Does leisure time physical activity in early pregnancy protect against pre-eclampsia? Prospective cohort in Danish women

M L Østerdal, M Strøm, A K Klemmensen, V K Knudsen, M Juhl, T I Halldorsson, A-M Nybo Andersen, P Magnus, S F Olsen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To examine the association between physical activity in early pregnancy and risk of pre-eclampsia.

DESIGN: Prospective cohort.

SETTING: Denmark.

POPULATION: A total of 85,139 pregnant Danish women, recruited between 1996 and 2002.

METHODS: The authors assessed leisure time physical activity in first trimester by a telephone interview and categorised women a priori into seven groups: 0 (reference), 1-44, 45-74, 75-149, 150-269, 270-419 and 420+ minutes/week. Pre-eclampsia diagnoses were extracted from the Danish National Patient Registry. A number of potential confounders were adjusted for by logistic regression.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Pre-eclampsia and severe pre-eclampsia.

RESULTS: The two highest physical activity levels were associated with increased risk of severe pre-eclampsia compared with the nonexercising group, with adjusted odds ratios of 1.65 (95% CI: 1.11-2.43) and 1.78 (95% CI: 1.07-2.95), whereas more moderate levels of physical activity (1-270 minutes/week) had no statistically significant association with risk of pre-eclampsia (total n = 85,139).

CONCLUSIONS: We were unable to document a protective effect of leisure time physical activity against pre-eclampsia. Our data even suggest that leisure time physical activity exceeding 270 minutes/week in first trimester may increase risk of severe pre-eclampsia.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBJOG : an international journal of obstetrics and gynaecology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)98-107
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009


  • Adult
  • Denmark
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Journal Article
  • Leisure Activities
  • Pre-Eclampsia
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Young Adult

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