Objectives Beginning life in a healthy uterine environment is essential for future well-being, particularly as it relates to chronic disease risk. Baseline (early pregnancy) demographic, anthropometric (height and weight), psychosocial (depression and perceived stress), and behavioral (diet and exercise) characteristics of rural, Southern, pregnant women enrolled in a maternal, infant, and early childhood home visiting program are described. Methods Participants included 82 women early in their second trimester of pregnancy and residing in three Lower Mississippi Delta counties in the United States. Baseline data were collected through direct measurement and surveys. Results Participants were primarily African American (96 %), young (mean age = 23 years), single (93 %), and received Medicaid (92 %). Mean gestational age was 18 weeks, 67 % of participants were overweight or obese before becoming pregnant, and 16 % tested positive for major depression. Participants were sedentary (mean minutes of moderate intensity physical activity/week = 30), had low diet quality (mean Healthy Eating Index-2010 total score = 43 points), with only 38, 4, and 7 % meeting recommendations for saturated fat, fiber, and sodium intakes, respectively. Conclusions for Practice In the Lower Mississippi Delta, there is a need for interventions that are designed to help women achieve optimal GWG by improving their diet quality and increasing the amount of physical activity performed during pregnancy. Researchers also should consider addressing barriers to changing health behaviors during pregnancy that may be unique to this region of the United States.
Early pregnancy Diet quality Physical activity Gestational weight gain African American
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We thank Debra Johnson, Shakari Moore, and Donna Ransome for their research support, and all the participants for giving their time generously to this project. This research is supported by the United States (US) Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service Project 6001-53000-001-00D, and in kind support from the Delta Health Alliance. The views expressed are solely those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the US government.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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