Nutrient intake and lifestyle patterns of pregnant Indigenous women residing in northern Manitoban communities: a pilot study for implications for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

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Kloss, Olena
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Planning maternal health programs requires a comprehensive understanding of maternal behaviors that are associated with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), as alcohol consumption is not the sole contributor. Compromised maternal nutrition is identified as one of the major factors contributing to FASD due to alcohol's ability to displace nutrients and interfere with metabolism. However, the information on the nutrition status of women at-risk of having children with FASD, is scarce, especially in Indigenous women. This study aimed to identify the dietary intake of nutrients important for fetal central nervous system development and examine if alcohol consumption influenced dietary intake in pregnant women. Through community engagement and partnerships with two northern Manitoba First Nation communities (Opaskwayak Cree Nation and Chemawawin Cree Nation), 59 pregnant women, ages 14-42 years, were recruited to participate in the in-person survey using the Nutrition for Two instrument. Information was obtained on participant demographics, dietary intake, substance use, pregnancy outcomes, and maternal health. Additionally, biological samples, urine, and plasma were collected for measuring metabolic parameters, fatty acids, cytokines, and mineral profiles. The preliminary findings of this study demonstrated that all participants were below the serving size in all food groups recommended by the former Health Canada CFG. A higher prevalence of inadequacy was observed for three key nutrients: folate, iron, and DHA for both communities. Maternal self-reported alcohol consumption was associated with increased intake of fat macronutrients (p<0.05) and decreased intakes of niacin, folate, choline, and calcium (p<0.05). No relationship existed between dietary intake and other risk factors. With respect to biological data, alcohol consumption during pregnancy presented a significant positive relationship with plasma glucose (p<0.05) and a negative relationship with anti-inflammatory cytokine, erythrocyte C18:2n6 and C20:4n6 (p<0.05). This pilot study contributes to the field of maternal health and nutrition by identifying the influence of alcohol consumption on the intakes of macro- and micro-nutrients in pregnant First Nations women residing in remote communities in Manitoba. The results of the present study could be utilized for maternal grass roots programming and future planning of community nutrition research.
Maternal nutrition, First Nations, FASD, Risk factors, Lifestyle factors