Physical activity during pregnancy and offspring neurodevelopment: A systematic review

Gloria Isabel Niño Cruz, Andrea Ramirez Varela, Inácio Crochemore M. da Silva, Pedro Curi Hallal, Iná S. Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Maternal physical activity (PA) during pregnancy could affect offspring's neurodevelopment. However, studies in humans in early childhood are scarce and show inconsistent results. We aimed to review the literature on the association between physical activity during pregnancy and offspring neurodevelopment. Methods: LILACS, MEDLINE and Web of Science were searched for studies published since 1977. Original studies conducted in humans, without language, country, or study type restriction, were eligible. Information on the study methodology like study design, sample size, PA exposure and neurodevelopment assessment, covariates, and the effect measure were extracted from the selected articles. Results: From 802 non-duplicated titles initially located, 6 articles were selected and included (one randomised clinical trial and 5 cohort studies). The instruments used to measure PA during pregnancy and neurodevelopment varied between the studies. PA was self-reported at different gestational ages and neurodevelopment was assessed prospectively in offspring aged 1-8 years old. Only the randomised clinical trial found no effect of PA over offspring neurodevelopment. Cohort studies found a positive association between PA practice during pregnancy and offspring neurodevelopment. Conclusions: These findings suggest that leisure-time physical activity practice may have positive association with language offspring's neurodevelopment in the age range of 18 from 60 months.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-379
Number of pages11
JournalPaediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • childhood
  • infancy
  • neurodevelopment
  • physical activity
  • pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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