Women who exercise during pregnancy are around a third less likely to develop gestational diabetes, and put on less weight - even if they normally do little or none, a study has found.
Gestational diabetes is a common pregnancy complication with up to 18 in every 100 women giving birth in Britain affected, although it is more prevalent in obese women.
It is associated with an increased risk of serious disorders such as pre- eclampsia, hypertension, pre-term birth, along with induced or caesarean births and can also have long-term effects on the mother, including impaired glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes.
The children of mothers with gestational diabetes are also more likely to become overweight or obese and have a higher risk of developing diabetes themselves.
The Spanish study looked at the results of enrolling healthy pregnant women who did little or no exercise into exercise programmes.
Analysis of 13 trials, involving more than 2,800 women, found that exercise reduced the risk of gestational diabetes by more than 30pc, while for women who exercised throughout pregnancy this was even greater at 36pc.
This effect was strongest for women who combined toning, strength, flexibility and aerobic exercise.