ST. LOUIS, June 7 (UPI) -- Obese moms-to-be can safely exercise and diet to lose weight during pregnancy, found a small pilot study by Saint Louis University researchers.
"Doctors hadn't encouraged pregnant women who were obese to limit their weight gain or have them lose weight because they were afraid it would hurt the baby," principal investigator Dr. Raul Artal, of Saint Louis University, said in a statement.
"We found that obese women do not have to gain any weight, and, in fact, can lose weight and it won't hurt the baby. Pregnancy is an ideal time to start an exercise and fitness program, particularly for women who are obese."
The study flies in the face of the "eat for two" and "take it easy" advice that obstetricians gave to a past generation of pregnant women, according to Artal.
Artal examined two groups of pregnant women who were obese and had gestational diabetes -- a type of diabetes that starts during pregnancy. More women who exercised and dieted either lost or maintained their weight than women in the group that followed the standard diabetic diet.
Babies born to women who lost or maintained their weight were more likely to be of normal size, according to the study published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.