More than two-thirds of such women gain an unhealthy amount of weight during their pregnancy, said study co-leader Leanne Redman, an assistant professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
“We are not just talking about an extra five pounds — it’s more like 30-50 pounds above international recommendations,” she said.
The study will divide the women into three groups. All will get a personalized weight control program during their pregnancy and during their baby’s first year.
One will get advice from a lifestyle counselor by smartphone; another will get such advice from a counselor in person; and the third will get advice from their doctors.
They’ll also get free wellness visits and screenings at Woman’s Hospital, and will be asked to keep track of their diet and physical activity.
The program is part of a national study of 2,032 women at seven institutions around the country. Each has a different study as part of LIFE-Moms, or Lifestyle Interventions in Expectant Moms. Others in the consortium include Northwestern University at St. Louis and Columbia and Northwestern universities. Joint studies are in the works between California Polytechnic Institute and Brown University; the University of Puerto Rico and Harvard; and Phoenix Indian Medical Center and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
In addition to being overweight or obese, women in the Baton Rouge study must be 18 to 40 years old and either be planning to become pregnant or in their first trimester. They must also plan to live in the Baton Rouge area for the next two years and to deliver at Woman’s Hospital. Smokers won’t be accepted.
“We hope to discover that modern technology like smartphones can effectively deliver health information to pregnant women so that they gain weight according to international guidelines,” said Redman.