BACKGROUND: Associations of maternal leisure time physical activity with birth size are inconsistent. Roles of infant sex and maternal prepregnancy body mass index (BMI) in these associations have not been studied.
METHODS: Participants (N = 3,310) in the Omega study, a cohort in Washington State (1996-2008), reported leisure time physical activity duration and energy expenditure in the year prepregnancy and in early pregnancy (mean 15 weeks gestation). Regression models estimated mean differences in infant head circumference, birthweight, and ponderal index (birthweight/length) across quartiles of pre- or early-pregnancy leisure time physical activity. We assessed effect modification by infant sex or prepregnancy overweight/obese status (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m).
RESULTS: We observed positive associations between prepregnancy leisure time physical activity and head circumference overall and among male infants. Among males, each quartile increase in prepregnancy physical activity duration was associated with 0.14 cm (95% confidence interval = 0.046, 0.24; trend P = 0.004) greater head circumference. We did not observe associations between leisure time physical activity and birthweight or ponderal index overall. Each quartile increase in pre- or early-pregnancy physical activity duration was associated with 17-23 g lower birthweight among female infants and among women with normal prepregnancy BMI.
CONCLUSIONS: We observed positive associations between prepregnancy leisure time physical activity and head circumference among male infants, and inverse associations of pre- and early-pregnancy physical activity with birthweight among female infants and women with normal prepregnancy BMI. Future studies should confirm results and elucidate mechanisms of observed associations.