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BackgroundEvidence from epidemiological and animal studies support the concept of programming fetal, neonatal, and adult health in response to in utero exposures such as maternal obesity and lifestyle variables. Excess gestational weight gain (GWG), maternal physical activity, and sub-optimal and excess nutrition during pregnancy may program the offspring's risk of obesity. Maternal intake of dairy foods rich in high-quality proteins, calcium, and vitamin D may influence later bone health status. Current clinical practice guidelines for managing GWG are not founded on randomized trials and lack specific active intervention ingredients. The Be Healthy in Pregnancy (BHIP) study is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) designed to test the effectiveness of a novel structured and monitored Nutrition + Exercise intervention in pregnant women of all pre-pregnancy weight categories (except extreme obesity), delivered through prenatal care in community settings (rather than in hospital settings), on the likelihood of women achieving recommended GWG and a benefit to bone status of offspring and mother at birth and sixmonths postpartum.MethodsThe BHIP study is a two-site RCT that will recruit up to 242 participants aged >18years at 12-17 weeks of gestation. After baseline measures, participants are randomized to either a structured and monitored Nutrition + Exercise (intervention) or usual care (control) program for the duration of their pregnancy. The primary outcome of the study is the percent of women who achieve GWG within the Institute of Medicine (IOM) guidelines. The secondary outcomes include: (1) maternal bone status via blood bone biomarkers during pregnancy; (2) infant bone status in cord blood; (3) mother and infant bone status measured by dual-energy absorptiometry scanning (DXA scan) at sixmonths postpartum; (4) other measures including maternal blood pressure, blood glucose and lipid profiles, % body fat, and postpartum weight retention; and (5) infant weight z-scores and fat mass at sixmonths of age.DiscussionIf effective, this RCT will generate high-quality evidence to refine the nutrition guidelines during pregnancy to improve the likelihood of women achieving recommended GWG. It will also demonstrate the importance of early nutrition on bone health in the offspring.
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