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Social, biological, behavioural and psychological factors related to physical activity during early pregnancy in the Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints (Cork, Ireland) cohort study
  1. Caragh Flannery1,2,
  2. Darren Dahly2,3,
  3. Molly Byrne1,
  4. Ali Khashan2,4,
  5. Sheena McHugh2,
  6. Louise C Kenny5,
  7. Fionnuala McAuliffe6,7,
  8. Patricia M Kearney2
  1. 1 School of Psychology, Health Behaviour Change Research Group, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland
  2. 2 School of Public Health, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  3. 3 Health Research Board, Clinical Research Facility Cork, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  4. 4 The Irish Centre for Fetal and Neonatal Translational Research (INFANT), University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  5. 5 Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, University of Liverpool School of Life Sciences, Liverpool, UK
  6. 6 UCD Perinatal Research Centre, School of Medicine, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  7. 7 National Maternity Hospital, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Caragh Flannery; cflannery{at}


Objective The aim of this study was to identify the social, biological, behavioural and psychological factors related to physical activity (PA) in early pregnancy.

Design This is a secondary analysis of data from a prospective cohort study.

Setting The study was conducted in Cork, Ireland.

Participants Nulliparous women with singleton pregnancies were recruited and then interviewed at 15±1 weeks’ gestation.

Primary and secondary outcomes The biopsychosocial model identified factors including social (age), biological (body mass index), behavioural (diet) and psychological (anxiety) at 15±1 weeks’ gestation. PA subgroups were identified based on a latent class analysis of their responses to a set of questions about the amount and intensity of activity they were engaging in during the pregnancy. Associations were estimated with multivariable multinomial logistic regression models.

Results From a total of 2579, 1774 (69%) women were recruited; ages ranged from 17 to 45 years. Based on a combination of model fit, theoretical interpretability and classification quality, the latent class analyses identified three PA subgroups: low PA (n=393), moderate PA (n=960) and high PA (n=413). The fully adjusted model suggests non-smokers, and consumers of fruit and vegetables were more likely to be in the high PA subgroup (vs low). Women with more than 12 years of schooling and a higher socioeconomic status were more likely to be in the moderate PA subgroup (vs low).

Conclusion The findings highlight potential links between PA, a low education level and a low socioeconomic background. These factors should be considered for future interventions to improve low PA levels during pregnancy.

Trial registration number ACTRN 12607000551493.

  • public health
  • pregnancy
  • physical activity
  • exercise

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  • Contributors CF, AK, DD and SMMH formulated the overarching study aims and methodology. Data management was controlled by CF, who selected appropriate variables, cleaned and maintained the research data. DD conducted the latent class analysis and CF conducted the formal analysis, running the multinomial logistic regression. CF wrote the initial draft of the paper. MB, FMA, PMK and LCK contributed to successive drafts, reviewing and editing. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This work was supported by Health Research Board Ireland (CSA/2007/2). LCK and AK are supported by a Science Foundation Ireland Program Grant for INFANT (12/RC/2272). CF is funded by the Health Research Board SPHeRE/2013/1.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The SCOPE study was approved by the local ethics committee (Cork ECM5 (10) 05/02/08), all women provided written informed consent and the data were anonymised. For this study, research approval was obtained from the SCOPE team (RAF 3.66) and from the University College Cork, Office of Technology Transfer RU/2015/203.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement All data generated or analysed during the current study are available from the SCOPE team on reasonable request.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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