Mount Sinai Program Addresses Needs of Underserved High-Risk Pregnant Women to Control Weight Gain

Mount Sinai’s Lifestyle Modification Program has expanded its services to aid women in minimizing weight gain during pregnancy.

New York, NY
 – October 26, 2010 /Press Release/  –– 

The Mount Sinai Medical Center has partnered with the March of Dimes Foundation to expand their Lifestyle Modification Program (LMP), a comprehensive educational program for underserved obese pregnant women to aid them in minimizing weight-gain throughout their pregnancies. The expansion is a result of a Mount Sinai study, published in the May issue of American Journal of Perinatology, showing that education and counseling reduces weight gain during pregnancy by about half.

An estimated 23.6 percent of women aged 18 to 44 in the United States were obese in 2007, compared to just 14.5 percent in 1997, according to the March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System of the Centers for Disease Control. Obesity has been linked to multiple medical problems during pregnancy, including hypertension, preemclampsia, and pregestational diabetes, as well as fetal risks including neonatal respiratory distress and preterm delivery.

"We are still combating the notion that a pregnant mother is ‘eating for two,’ and for already overweight women, this myth is dangerous," said Taraneh Shirazian, MD, Director of Global Health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Principal Investigator of the LMP study.

For the study, researchers analyzed 41 pregnant women with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater over a two-year period. The study group, consisting of 21 women, received educational materials, a pedometer, and a diary to record food intake and walking completed. They also participated in seminars on healthy living, nutrition and exercise, followed by one-on-one counseling sessions and phone calls. Compared to the control group, women who participated in the LMP gained about half as much weight during pregnancy. Participants in both groups were selected based on similar BMI, age, ethnicity, and parity.

"Our study proved that education and encouragement are major motivating factors for controlling weight gain during pregnancy," said Dr. Shirazian who is also an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Member of the Board of Directors for Saving Mothers, a women’s health organization dedicated to reducing maternal morbidity and mortality. "Since it was published, we’ve been able to increase services to more than 60 patients plus their friends and families who are welcome to attend seminars," she said. "We’ve also expanded our program to include offerings such as cooking and dance lessons and are working on creating educational web videos. Finally, thanks to the March of Dimes, we are able to provide our patients with take-home tools like a healthy eating cookbook, grocery store certificates, and a prenatal exercise video."

The research team at Mount Sinai, including Research Coordinators Jennifer Carleton-Nathan, Anna Starikovsky and Alana Griffith, encourages lifestyle changes that are easily accessible in New York City, such as frequenting grocery stores in walking distance, using community parks, free community pools, and green markets.

"Our goal is to give future mothers a chance to learn how to best take care of their bodies during this wonderful time in their lives and beyond. We introduce them to simple eating and exercise techniques that gently modify their habits to promote the health of both baby and mother," said Ms. Starikovsky. "We hope the proven success of our program leads to the replication of the LMP in other hospitals nationwide."

About The Mount Sinai Medical Center

The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Established in 1968, Mount Sinai School of Medicine is one of few medical schools embedded in a hospital in the United States. It has more than 3,400 faculty in 32 departments and 15 institutes, and ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institute of Health funding and by U.S. News & World Report. The school received the 2009 Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Service from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation's oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks The Mount Sinai Hospital among the nation's best hospitals based on reputation, patient safety, and other patient-care factors. Nearly 60,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients last year, and approximately 530,000 outpatient visits took place.

For more information, visit www.mountsinai.org. Follow us on Twitter @mountsinainyc.

About The March of Dimes

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit: www.marchofdimes.com/ny or www.nacersano.org.