About PEARLS Project :
Improving women’s diet and physical activity during pregnancy can impact their
offspring’s future health.
Many women are overweight before pregnancy and as expected continue to gain weight while bearing their babies. However, excessive weight gain in pregnancy is both bad for mom and her unborn child. One important reason is because being overweight during pregnancy can raise mom’s blood sugar levels and blood pressure, which can cause diabetes and other serious complications of pregnancy such as pre eclampsia. Children born to overweight or obese women are at much higher risk of becoming obese during childhood and developing diabetes, hypertension and heart disease when they grow-up. Healthy diet and physical activity during pregnancy and early childhood may also have several other benefits.
The PEARLS trial is among the first randomized clinical trial of lifestyle intervention in pregnancy and early infancy. This study was developed by a research team from the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus, led by epidemiologists Drs Kaumudi Joshipura (Medical Sciences Campus of the University of Puerto Rico) and Paul Franks (Lund University Diabetes Center in Sweden).The trial is part of a large multi-center study funded by the National Institutes of Health that was developed to find out the specific impact of encouraging overweight pregnant women to eat healthier and be more active during their pregnancy and lactation period on weight gain during and after pregnancy. Other important outcomes include whether this will improve their blood sugar levels, as well as the health of their babies during their first year of life. The investigators believe that the knowledge they obtain will help improve the care women receive during pregnancy, their health and the health of their babies.
Women who take part in the study must be 18 or older and enroll in the study before 16 weeks of their pregnancy. Eligibility criteria include: overweight or obese, free of diabetes and other criteria that will be evaluated prior to enrollment. All women will receive information about health and wellbeing and will receive regular pre-natal care at the University Hospital. The University Hospital is a highly specialized clinical center which provides pre natal care, access to a state of the art antenatal diagnosis unit with capacity for recordable 4D ultrasound, and recently renovated labor room facility. The maternity floor also offers rooming in with breastfeeding assistance both from hospital staff as well as WIC sponsored program. About half of the 400 pregnant women enrolled in the study will be helped to follow a specially designed program of diet, physical activity. During the study, we will collect information about lifestyle, body composition, and other health-related factors, and also collect some specimens.