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Clinical Trials: Who's On First?
In the course of preparing for last Thursday's show about obesity and pregnancy, we came upon an interesting nugget. Kaiser Permanente says their new clinical trial to help obese women control their weight during pregnancy is the first of its kind. But it turns out it isn't.
The current study was undertaken to test whether these guidelines make a difference in maternal-fetal outcomes among obese women. In the study, conducted at several hospitals, the researchers followed 232 obese pregnant women, all of whom had a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. Half of the women followed conventional prenatal nutritional guidelines, which is essentially "eat to appetite" (control group). The other half were placed on a well-balanced, nutritionally monitored program, which included a daily food diary (study group). The average weight gain in the control group was 31 pounds, compared to 11 pounds in the study group. Twenty-three extremely obese patients lost weight during their pregnancy.
I talked to both Vic Stevens, the principal investigator of the new Kaiser Study, and Yvonne Thornton, the perinatologist behind the earlier study, to learn a little more about what happened.
To be perfectly honest, I completely misjudged what I would hear from both of them. I thought Yvonne Thornton would say, in effect, "Hey, we did that before!" And I thought that Vic Stevens, the Kaiser Permanente study's principal investigator, might feel that he'd been beaten to the punch.
I heard the exact opposite. Dr. Stevens was excited that an earlier study seemed to validate their new model — and eager to compare notes with someone who has been through this before. Dr. Thornton was thrilled that what for her is now an 11-year-old clinical and research passion is finally gaining public health steam.
I talked to Dr. Thorton about her study — and her personal stake in it — on Friday afternoon. Here's an mp3 of the interview.