Black, Hispanic and less-educated women consume a less nutritious diet than their well-educated, white counterparts in the weeks leading up to their first pregnancy, according to the only large-scale analysis of preconception adherence to national dietary guidelines.
[Photo: Dr. Lisa Bodnar]
The study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and led by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, also found that, while inequalities exist, none of the women in any racial and socioeconomic group evaluated achieved recommendations set forth by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Healthy maternal diets have been linked to reduced risks of preterm birth, fetal growth restriction, preeclampsia and maternal obesity.
“Unlike many other pregnancy and birth risk factors, diet is something we can improve,” said lead author Dr. Lisa Bodnar, associate professor and vice chair of research in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology. “While attention should be given to improving nutritional counseling at doctor appointments, overarching societal and policy changes that help women to make healthy dietary choices may be more effective and efficient.”
Bodnar and her colleagues analyzed the results of questionnaires completed by 7,511 women who were between six and 14 weeks pregnant and enrolled in The Nulliparous Pregnancy Outcomes Study: Monitoring Mothers to Be, which followed women who enrolled in the study at one of eight U.S. medical centers. The women reported on their dietary habits during the three months around conception.
The diets were assessed using the Healthy Eating Index-2010, which measures 12 key aspects of diet quality, including adequacy of intake for key food groups, as well as intake of refined grains, salt and empty calories (all calories from solid fats and sugars, plus calories from alcohol beyond a moderate level).
Nearly a quarter of the white women surveyed had scores that fell into the highest scoring fifth of those surveyed, compared with 14 percent of the Hispanic women and 4.6 percent of the black women. Almost half—44 percent—of black mothers had a score in the lowest scoring fifth.
To read more, visit http://www.upmc.com/media/NewsReleases/2017/Pages/bodnar-pregnancy-nutrition.aspx.