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Nutrition During Pregnancy

Research suggests that nutrition during pregnancy may have long-lasting effects on an infant's predisposition to chronic disease such as obesity and diabetes.  Infants born larger and heavier than average are more likely to be heavier in childhood and frequently become overweight adults.

The Nutrition During Pregnancy Study aims to compare the impact of the current standard nutrition recommendations for a healthy pregnancy to a novel dietary approach designed to reduce blood glucose levels after meals among women at high risk for having a large baby due to overweight.  Professional health organizations have established comprehensive nutritional guidelines for pregnancy, but these diets are typically recommended without consideration of glycemic index.  Consumption of a high glycemic load diet leads to high blood glucose levels after meals and may affect growth of the baby and its long-term predisposition to obesity.

In this randomized clinical trial the goal is to compare the effects of a conventional low fat diet routinely recommended in pregnancy to a low GL load diet on infant birth weight and other measures of fetal growth among overweight or obese pregnant women.  Results show that consuming a low GL diet during the second and/or third trimester of pregnancy results in longer pregnancy duration, greater infant head circumference and improved maternal cardiovascular risk factors compared to women who consume a conventional low fat diet.

The research is led by researchers Erinn Rhodes, MD MPH (Study Director), Dorota Pawlak PhD and David Ludwig, MD, PhD at Children's Hospital Boston; with co-investigator Tamara Takoudes, MD, Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.