Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationDuke U.
Grant numberGr. 10627
Approve DateSeptember 29, 2023
Project TitleSadhir, Srishti (Duke U.) "Maternal Energetic Strategies During Pregnancy"
Pregnancy is energetically expensive. It takes humans more than 77,000 kilocalories to sustain a pregnancy for approximately 9 months. Pregnancy may push mothers to the limits of human energy expenditure, particularly when coupled with high levels of physical activity. Nearly all studies of pregnancy have focused on sedentary populations; few have examined energy requirements during pregnancy for highly active mothers. This project addresses this important gap. Undertaking high levels of physical activity during pregnancy may force mothers to approach their metabolic limits earlier in pregnancy, thereby reducing energy investment in the fetus or in other maternal tasks, such as fat storage. Alternatively, physical activity behavior may be flexible such that mothers respond to the dual demands of reproduction and physical activity by reducing activity as pregnancy progresses. Examining the ways in which humans manage the energy costs of pregnancy will advance our understanding of human life history evolution and the burdens facing mothers in physically active populations today, and will help inform strategies to promote reproductive health and reduce health disparities.