Center for Alaska Native Health Research
Institute of Arctic Biology
205 Arctic Health Research Building


Phone: 907-474-5528

1-888-470-5576 toll-free within Alaska 

Fax: 907-474-5700

Yup’ik Pregnancy Pilot Study

Project location: Rural communities in southwest Alaska

Category: Nutrition and Pregnancy

Picking Berries with GranddaughterThe goal of this study is to learn more about how the kinds of foods a mother eats before and during pregnancy affects the health of her baby at birth and later in life. We know that a mother's nutrition determines how the unborn baby develops and how healthy the infant is at birth. In our study, we are looking at how different foods (traditional Yup'ik foods rich in marine mammals and fish versus market foods) affect the health of the unborn child. We are also looking at how diet affects gene activity in the placenta, and how gene activity may influence the development of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke risk later in life. This study is in collaboration with the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation and with Dr. Kent Thornburg and colleagues at Oregon Health and Science University. We plan to enroll 15 pregnant Yup'ik women to investigate:

What is the role of maternal diet in determining maternal and neonatal blood lipid profiles?
To what degree does the maternal diet and/or maternal fat:muscle mass ratio predict the expression patterns of specific nutrient transporters?
To what degree do maternal plasma nutrients affect the epigenetic regulation of genes in the placenta?

The information gained from this study will be of benefit to Yup'ik people, as well as providing information regarding dietary determinants of gene expression during pregnancy. Results will provide insight about the impacts of diet choice during pregnancy on later offspring health.

CANHR Staff: Bert Boyer, Scarlett Hopkins, Jynene Black, and Kenlynn Henry

Oregon Health and Science University: Kent Thornburg, Amy Valent, and Kevin Kolahi

Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation: Kerry Cobbledick and Joni Beckham

Funded by: Internal funding by CANHR and Oregon Health and Science University

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