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Uncontrolled Eating during Pregnancy Predicts Fetal Growth: The Healthy Mom Zone Trial

Savage, Jennifer S., Hohman, Emily E., McNitt, Katherine M., Pauley, Abigail M., Leonard, Krista S., Turner, Tricia, Pauli, Jaimey M., Gernand, Alison D., Rivera, Daniel E., Symons Downs, Danielle
Nutrients 2019 v.11 no.4
body mass index, cognition, data analysis, eating disorders, eating habits, fetal development, fetal macrosomia, fetus, food frequency questionnaires, obesity, pregnancy, pregnant women, ultrasonics, weight gain
Excess maternal weight gain during pregnancy elevates infants’ risk for macrosomia and early-onset obesity. Eating behavior is also related to weight gain, but the relationship to fetal growth is unclear. We examined whether Healthy Mom Zone, an individually tailored, adaptive gestational weight gain intervention, and maternal eating behaviors affected fetal growth in pregnant women (n = 27) with a BMI > 24. At study enrollment (6–13 weeks gestation) and monthly thereafter, the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire was completed. Ultrasounds were obtained monthly from 14–34 weeks gestation. Data were analyzed using multilevel modeling. Higher baseline levels of uncontrolled eating predicted faster rates of fetal growth in late gestation. Cognitive restraint was not associated with fetal growth, but moderated the effect of uncontrolled eating on fetal growth. Emotional eating was not associated with fetal growth. Among women with higher baseline levels of uncontrolled eating, fetuses of women in the control group grew faster and were larger in later gestation than those in the intervention group (study group × baseline uncontrolled eating × gestational week interaction, p = 0.03). This is one of the first intervention studies to use an individually tailored, adaptive design to manage weight gain in pregnancy to demonstrate potential effects on fetal growth. Results also suggest that it may be important to develop intervention content and strategies specific to pregnant women with high vs. low levels of disinhibited eating.