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Diet, Low-birthweight, Nutritional requirements, Pregnancy



  1. Fowles, Eileen R. PhD, RNC


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to describe differences between low-and middle-income pregnant women's general nutritional knowledge, usual dietary intake and weight gain.


Study Design and Methods: A descriptive design employing a questionnaire with a convenience sample of women (N = 109) from both childbirth education classes and a free prenatal clinic.


Results: Women with a low prepregnant body mass index (BMI) gained less weight, and women with high BMI tended to gain more weight than recommended. Most women had inadequate general nutritional knowledge, and their dietary intake did not meet all the nutritional requirements of pregnancy. Women attending the free prenatal clinic had more accurate knowledge of the recommended number of servings for some food groups (fruits and vegetables, meats and dairy) than women in childbirth education classes. No differences were noted between the groups in total weight gain.


Clinical Implications: Further research is needed to evaluate pregnant women's nutritional knowledge and actual dietary practices, to develop effective strategies designed to promote adequate nutritional intake in pregnant women, and to help women remain within the Institute of Medicine (IOM) weight gain recommendations. Consistent individualized nutritional assessment and counseling during pregnancy could provide a foundation for continued healthy eating habits during the postpartum period and possibly throughout the woman's life.