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Using Dynamical Systems Modeling to Understand the effects of an Individually Tailored Prenatal Weight Gain Intervention on Fetal Growth and Postnatal Obesity Risk

  • National Institute of Health/NHLBI (R56)
  • CTSI, Penn State University
  • PI: Dr. Jennifer Savage Williams, CCOR

The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of the intrauterine environment on fetal growth. By using the existing Healthy Mom Zone infrastructure, prospective data collection on the fetal environment will help to clarify how the gestational weight gain intervention impacts fetal growth and development. This piece adds measures of fetal growth to the parent study, including: ultrasounds (fetal growth, placenta weight/size, amniotic fluid), blood biomarkers (micro-nutrient status), urine collections (stress), and sleep measures. Indicators of fetal growth will be used to help inform the dynamical intervention model that characterizes the effects of the intrauterine environment on fetal and infant growth over time.This research has the potential for a paradigm shift in obesity prevention by changing the way researchers and clinicians approach the prenatal period, as a critical opportunity in the life cycle to prevent obesity and cardiovascular disease in both mothers and their children.

Fetal growth indicators are collected at the Penn State Clinical Research Center (CRC) by a trained sonographer with Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer certification using a Philips iU22 MAXTRIX ultrasound system. Routine measures include biparietal diameter (BPD), abdominal circumference, femur length, head circumference, heart rate, amount of amniotic fluid and placental volume. Estimated fetal weight is calculated using these measures and polynomial equations.