FWO-SB project Anouk Smits

Development of strategic preconception care to improve maternal fertility and protect offspring’s health in obese individuals: steps towards evidence based clinical advice.

Obesity is becoming a global threat, reducing mother’s health and reproductive capacities and affecting the offspring’s health. Clear preconception care guidelines for obese future mothers are completely lacking. Clinical studies are flawed and more fundamental studies in basic animal models are very scarce. The importance of preconception weight loss on reproduction and baby’s health is heavily debated and never been investigated in detail. This research project aims to propose strategically designed animal research models to provide relevant scientific evidence for effective and sustainable preconception care advices to obese women planning for pregnancy. To do so, we will assess the impact of preconception weight loss, diet normalization, increased physical activity, omega-3 rich diet or the combination thereof in obese outbred mother mice on four distinct major outcome parameters: 1) improvement of mother’s metabolic profile before conception in relation to the observed weight loss; 2) mother’s own fertility success; 3) postnatal health of the offspring and 4) offspring’s reproductive physiology. Effective guidelines for preconception care lifestyle interventions in obese patients will drastically lower the (public) health care cost associated with assisted reproduction and should maximally safeguard the health of the baby. The data generated will be the basis for awareness and education programs aiming at improved maternal health at the time of conception.