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Recent Canadian efforts to develop population-level pregnancy intervention studies to mitigate effects of natural disasters and other tragedies

  • D. M. Olson (a1), S. Brémault-Phillips (a2), S. King (a3), G. A.S. Metz (a4), S. Montesanti (a5), J. K. Olson (a6), A. Hyde (a6), A. Pike (a2), T. Hoover (a4), R. Linder (a7), B. Joggerst (a8) and R. Watts (a9)...

Abstract

The preconception, pregnancy and immediate postpartum and newborn periods are times for mothers and their offspring when they are especially vulnerable to major stressors – those that are sudden and unexpected and those that are chronic. Their adverse effects can transcend generations. Stressors can include natural disasters or political stressors such as conflict and/or migration. Considerable evidence has accumulated demonstrating the adverse effects of natural disasters on pregnancy outcomes and developmental trajectories. However, beyond tracking outcomes, the time has arrived for gathering more information related to identifying mechanisms, predicting risk and developing stress-reducing and resilience-building interventions to improve outcomes. Further, we need to learn how to encapsulate both the quantitative and qualitative information available and share it with communities and authorities to mitigate the adverse developmental effects of future disasters, conflicts and migrations. This article briefly reviews prenatal maternal stress and identifies three contemporary situations (wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada; hurricane Harvey in Houston, USA and transgenerational and migrant stress in Pforzheim, Germany) where current studies are being established by Canadian investigators to test an intervention. The experiences from these efforts are related along with attempts to involve communities in the studies and share the new knowledge to plan for future disasters or tragedies.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: D. M. Olson, PhD, FRCOG, FCAHS, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 220 HMRC, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G2S2. E-mail: dmolson@ualberta.ca

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