OHSU (Western Partner) Trainee Spotlight: Natalie Damen

Natalie Damen is an MCH trainee from Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon. She is a second-year graduate student in the combined Masters of Science in Human Nutrition and Dietetic Internship program. Natalie received her undergraduate degree in Nutrition from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.  In this blog post, she features her thesis research.

 

Eating For Two: Dietary Intake During Pregnancy and Infant Body Composition

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The question of should pregnant women really be “eating for two” has been in the media, textbooks, and even passed down through families and generations for years. The developmental origins of health and disease hypothesis have helped shape what we now know about the prenatal environment and risk of chronic disease later in life. Recent evidence has also specifically linked infant body composition at birth to an increased risk of adult chronic disease. The goal of my research is to investigate the association between maternal dietary fat intake during pregnancy and infant body composition at birth.

My research includes 79 healthy pregnant women with a singleton gestation who were enrolled at 12 to 16 weeks gestation. The 2005 Block Food Frequency questionnaire was used to assess dietary intake at 12-16 weeks, 24-28 weeks, and 37 weeks gestation. Infant anthropometry and flank skinfold measurements were taken within 24 hours of birth, and then the Catalano equation was used to calculate infant fat mass.

After analyzing preliminary results, I submitted an abstract to present at the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) Nutrition 2018 conference. My abstract was just recently accepted for a poster presentation, and I will be traveling to Boston, MA this June to share my research with other nutrition scientists. I am excited for this opportunity to network with other nutrition professionals and learn more about cutting-edge nutrition research.

Specific dietary recommendations for pregnant women for quantity and quality of dietary fat intake are lacking. I am hopeful that my results expand our current knowledge of maternal dietary intake and infant body composition, and will help inform the optimal maternal diet for beneficial birth outcomes. I am looking forward to seeing how the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans develop over the next few years to possibly see pregnant women included for the first time in the 2020-2025 guidelines.

-Natalie Damen, MCH Nutrition Trainee, Oregon Health and Science University

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