk plays a major role, we wanted to isolate the effects of breast milk on offspring health.”
Stanford and her team worked with researchers at the University of California, San Diego, Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, and the Joslin Diabetes Center. They studied mice born from sedentary mothers and fed them milk from mothers who were active throughout pregnancy. They found that the health benefits from fit moms transferred to the pups, proving that they were, in fact, passed through breast milk and not simply inherited genetic traits.
Researchers also followed about 150 pregnant and postpartum women using activity trackers and found that those who had more steps per day had an increased amount of a compound known as 3SL in their breast milk, which they believe is responsible for these health benefits.
Watch the video below to learn more.