Laying the groundwork for prenatal dietary assessment research among First Nations women at risk for alcohol use: Implications for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
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Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a health concern that is over-represented among First Nations peoples. Optimal prenatal nutrition plays a role in the severity of FASD. Prenatal nutrition as it relates to fetal brain development and fetal alcohol exposure is an under-researched area, especially among pregnant First Nations women. Finding current dietary intake patterns of pregnant women who drink alcohol could lead to developing a nutrition provision strategy. However, there is no appropriate dietary assessment research tool that is specific to this population. This study aims to develop an effective, culturally appropriate and interactive dietary assessment research tool using participatory methods to engage with women and communities in the process. We used community health priorities forums, information sessions, volunteering, collaboration with programs, and a trauma-informed approach as methods to engage with pregnant women. To develop the research tool, top sources of fetal brain development nutrients were determined for the food frequency component, several prenatal health workers reviewed the tool, and a pre-test with 20 pregnant women of the target population was completed. Pre-test results show the tool is being well-received. All of this ground work will help pave a path for further prenatal nutrition research with First Nations women. This research will inform programs and policies which strive to improve food and nutrition security and reduce the severity of FASD.