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4 November 2015, 06:00
Women who feel depressed in pregnancy are more likely to sit down, which increases their risk of weight gain and diabetes, research suggests.
A study from experts at Warwick Medical School found that sitting down for around six hours a day during the second trimester led to greater weight gain and diabetes in pregnancy, which can harm both mother and baby.
Dr Nithya Sukumar, who led the study of 1,263 women, presented her findings at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Edinburgh.
She said: "Pregnant women could benefit from early intervention to improve their physical and mental health and reduce the risks associated with sedentary behaviour.
"Gestational diabetes can increase the risk of birth complications for the mother and baby and so it is important we minimise this risk by reducing the time that pregnant women spend sitting down.''
During the study, women were asked about their levels of physical activity and emotional well-being in the first trimester of pregnancy, and then again in the late stages of the second.
Overall, women who said they had symptoms of depression were more likely to sit down for longer periods.
Those who spent most time sitting down in the second trimester also took less exercise and gained significant amounts of weight between the first and second trimester.
Dr Ponnusamy Saravanan, from Warwick Medical School, said: "Encouraging women to take breaks from sitting down might be an easier public health policy to implement than increasing their physical activity during pregnancy.
"We believe reducing the sitting time has the potential to reduce pregnant women's risk of gestational diabetes and reduce the metabolic risk factors of their newborns.''