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Lifestyle counseling during pregnancy and offspring weight development until four years of age: follow-up study of a controlled trial

Taina Mustila12*, Jani Raitanen34, Päivi Keskinen5, Antti Saari6 and Riitta Luoto37

Author Affiliations

1 Central Hospital of Vaasa, Hietalahdenkatu 2 – 4, 65130, Vaasa, Finland

2 Central Hospital of Seinäjoki, Hanneksenrinne 7, 60220, Seinäjoki, Finland

3 UKK Institute for Health Promotion, 33501, Tampere, Finland

4 Tampere School of Health Sciences, 33014 University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland

5 Pediatric Research Centre, 33014 University of Tampere, and Tampere University Hospital, 33521, Tampere, Finland

6 University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio University Hospital, 70211, Kuopio, Finland

7 National Institute for Health and Welfare, 00271, Helsinki, Finland

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Journal of Negative Results in BioMedicine 2012, 11:11  doi:10.1186/1477-5751-11-11

Published: 8 May 2012



Fetal conditions are known to be partly responsible for the child’s risk for obesity. Our pilot study aimed to determine the effect of gestational lifestyle counseling on the offspring weight gain until 4 years of age and to estimate power for future studies.

Design and methods

First-time pregnant mothers participated in a controlled trial conducted in maternity health clinics during 2004 – 2006. The intervention included individual counseling on physical activity and diet, and an option to attend supervised group exercise sessions. The participant mothers (N = 109) received a follow-up questionnaire concerning 13 repeated growth measurements of their offspring. Response rate to the follow-up questionnaire was 66.1% (N = 72/109).


The increase of BMI z-score between 24–48 months was not significantly slower among the intervention group offspring (95% CI −0.025 to 0.009, p = 0.34) compared to control group. Z-scores for weight-for-length/height did not differ between groups when the period 0–48 months was analyzed (95% CI −0.010 to 0.014, p = 0.75).


In this pilot study gestational lifestyle counseling did not significantly slow the weight gain of the offspring. Gestational intervention studies with at least 300 mothers per group are needed to confirm the possible effect on offspring’s risk for obesity.

Trial registration

Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN21512277.

Pediatric; Intervention; Primary prevention; Childhood obesity; Diet therapy; Exercise; Follow-up; Controlled trial