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The teratogenic risk associated with maternal hyperthermia (i.e., core temperature ≥39.0 °C) has been a crucial motive in understanding thermoregulatory responses in pregnancy. To date, a substantial number of studies have focused on core temperature responses in a wide range of exercise intensities, duration, and ambient temperatures. Fortunately, none have reported core temperatures exceeding 39.0 °C. Nonetheless, there are limited studies that have provided substantial insight into both dry and evaporative heat loss mechanisms involved in facilitating the maintenance of core temperature (≥39.0 °C) during heat stress in pregnant women. The purpose of this scoping review was to summarize the available literature that has assessed heat loss responses in studies of human pregnancy. A search strategy was developed combining the terms pregnancy, thermoregulation, and adaptation. A systematic search was performed in the following databases: PubMed, Embase, Scopus, and ProQuest. Studies eligible for inclusion included pregnant women between the ages of 18-40 years old, and at least one measurement of the following: sweating, blood flow, skin temperature, and behavioural responses. Retrieved data were categorized as evaporative (sweating), dry or behavioural heat loss responses and summarized narratively. Thirty-three studies were included in this review (twenty-nine measured physiological responses and four measured behavioural responses). Studies suggest that during exercise, evaporative (sweating) and dry (skin blood flow and temperature) heat loss responses increase from early to late pregnancy in addition to greater cardiac output, blood volume and reduced vascular resistance. Behavioural practices related to heat loss responses are also influenced by cultural/religious expectations, personal preferences and sociodemographics. The findings from this review suggest that pregnancy modifies evaporative (sweating), dry and behavioural heat loss. However, future studies have an opportunity to compare heat loss measurements accounting for gestational weight gain and thermal sensation/comfort scale to associate physiological responses with perceptual responses across pregnancy. Crown Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Sheila Dervis, Kayla Lerher Dobson, Taniya Singh Nagpal, Carla Geurts, François Haman, Kristi Bree Adamo. Heat loss responses at rest and during exercise in pregnancy: A scoping review. Journal of thermal biology. 2021 Jul;99:103011

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PMID: 34420641

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