Erasmus MC Press Release Rotterdam, 13 May 2014
Couples sought for study on ‘Slimmer Zwanger’ app
Healthy pregnancies start before conception with both men and women adopting a sensible lifestyle
The department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of Erasmus MC and the Rijnmond Center for Youth and Family will launch a unique study among 1000 Rotterdam couples desiring children on Wednesday 14 May. These are women and their partners wishing to become pregnant within 6 months and who have therefore preferably already stopped taking contraceptives. The aim of the study is to determine whether the unique Slimmer Zwanger (Smarter Pregnancy) online coaching program on smartphones – or a combination of a computer/tablet and a mobile phone – really works as well as it appears to do now.
Participants can take part in the tailored online coaching program focusing on diet and lifestyle habits free of charge. Women answer questions on their diet and lifestyle habits, preferably together with their partner, on www.slimmerzwanger.nl/onderzoek. Do you drink alcohol? Do you smoke? How much fruit and vegetables do you eat? Does the woman take folic acid supplements?  Depending on the answers, a tailored lifestyle advice is generated, which can then be observed using the coaching program. Text messages and emails with tips, facts and recipes are sent to the participants to encourage them to change unhealthy habits and to maintain healthy habits.  

A healthy diet, not drinking or smoking, enough exercise and a healthy weight have been demonstrated to make becoming pregnant easier, but also contribute to good growth and health of the fetus once a pregnancy is achieved. Research has, for example, shown that couples undergoing IVF treatment are 60% more likely to become pregnant if they follow healthy dietary and lifestyle advice. Furthermore, the baby is less likely to be born with birth defects, prematurely, with low birth weight, with growth disorders and with possible disorders later in life.

According to the researchers involved, Prof. Régine Steegers-Theunissen and research physician Matthijs van Dijk, it is also very important that the prospective father has a healthy lifestyle.  Unhealthy dietary and lifestyle habits such as too little fruit and vegetables, smoking and drinking negatively impact sperm cells and reduce the chances of pregnancy. 
  
A monthly lottery gives participants of the study about to be launched a chance to win all sorts of nice gifts, including a cookbook and a weekend break. If they become pregnant during the study, they can subsequently participate in the Rotterdam Periconception Cohort Study. Erasmus MC will then provide them with a free 3D ultrasound, including a print out. Prospective mothers, but also prospective fathers, can apply via www.slimmerzwanger.nl/onderzoek. You can also send an email to: slimmerzwanger@erasmusmc.nl . Registration will be on a first come, first served basis!
Erasmus MC is the largest University Medical Center in the Netherlands. Our primary goal is a healthy population. Nearly 13,000 employees devote themselves every day to providing outstanding care, facilitating world-class education and conducting pioneering research. These professionals are instrumental in developing expertise on health and illness. They link the latest scientific insights to practical treatments and prevention measures to provide maximum benefit to patients and to enable healthy people to stay healthy longer. Being visibly better and leading the way in the areas of complex, innovative and acute care by collaborating with others: these are key ambitions at Erasmus MC.