Protect Africa and Reach Us study in Soweto

Educational levels in young African women remain at historical lows. This provides a particular challenge when attempting to optimise the health of mothers and babies through educational strategies. It is estimated that one in two pregnant women in urban communities like Soweto are either overweight or obese. In response, our group has pilot data showing the utility of an innovative information technology-based program to provide readily accessible and understandable health education to this vulnerable population (HEDUAfrica).

Project title
Pregnancy-related Obesity Prevention through Education & Communication Technology in Africa: The PROTECT-AFRICA STUDY

Research question
The primary endpoint will be the proportion of participants who gain more than 12kg from 16 weeks to delivery. Key secondary endpoints are change in BMI index, change in systolic and diastolic BP, number of caesarean births, treatment for infection post-delivery and the occurrence of obstetric haemorrhages. A number of sub-studies examining the change in health preference of pregnant women, change in micronutrient levels and body fat composition, the effect of health coaching via SMS technology,  the SMS content will be based on the content  from the video’s on the HeduAfrica site, and flow murmur screening via a novel electronic stethoscope programme will also be performed.

Given poor maternal health and outcomes, the potential importance of effective education but with the background of low educational levels we will prospectively examine the impact of an educational, IT-based intervention package on excess weight gain in slightly overweight pregnant women.

Professor Karen Sliwa and Professor Kerstin Klipstein Grobusch