Open Access Research article

Feasibility of a lifestyle intervention in early pregnancy to prevent deterioration of glucose tolerance

Eeva AL Korpi-Hyövälti1*, David E Laaksonen23, Ursula S Schwab24, Tarja H Vanhapiha5, Kristiina R Vihla6, Seppo T Heinonen7 and Leo K Niskanen2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Medicine, Seinäjoki Central Hospital, Seinäjoki, Finland

2 Department of Medicine, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland

3 Institute of Biomedicine, Physiology, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio Campus, Finland

4 Department of Clinical Nutrition, School of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio Campus, Finland

5 Kauhajoki Health Center Social Welfares, Kauhajoki, Finland

6 Lapua Health Center, Lapua, Finland

7 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Kuopio University Hospital, Finland

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:179  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-179

Published: 24 March 2011



In conjunction with the growing prevalence of obesity and the older age of pregnant women gestational diabetes (GDM) is a major health problem.

The aim of the study was to evaluate if a lifestyle intervention since early pregnancy is feasible in improving the glucose tolerance of women at a high-risk for GDM in Finland.


A 75-g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) was performed in early pregnancy (n = 102). Women at high risk for GDM (n = 54) were randomized at weeks 8-12 from Apr 2005 to May 2006 to a lifestyle intervention group (n = 27) or to a close follow-up group (n = 27). An OGTT was performed again at weeks 26-28 for the lifestyle intervention and close follow-up groups.


The values of the OGTT during the second trimester did not differ between the lifestyle intervention and close follow-up groups. In the lifestyle intervention group three women had GDM in the second trimester and respectively one woman in the close follow up group. Insulin therapy was not required in both groups. The intervention resulted in somewhat lower weight gain 11.4 ± 6.0 kg vs. 13.9 ± 5.1 kg, p = 0.062, adjusted by the prepregnancy weight.


Early intervention with an OGTT and simple lifestyle advice is feasible. A more intensive lifestyle intervention did not offer additional benefits with respect to glucose tolerance, although it tended to ameliorate the weight gain.

Trial Registration NCT01130012

gestational diabetes mellitus; lifestyle intervention; oral glucose tolerance test; insulin treatment