INTRODUCTION: Women with a pregnancy complicated by preeclampsia, intra-uterine growth restriction and/or gestational diabetes are at increased risk of future cardiovascular and metabolic disease. Lifestyle intervention may help these women to effectively lower these risks.
OBJECTIVES: To test if offering lifestyle intervention after a complicated pregnancy significantly reduces weight (primary objective) and/or other cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors (secondary objective).
METHODS: The Pro-Active study (Postpartum Rotterdam Appraisal of Cardiovascular health and Tailored Intervention) is a feasibility study to develop and evaluate a postpartum lifestyle intervention program. In a prospective case-control setting we tested the effect of the lifestyle intervention. Women were included between April 2007 and August 2009. They were eligible if ⩾18 years old at time of inclusion, being able to understand and speak the Dutch language and not having pre-existing conditions that could interfere with the lifestyle intervention. Cases were offered lifestyle intervention by a trained counsellor between 6 and 10 months postpartum. During 3 private sessions, mainly exercise and fat-intake and to some extend smoking habits were discussed and aims were made to improve lifestyle. Controls did not receive these sessions, but were not restricted to improve lifestyle on their own. Anthropometric and laboratory measurements were taken at 6 and 10 months postpartum and again at 13 months postpartum to test for durability of the effects.
RESULTS: During our study 1121 women gave birth after a complicated pregnancy. Four hundred and ninety Women were eligible for the study of which 240 women (49%) gave informed consent to participate. 56 Women (23%) were lost-to-follow-up, leaving 186 women for the analysis. Between 6 and 13 months postpartum weight was significantly reduced in cases compared to controls by 2.1kg (95%>CI 0.4-3.7), resulting in a 0.7kg/m(2) (0.1-1.3) lower BMI. Also systolic blood pressure (5.0mmHg(0.3-9.7)), waist circumference (4.6cm(2.6-6.6)) and waist-to-hip ratio (0.03(0.01-0.04)) were significantly improved in cases compared to controls. Heart rate, hip circumference and total cholesterol were significantly improved within cases, but not compared to controls. Diastolic blood pressure and fasting glucose were not improved.
CONCLUSION: Lifestyle intervention after complicated pregnancy may be effective in lowering weight and improving other cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors. It suggests that now is prudent and justified to start a large-scale randomised controlled trial to validate our results.