Nutrition Implications for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

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Prenatal alcohol exposure produces a multitude of detrimental alcohol-induced defects in children collectively known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Children with FASD often exhibit delayed or abnormal mental, neural, and physical growth. Socioeconomic status, race, genetics, parity, gravidity, age, smoking, and alcohol consumption patterns are all factors that may influence FASD.

Optimal maternal nutritional status is of utmost importance for proper fetal development, yet is often altered with alcohol consumption. It is critical to determine a means to resolve and reduce the physical and neurological

malformations that develop in the fetus as a result of prenatal alcohol exposure. Because there is a lack of information on the role of nutrients and prenatal nutrition interventions for FASD, the focus of this review is to provide an overview of nutrients (vitamin A, docosahexaenoic acid, folic acid, zinc, choline, vitamin E, and selenium) that may prevent or alleviate the development of FASD.

Results from various nutrient supplementation studies in animal models and FASD-related research conducted in humans provide insight into the plausibility of prenatal nutrition interventions for FASD. Further research is necessary to confirm positive results, to determine optimal amounts of nutrients needed in supplementation, and to investigate the collective effects of multiple-nutrient supplementation.

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  • 1 Supported by Manitoba, Innovation, Energy & Mines, and Canada Israel International Fetal Alcohol Consortium.

  • 2 Authors disclosures: J. K. Young, H. E. Giesbrecht, M. N. Eskin, M. Aliani, and M. Suh, no conflicts of interest.

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