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By Jo Alexander, Valerie Levy, Sarah Roch (eds.)

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Concern is also raised about inadequate dietary intake of vitamin A in the absence of liver, especially among lower socioeconomic groups (Nelson 1990; Saunders 1990). Whether or not the advice was alarmist, it serves to emphasise the fact that inappropriately high levels of vitamins may be harmful. Health care professionals and the general public alike, need to be aware of the potential dangers. vritten on the potentially protective action of vitamins against neural tube defects. Smithells et al (1981), having failed to obtain ethical approval for a double blind placebo trial, set up a multicentre intervention study.

Yet the general consensus is that exercise is beneficial, the majority of people feeling both psychological and physical. benefits (Bruser 1968; Katz 1985; Mellion 1985; Wolfe et al 1989; Fletcher 1991; Wiswell 1991). Intense exercise, however, may cause problems with the female reproductive system. d that there is a delay in breast development and menarche in girls who participate zealously in sporting activities. This is thought to be due to a reduced secretion of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone and hence, a decreased hormonal secretion by the ovaries (Hutton 1986; Drinkwater & Davajan 1991).

Lack of knowledge in the area of exercise and pregnancy could lead to a lost opportunity to promote a healthy lifestyle. Similarly, the current practice of inappropriate advice often given by some health professionals regarding exercise needs to be addressed. This chapter seeks to explore some of the literature available and considers how exercise may affect the course of pregnancy, the development of the fetus and the health of the mother. There is also some brief discussion about the value of exercise during the puerperium.

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