Background: Physical activity (PA) during pregnancy has been shown to be associated with several positive effects for mother, fetus, and offspring. Heart rate variability (HRV) is a noninvasive and surrogate marker to determine fetal overall health and the development of fetal autonomic nervous system. In addition, it has been shown to be significantly influenced by maternal behavior. However, the influence of maternal PA on HRV has not yet been systematically reviewed. Therefore, the aim of this systematic review was to assess the influence of regular maternal PA on maternal, fetal or infant HRV.
Methods: A systematic literature search following a priori formulated criteria of studies that examined the influence of regular maternal PA (assessed for a minimum period of 6 weeks) on maternal, fetal or infant HRV was performed in the databases Pubmed and SPORTDiscus. Quality of each study was assessed using the standardized Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies (QATQS).
Results: Nine articles were included into the present systematic review: two intervention studies, one prospective longitudinal study, and six post-hoc analysis of subsets of the longitudinal study. ... mehr