Background: Pregnancy is a period in the life of women that is often associated with decreased daily physical activity and/or exercise. However, maintaining adequate levels of daily physical activity during pregnancy is important for mother and child. Studies suggest that moderate daily physical activity and exercise during pregnancy are associated with reductions in the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). However, at present, physical activity is not routinely advised to pregnant women at risk for gestational diabetes in the Netherlands. In FitFor2-study we aim to assess whether an exercise program can improve insulin sensitivity and fasting plasma glucose levels of women at high risk for gestational diabetes, assuming that this will lower their risk of gestational diabetes.
Methods: The FitFor2-study is a randomised controlled trial. Women who visit one of the participating hospitals or midwifery practices and who are at risk for gestational diabetes are eligible to participate. After baseline measurement they are randomly allocated to in the intervention or control group. The intervention group receives an exercise program twice a week in addition to usual care. The exercise program consist of aerobic and strength exercises and takes place under close supervision of a physiotherapist. Data are collected at 15, 24 and 32 weeks of pregnancy and 12 weeks after delivery. Primary maternal outcome measures are fasting plasma glucose and relative increase in insulin resistance. Primary neonatal outcome is birth weight. Secondary outcome measures are: maternal serum triglycerides, HDL, cholesterol, HbA1c, maternal weight gain during pregnancy, maternal physical activity level, foetal growth.
Discussion: If the FitFor2 intervention program proves to be effective, obstetricians and midwives should refer women at risk for GDM to a special exercise program. Exercise programs for pregnant women under supervision of an experienced trainer are already available in the Netherlands, and these programs could be adjusted easily for this target group. Furthermore, the costs of these programs should be refunded by including them in the basic health care cost reimbursement schemes.
Trial registration: NTR1139.