Study Design, Protocol and Profile of the Maternal And Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES) Pregnancy Cohort: a Prospective Cohort Study in Predominantly Low-Income Hispanic Women in Urban Los Angeles

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2019 May 30;19(1):189. doi: 10.1186/s12884-019-2330-7.


Background: The burden of childhood and adult obesity disproportionally affects Hispanic and African-American populations in the US, and these groups as well as populations with lower income and education levels are disproportionately affected by environmental pollution. Pregnancy is a critical developmental period where maternal exposures may have significant impacts on infant and childhood growth as well as the future health of the mother. We initiated the "Maternal And Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES)" cohort study to address critical gaps in understanding the increased risk for childhood obesity and maternal obesity outcomes among minority and low-income women in urban Los Angeles.

Methods: The MADRES cohort is specifically examining whether pre- and postpartum environmental exposures, in addition to exposures to psychosocial and built environment stressors, lead to excessive gestational weight gain and postpartum weight retention in women and to perturbed infant growth trajectories and increased childhood obesity risk through altered psychological, behavioral and/or metabolic responses. The ongoing MADRES study is a prospective pregnancy cohort of 1000 predominantly lower-income, Hispanic women in Los Angeles, CA. Enrollment in the MADRES cohort is initiated prior to 30 weeks gestation from partner community health clinics in Los Angeles. Cohort participants are followed through their pregnancies, at birth, and during the infant's first year of life through a series of in-person visits with interviewer-administered questionnaires, anthropometric measurements and biospecimen collection as well as telephone interviews conducted with the mother.

Discussion: In this paper, we outline the study rationale and data collection protocol for the MADRES cohort, and we present a profile of demographic, health and exposure characteristics for 291 participants who have delivered their infants, out of 523 participants enrolled in the study from November 2015 to October 2018 from four community health clinics in Los Angeles. Results from the MADRES cohort could provide a powerful rationale for regulation of targeted chemical environmental components, better transportation and urban design policies, and clinical recommendations for stress-coping strategies and behavior to reduce lifelong obesity risk.

Keywords: Birth outcomes; Childhood obesity; Environment; Health disparities; MADRES; Maternal health; Obesity; Stress.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Gestational Weight Gain
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Los Angeles
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Pediatric Obesity / ethnology
  • Pediatric Obesity / etiology*
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / ethnology
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / etiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Research Design
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data