Objective: To investigate whether individual counselling on diet and physical activity during pregnancy can have positive effects on diet and leisure time physical activity (LTPA) and prevent excessive gestational weight gain.
Design: A controlled trial.
Setting: Six maternity clinics in primary health care in Finland. The clinics were selected into three intervention and three control clinics.
Subjects: Of the 132 pregnant primiparas, recruited by 15 public health nurses (PHN), 105 completed the study.
Interventions: The intervention included individual counselling on diet and LTPA during five routine visits to a PHN until 37 weeks' gestation; the controls received the standard maternity care.
Results: The counselling did not affect the proportion of primiparas exceeding the weight gain recommendations or total LTPA when adjusted for confounders. The adjusted proportion of high-fibre bread of the total weekly amount of bread decreased more in the control group than in the intervention group (difference 11.8%-units, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.6-23.1, P=0.04). The adjusted intake of vegetables, fruit and berries increased by 0.8 portions/day (95% CI 0.3-1.4, P=0.004) and dietary fibre by 3.6 g/day (95% CI 1.0-6.1, P=0.007) more in the intervention group than in the control group. There were no high birth weight babies (>or=4000 g) in the intervention group, but eight (15%) of them in the control group (P=0.006).
Conclusions: The counselling helped pregnant women to maintain the proportion of high-fibre bread and to increase vegetable, fruit and fibre intakes, but was unable to prevent excessive gestational weight gain.