BATON ROUGE, LA (AP) - The risks that go along with obesity like heart disease, diabetes and stroke, are well known. If a woman is overweight or obese while pregnant, the risks are even greater.
"We know that women who gain too much weight during pregnancy are at risk for hypertension during pregnancy as well as pre-term birth," said Pennington Biomedical Research Center associate professor Dr. Corby Martin.
The risks can carry on to the child. Research shows children born to obese mothers, are more likely to become obese or develop diabetes and other problems. A new study called, Expecting Success is looking to change that.
"There is currently no magic bullet beyond healthy living. So we know women who can modify their diet as well as increase their activity tend to achieve a number of benefits as well as manage their body weight," said Martin.
In 2009, the Institute for Medicine revised the weight gain guidelines during pregnancy. According to those guidelines, a woman who is overweight at the start of pregnancy should only gain 15-25 pounds. An obese woman should only gain 11-20 pounds.
"It's not very much weight when you consider that the baby will weigh about eight pounds, and then there are other things that will grow in the mom to support the baby," said Dr. Leanne Redman of Pennington. "It's not very much weight gain at all."
Pennington Biomedical Research Center and Woman's Hospital have teamed up for a state of the art study looking at the best ways to manage weight gain during pregnancy according to the IOM guidelines.
"If they're eligible we'll invite them to start in the second trimester. Each mom if they're assigned to the weigh management program which is called smart moms, will be assigned her very own lifestyle coach or lifestyle councilor," said Redman.
The Expecting Success program is looking for 306 women to participate. To qualify, a mother must meet these criteria:
- Pregnant in the first trimester
- 18-40 years old
- Overweight or obese
- Planning to deliver at Woman's
- Living in Baton Rouge for next two years
- Speak, read and understand English
Women who qualify will be assigned to one of three personalized weight management programs. The first is a physician directed program. The second is a Smart Moms-Clinic program that includes advice from a lifestyle counselor. The third is a Smart Moms-Phone program which uses a smart phone app to connect the patient and her councilor as well as keep track of progress.
"We realize that motherhood is what is called a teachable moment. It's the time in people's lives when they are willing to make more changes, especially healthy ones. By impacting the mom during her pregnancy, we can potentially impact her health and the health of her family for the rest of their lives," said Redman.
The study will follow the women through the first year of their child's life. The hope is that Expecting Success can develop into a program that can be applied to thousands of women around the nation.