Congratulations to HALO researchers Dr. Kristi Adamo, PhD student Kendra Brett and Dr. Zach Ferraro as well as CHEO Research Institute Scientist Dr. Martin holcik on being recently awarded a CHEO Research Institute Growth Award for their project, “Does regular physical activity during pregnancy effect placental gene expression?” A summary of the project is below.
ABSTRACT: Sir David Barker, who devoted his life to research examining the role of the intrauterine environment on downstream health, is famous for saying “the womb may be more important than the home”. No clearer testament is needed to signify the importance of engaging in behaviours that support a healthy pregnancy. Being born large for gestational age, an indicator of the fetal growing environment, is predictive of downstream child obesity yet the causal mechanism is still relatively unknown. Engaging in physical activity during pregnancy is known to contribute to pregnancy weight gain management and is associated with a reduction in birth weight extremes. The placenta is the key interface between a mother and her growing fetus, but little is known about how lifestyle behaviours such as physical activity may impact the placenta. The purpose of this study is to explore how regular physical activity affects placental gene expression, particularly genes involved in nutrient transport. We hypothesize that compared to inactive women, active women will have altered placental gene expression. Since this is the first study of its kind, we will examine placenta samples from active andinactive women who previously participated in a study called Active Mom! This novel work will contribute to our understanding of the relationship between physical activity level and placental gene expression and its potential association with fetal over-growth. It is necessary to fully understand these mechanisms before effective clinical strategies can be developed to protect against fetal overgrowth and potential presentation of downstream obesity.