C-reactive protein (CRP) during pregnancy has been associated with adverse maternal outcomes such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes mellitus. Randomized trials suggest that exercise programs may be associated with reductions in CRP in non-pregnant populations; however, such studies have not been conducted among pregnant women. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of an individually-tailored motivationally-matched exercise intervention on CRP in pregnant women.
The Behaviors Affecting Baby and You study was a randomized controlled trial of prenatal physical activity to prevent the development of gestational diabetes mellitus in women at increased risk. Women were randomized to either a 12-week exercise intervention (n = 84) or a comparison health and wellness intervention (n = 87). High sensitivity CRP (mg/dL) was measured using a commercial immunoassay kit. Physical activity was measured using the Pregnancy Physical Activity Questionnaire. Mixed model analyses were used to evaluate the impact of the intervention on change in CRP using an intent-to-treat approach.
CRP decreased (−0.09 mg/dL, 95 % CI: −0.25, 0.07) from pre- to post-intervention in the exercise arm (p = 0.14) and increased (0.08 mg/dL, 95 % CI: −0.07, 0.24) (p = 0.64) in the health and wellness arm; however the between group difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.14). Findings did not differ according to ethnic group or pre-pregnancy body mass index. In a secondary analysis based on self-reported physical activity, women who decreased their time spent in sports/exercise experienced a mean increase in CRP (0.09 mg/dL, 95 % CI: −0.14, 0.33), whereas women who maintained or increased their sports/ exercise experienced a mean decrease in CRP (−0.08 mg/dL, 95 % CI: −0.23, 0.08) (p = 0.046).
Findings from this randomized trial in an ethnically and socio-economically diverse population of pregnant women were consistent with a positive impact of the exercise intervention on CRP levels, but not of statistical significance.
Clinical trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00728377. Registered 2 August 2008.