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Project Viva is a ground breaking longitudinal research study of women and children that began in 1999. The initial goal of Project Viva was to find ways to improve the health of mothers and their children by looking at the effects of mother's diet as well as other factors during pregnancy and after birth. Over the past two decades, Project Viva has expanded its focus to include a wider range of experiences that influence health extending into midlife for the mothers, and young adulthood for their children. Health exposures of interest now include not only diet but also physical activity, sleep, environmental chemicals, air pollution, stressors, mental health, and others. The information we collect enables us to investigate, for example, the effects of a mother's diet during pregnancy on her child’s metabolic health, and how air pollution around the family’s home influences the development of asthma.  

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Project Viva was started by Principal Investigator Matthew W. Gillman, MD, SM and his colleagues who were intrigued by the notion, then just emerging, that what happens very early in life - even before birth - can have effects on health into adulthood. In 1998, Dr. Gillman implemented a successful pilot study about diet in pregnancy. With the financial support from the NIH, Project Viva began enrolling pregnant women in April of 1999.

A total of 2128 babies born between 1999 and 2003 were enrolled into Project Viva.  Today, more than two decades later, over 1000 women and their young adult offspring continue to be actively engaged in Project Viva research! Project Viva mothers completed in-person examinations during pregnancy, and were seen together with their children at study visits throughout childhood and into the teen years. Project Viva now invites mothers and their children to continue their participation as individuals, as we shift our focus toward separate studies of Young Adult health and Women’s health.

Project Viva is currently led by Co-Principal Investigators Emily Oken, MD, MPH and Marie-France Hivert, MD, MMSc. The study is funded primarily by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Disease (NICHD). The study is based in the Department of Population Medicine, which is jointly sponsored by Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute.

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