Dietary Predictors of Complications in Pregnancy

Callan, Ashleigh
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University of Guelph

Adequate pre-pregnancy dietary intake is essential to support the optimal growth and development of the baby, and to support the physiological changes occurring in the mother’s body, especially during the first 8 weeks of gestation. Nutrient deficiencies or excesses may compromise fetal growth and development, increasing the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes such as hypertensive disorders, gestational diabetes, and pre-term birth. While studies have suggested links between pre-pregnancy nutrient intake and complications, those nutrients and dietary patterns with the greatest impact on the risk of complications have not been conclusively identified. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine if the pre-pregnancy intake of certain nutrients or diet quality differed between women who developed complications and women who did not. This study is an analysis of data collected as part of the Sweet Moms study. In total, 169 pregnant women (mean age 30 years; 78% Caucasian) were recruited from Edmonton, Alberta and the surrounding communities. Information about pre-pregnancy dietary intake was collected using a 154-item food frequency questionnaire. Nutrient intake from food and supplement was determined, and a Healthy Eating Index score was calculated. Information about pregnancy complications was collected from medical records. Independent sample t-tests and non-parametric tests were used to assess the differences in dietary intake between women who did and women who did not have each of the complications of interest (hypertensive disorders, gestational diabetes, pre-term birth, and intrauterine growth restriction) as appropriate. The effects of nutrient intake and diet quality on birth and labour characteristic outcomes (indications of the function of the uterus) were also investigated. While this study did find some connections between pre-pregnancy nutrient intake and either complications encountered in pregnancy or birth and labour characteristics, some findings support the results from previous literature, and some findings do not support the previous literature. This is the first study to use Canadian data to examine the link between nutrient intake and pregnancy complications. Larger studies are required to further investigate these findings.

Pregnancy, Nutrients, Preeclampsia, Gestational Hypertension, Gestational Diabetes, Pre-term Birth, Intrauterine Growth Restriction, Diet, Complications, Birth & Labour Characteristics