Effects of Maternal Stress, Dietary Intake, and Physical Activity Behaviors on Adverse Birth Outcomes

A 2019-2020 Seed Grant Award
Co-Investigator: Tiago Barreira
Principal Investigator: Jessica L. Garay
Co-Investigator: Sandra D. Lane
Co-Investigator: Margaret A. Voss

CUSE Grant – Innovative & Interdisciplinary Research, $20,000.

Maternal exposure to acute or chronic stress during fetal development leads to adjustments that have both short- and long-term consequences. Our proposed study is a multi-disciplinary investigation of maternal stress exposure, maternal stress response, and adverse birth outcomes (including pre-term birth and low birth weight). We plan to conduct a prospective cohort study of pregnant women to assess whether dietary intake and/or physical activity (PA) mediate or moderate the relationship between maternal stress exposure and adverse birth outcomes. Additional study aims include determining the relationship (if any) between psychosocial stress and a) dietary intake or b) PA during each trimester of pregnancy and evaluating the impact of participation in PA or accumulation of sedentary behavior during pregnancy on adverse birth outcomes.

Women (target N = 100) who receive services at the SUNY Upstate Medical University Women’s Health Services Clinic will be recruited during the first trimester of pregnancy. Once per trimester, participants will complete questionnaires assessing stress levels, provide a saliva sample to measure stress bio-markers, complete 3 dietary recalls, and wear an accelerometer device to measure physical activity. Birth outcomes and maternal health information will be obtained via chart review. Multivariable linear regression, logistic regression, and structural equation modeling will be used to evaluate the relationship between maternal stress, dietary intake, physical activity, and sedentary behavior on adverse birth outcomes. Results from this observational study will be used to justify future interventions aimed at reducing maternal stress and improving birth outcomes.