“A poor or inadequate diet before or during pregnancy can have serious consequences for the mother and for the baby”
Interview with Dra. Rodriguez-Bernal, author of the study “Dietary intake in pregnant women in a Spanish Mediterranean area: as good as it is supposed to be?”
What motivated you to do this study?
It has been established that inadequate or deficient diet during pregnancy can have negative consequences for the health of the child or the mother. The Mediterranean diet is considered a healthy dietary pattern and always we assume that people living in Mediterranean areas have adequate food, however, dietary adequacy in pregnant women in these areas has been studied very little and we thought, because people are increasingly moving away from traditional dietary pattern and pregnancy is an increase in demand nutritional, dietary assessment was important in this context and at this stage of life.
What are the main findings of the study?
Pregnant women have a diet that does not cover the nutritional needs of pregnancy, because they not eat enough foods that provide important nutrients during pregnancy, or because they exceed the intake of others that are high in calories but not nutrients. In addition, supplementation is not receiving adequate and in some cases is necessary to evaluate this aspect so that mothers and babies are not exposed to risks involving deficiencies or excesses in consumption of certain nutrients, especially in the form of supplements .
What nutrients should care a pregnant woman?
A balanced diet rich in various nutrients is very important during pregnancy, however, there are some that are considered key for its effect on fetal development and the increased demand during pregnancy, such as folate (found in vegetables, especially greens, fruits, cereals, legumes), Fe (found in meat, vegetables) and calcium (found in milk and vegetables). Lately also starts talking about important effects of vitamin D (major sources are dairy and fish), but is a less studied nutrient.
What are the major gaps in supply which has revealed the studio?
In this study, a large percentage of women consumed less than the recommended amounts of grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, which was reflected in a low intake of important nutrients like complex carbohydrates, folate and Fe. We also found an intake of vitamin D deficient, however, Vitamin D is synthesized in large part through the skin on exposure to sunlight, whereby it is expected that vitamin D deficiency is not high in Women in this area. Additionally, it was found that a large percentage of women exceeded the recommendations for total fat intake, and had high intakes of saturated fat. It should be noted that consumption of protein, calcium and vitamin A was generally adequate for this population.
“In this study, a large percentage of women consumed less than the recommended amounts of grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, which was reflected in a low intake of important nutrients like complex carbohydrates, Fe and folate”
What consequences can have a poor diet for a pregnant woman?
A poor diet or inadequate before or during pregnancy has been linked to gestational diabetes to develop life, anemia, increased risk of postpartum depression, among others.
What about the baby?
In a recently published study, we found that a low-quality diet during pregnancy increases the risk of fetal growth restriction and it is known that this in turn increases the risk of perinatal mortality or disease develop short and long term. There is increasing evidence that a proper diet during pregnancy prevents the risk of premature birth, or the presence of diseases like asthma in childhood.
What are the significant differences that exist between the different profiles of women? What is the prototype pregnant woman who “neglect” over their food?
We studied differences by age, educational level and place of origin. We found that younger women consumed fewer vegetables, less omega 3 fatty acids, trans fat and more generally had a poorer intake of all micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) studied compared with older age. The less educated women consumed more red meat, trans fats, omega 3 fatty acids less and less vitamin A and iron. Spanish women consumed less fruit, had a poorer consumption of excess carbohydrates and more in the consumption of total fat and saturated fat than foreign. Moreover, the Latin American consumed less omega 3 and Eastern European women more trans fats. We could say that women who have a less adequate food as recommended for pregnant women are younger, less educated and Spanish.
“Pregnant women have a diet that can not meet the nutritional needs of pregnancy, because they not eat enough foods that provide important nutrients during pregnancy, or because they exceed the intake of others that are high in calories but not nutrients.”
How could we improve this nourishment?
The most important thing is to have a balanced and varied diet, and fitting, for example, economic and cultural characteristics of each woman or population. The food could be improved by increasing the consumption of cereals (wheat and foods made with it as bread, pasta and cous-cous, rice, oats, corn, barley, etc.) and tubers (potato, cassava, sweet potato or yam etc.) as sources primary energy. Also increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables that provide fiber, vitamins and minerals and legumes that are important sources of protein, carbohydrate and other nutrients and have a low fat content. Red meat and poultry can be replaced sometimes by legumes. It is also advisable to reduce the consumption of processed meats and sausages and industrial products such as pastries that contain unhealthy fats. It is important to eat different types of fish because of its high nutritional value (also contains protein and minerals, fats that benefit health), avoiding or limiting consumption of swordfish and bluefin tuna or swordfish because of their high mercury content. Dairy products are important sources of nutrients like calcium, but in this population the consumption of milk and calcium during pregnancy are adequate and therefore do not need to make any recommendations about diet, additionally, we believe it would be unnecessary to take calcium supplements.