Comparison of cognitive function in athlete and non-athlete pregnant women
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Paper ID : 1478-12THCONG
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Ph.D, Faculty of Humanities, Bojnord University
Many women complain of a decline in cognitive function during pregnancy. The results of meta-analyzes have also revealed a significant decline in cognitive and executive function as well as memory deficits during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester of pregnancy. On the other hand, extensive human and animal studies have demonstrated that the brain responds significantly to exercises and physical activities have a beneficial effect on the central nervous system and cognition. The purpose of this study is to compare cognitive function in athlete and non-athlete pregnant women.

This is a causal-comparative study. The study population consisted of two groups of athlete and non-athlete women. Using non-random multi-stage sampling method, 90 pregnant women in the age range of 20-40 years who were in the third trimester of pregnancy and lived in Bojnoord city were selected. Thirty of participants exercised regularly, and the other 60 had no experience of regular exercise. To control confounding factors, all samples were selected from among people without any history of physical illness including diabetes, hypertension, mental disorders, drug addiction, infertility, psychological crises such as divorce, death of relatives or congenital malformations in first-degree family members.
The cognitive function was measured using the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test. This is one of the most accurate tests for measuring executive action in the frontal and prefrontal areas of brain. A Cronbach's alpha coefficient of 0.94 has confirmed its reliability in Iranian subjects. Data was analyzed using independent t-test.

There were significant differences between the two groups in the item of categories achieved (concept retention) and perseverative errors (concept formation, benefiting from correction and cognitive flexibility) (p<0.05). The results exhibited that the mean cognitive function of pregnant women with exercise experience was significantly higher than those without such experience. (p<0.05)

Given the common cognitive deficits during pregnancy and the possible role of physical activity in their reduction, it is essential to develop physical programs during pregnancy and encourage women to pursue an active lifestyle seems necessary.