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An intervention to encourage healthy weight gain during pregnancy is helping to fight obesity by supporting an initiative launched by the National Obesity Forum's campaign this week.

The School funded project 'Preventing obesity in pregnant women', led by Dr Kate Daley from the University of Birmingham, aims to assess the difference in weight gain per weeks of pregnancy between groups of pregnant women. Changes to weight gain during pregnancy will be monitored as well as changes in psychological health, quality of life, physical activity and diet quality.

In the Thames Valley, the trial was taken up by 49 pregnant women at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s John Radcliffe and Horton General Hospitals. Dr Lucy Mackillop, co-investigator in Oxford was been interviewed about the initiative and appeared on BBC One Today show where she said "We know that if we reduce excess weight gain during pregnancy, we can measurably improve the outcome for mum and baby."

Read the press release by the Oxfordshire's Clinical Trials Network. Findings from the research will be published in 2016.

Summary of trial:

During pregnancy many women gain too much weight because they do less physical activity and eat more food. Women who put on too much weight during pregnancy are at risk of having complications during pregnancy and labour and it can also negatively affect the short and longer term health of the baby. It is the weight women gain during pregnancy but fail to lose afterwards that could lead to them becoming obese or to women starting subsequent pregnancies in an unhealthy weight state. There is a need therefore to evaluate interventions delivered in primary care to prevent women gaining excessive weight during pregnancy. The ideal health professionals to help women do this are community midwives since they see women regularly throughout prregnancy. After completing a feasibility/pilot study to refine the intervention we assessed the health benefits of an intervention delivered by community midwives to prevent women gaining too much weight during pregnancy compared to usual care.  658 women cared for by community midwives were recruited and randomised.  Women were recruited (and provide baseline weight) by the research team after they had their 10-14 weeks pregnancy scan.  The study recruited from four centres – Birmingham Women’s Hospital, John Radcliffe Hospital Oxford, South Warwickshire Hospital and Russell’s Hall Hospital Dudley.

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