Promoting Healthy Brain Development: Wellness for 2 Study

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Northwestern University


Active, not recruiting


Prenatal Stress


Behavioral: Just in Time Intervention (JITI) Content
Device: Biostamp nPoint Device
Behavioral: Mothers and Babies (MB) Course

Study type


Funder types



IRB 2019-2515

Details and patient eligibility


The "Promoting Healthy Brain Project" (PHBP) is part of the Lurie Children's Hospital Strategic Research Initiative on Perinatal Origins of Childhood Disease: Research & Prevention at the Maternal-Fetal Interface. The overall purpose of the PHBP is to test whether reducing maternal stress during pregnancy is associated with improved neurodevelopment in the first year of life. This will be tested via a randomized controlled trial (n = 100) of a technology and mindfulness enhanced prenatal stress-reduction intervention (Mothers and Babies; MB).

Full description

The "Promoting Healthy Brain Project" (PHBP) aims to improve infant neurodevelopmental trajectories by intervening on the fetal environment. The PHBP will experimentally test whether reducing prenatal maternal stress is associated with improved neurodevelopment in the first year of life. A randomized controlled trial (RCT) of a technology and mindfulness-enhanced prenatal maternal stress-reduction intervention (The Mothers and Babies Course; MB), compared to usual prenatal care. Prospective evaluation of infant neurodevelopmental outcomes will take place through infant age 24 months. Participants assigned to the intervention group will be offered the 12-session MB intervention, a well-studied intervention that will include new mindfulness practice enhancements designed to promote practice of awareness and attention to the present moment. MB visits will be delivered 1-on-1 by a trained facilitator in an open and nonjudgmental way, and will be offered in-person, over the phone, and/or by video chat. Throughout the intervention, all participants (intervention group and control group) will also wear a wireless, "smart" health sensing device (BioStamp Sensor - nPoint Device) that will measure heart rate and motion. Mothers' heart rate variability and self-reported stress and emotion will be monitored using the BioStamp Sensor and brief smartphone surveys. For mothers in the intervention group, patterns of prolonged stress will trigger a "just-in-time adapted intervention" (JITAI) that will be delivered to mothers' smartphones. The booster intervention will include activities that will enhance skills learned in the MB course. All participants will complete self-report measures of prenatal maternal stress, emotion, depression, and skills related to the intervention (e.g., mindfulness). Infant neurodevelopmental health will be measured via brain and behavioral indicators of self-regulation, including performance-based indicators of executive function and corollary prefrontal cortex maturation and dimensional phenotypes of disruptive behavior, particularly irritability.


100 patients




18 to 65 years old


Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • ≥ 18 years old;
  • enrolled under 22 weeks gestation;
  • receiving prenatal care from a Northwestern University prenatal care clinic & planning to deliver at Northwestern Hospitals;
  • English-speaking
  • Participants must own a smartphone and be must be willing to receive text messages and respond to short online surveys using their smartphone.
  • Eligible participants must also agree to wear a wireless adhesive sensor, the BioStamp, daily, throughout the 12-week MB course.
  • Eligible participants will also have WiFi internet access for the duration of their participation in the study, in order to complete online questionnaires and upload sensor data.
  • Eligible participants must also agree to have their child participate in the neurodevelopmental assessments from birth-12 months.

Exclusion criteria

  • Women will be ineligible to participate in this study if they have known pregnancy or chronic medical complications that may place their infant at risk for neurological disorders (e.g., HIV; acute cytomegalovirus infection (CMV); toxoplasmosis; zika virus; Phenylketonuria (PKU); chromosomal anomalies; metabolic disorder; substance use disorders) or significant mental health disorders (e.g., schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychosis) which could interfere with study adherence.
  • Participants unable to wear the BioStamp Sensor due to known skin sensitivity (e.g., allergy to adhesives or silicone), current skin irritation, or broken skin at the placement site will not be eligible to participate.
  • Participants with a pacemaker or other sensitive medical device will be excluded.
  • Women will not be eligible to participate if unable to provide informed consent, complete MB sessions, or complete study assessments in English.
  • Women who are currently participating in an MB course at the time of recruitment will not be eligible to participate.

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


Single Blind

100 participants in 2 patient groups

Intervention group
Experimental group
The first MB course session and technology training will take place in-person, prior to 23 weeks gestation. The Mothers and Babies course (MB) is a 12-session manualized stress-reduction intervention that will be delivered to participants, prenatally, with an integrated technology suite designed for timely detection and response to maternal stress. Sessions are delivered 1-on-1 with a trained facilitator and are based on principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and attachment theory. The MB course is divided into 3 sections: 1) Pleasant Activities; 2) Thoughts; 3) Contact with Others. Throughout each module, mindfulness skills training will be integrated as a strategy to help "center" participants. All participants will receive a Participant Manual for Families, containing worksheets that correspond to the 12 sessions.
Behavioral: Mothers and Babies (MB) Course
Device: Biostamp nPoint Device
Behavioral: Just in Time Intervention (JITI) Content
Stress monitoring (control) group
Active Comparator group
This group will not receive any additional intervention but will engage in stress monitoring via biosensors and EMA text messages through the 14 week period
Device: Biostamp nPoint Device

Trial contacts and locations



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