The Fort McMurray Mommy Baby Study: A Protocol to Reduce Maternal Stress Due to the 2016 Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo, Alberta, Canada Wildfire.

TitleThe Fort McMurray Mommy Baby Study: A Protocol to Reduce Maternal Stress Due to the 2016 Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo, Alberta, Canada Wildfire.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsHyde A, Verstraeten BSE, Olson JK, King S, Brémault-Phillips S, Olson DM
JournalFront Public Health
Date Published2021
KeywordsAlberta, Animals, Buffaloes, Child, Preschool, Female, Humans, Infant, Newborn, Pregnancy, Prospective Studies, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Wildfires, Wood

Data show that maternal stress triggered by exposure to a natural disaster before, during or just after pregnancy is associated with adverse pregnancy and newborn outcomes. In this paper, the first aim is to describe our efforts to test a simple, low-cost intervention to large numbers of women following a major natural disaster. The second aim is to outline the challenges faced and lessons learned during the execution of this natural disaster study. The setting was the May 2016 Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo wildfire in northern Alberta, Canada. Women who were pregnant or preconception at the time of the disaster were invited to participate via social media. This prospective cohort study included a randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of an expressive writing intervention on the levels of prenatal maternal stress and maternal, birth, and early childhood outcomes. At recruitment and at multiple timepoints postpartum, a battery of questionnaires was administered to evaluate objective and subjective stress exposure to the fire as well as maternal mental health, resilience and its contributing factors as well as infant developmental milestones. Qualitative content analysis of the expressive writing was conducted. There is an increasing need to develop effective, wide-spread, rapid, and low-cost interventions to reduce prenatal maternal stress, increase resilience, and improve pregnancy outcomes following a natural disaster. Though analysis of data is ongoing, we highlight the strengths of this study which include strong community participation, rapid recruitment of eligible participants, low-cost intervention and data acquisition, and successful testing of the intervention. We acknowledge the challenges we encountered including the high rate of participant disqualifications or losses due to incomplete collection of online data; evacuation, dispersal, and inconsistent return to homes; and the high levels of stress accumulated post-disaster which led to inability to complete the study. Despite potential challenges, there remains a need for such research amid natural disasters.

Alternate JournalFront Public Health
PubMed ID34222163
PubMed Central IDPMC8249202
Grant List / / CIHR / Canada