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Date of Award


Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Document type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Public Health; Biostatistics and Epidemiology

First Advisor

Lisa Chasan-Taber

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson

Third Advisor

Penelope S. Pekow

Subject Categories

Epidemiology | Medicine and Health Sciences


Physical activity guidelines encouraging activity among healthy pregnant women have been issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, yet Latina women remain more sedentary than non-Latina white women. Latina women are also at higher risk for gestational diabetes mellitus and, among Latina women, Puerto Rican women have the highest rates of low birth weight and preterm-related infant death. This dissertation utilized data from the Latina GDM study, a prospective cohort study of 1,231 Latina women recruited early in pregnancy and followed through delivery. Participants were interviewed in early and mid pregnancy for assessment of sociodemographics, acculturation, medical, and behavioral factors, in addition to administration of the Kaiser Physical Activity Survey for assessment of physical activity and sedentary behaviors. Birth outcomes were abstracted from medical records following delivery.

In the first chapter, we assessed the prevalence of three health behaviors (meeting physical activity guidelines, meeting fruit/vegetable consumption guidelines, and cigarette smoking) in early and mid pregnancy and identified multiple factors associated with meeting health behavior guidelines in pregnancy. In the second chapter, we examined participation in sedentary behaviors, such as time spent TV watching, sitting at work, and low levels of sports and exercise, in pre, early and mid pregnancy in relation to maternal glucose intolerance and gestational diabetes mellitus. In the final chapter, we analyzed four types of physical activity (sports/exercise, household/caregiving, occupational, and active transportation) as well as total activity in relation to risk of preterm birth and small-for-gestational age.

Findings represent the first study of physical activity and maternal/fetal outcomes conducted exclusively among Latina women, a group largely understudied in epidemiologic research. Results will guide culturally specific intervention programs in this high risk population.


Included in

Epidemiology Commons