Intake of micronutrient-rich foods in rural Indian mothers is associated with the size of their babies at birth: Pune Maternal Nutrition Study

Rao, Shobha, Yajnik, Chittaranjan S., Kanade, Asawari, Fall, Caroline H., Margetts, Barrie M., Jackson, Alan A., Shier, Rosaleen, Joshi, Sadhana, Rege, Sonali, Lubree, Himangi and Desai, Bhavna (2001) Intake of micronutrient-rich foods in rural Indian mothers is associated with the size of their babies at birth: Pune Maternal Nutrition Study. Journal of Nutrition, 131, (4), 1217-1224.


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One third of the Indian babies are of low birth weight (<2.5 kg), and this is attributed to maternal undernutrition. We therefore examined the relationship between maternal nutrition and birth size in a prospective study of 797 rural Indian women, focusing on macronutrient intakes, dietary quality and micronutrient status. Maternal intakes (24-h recall and food frequency questionnaire) and erythrocyte folate, serum ferritin and vitamin C concentrations were measured at 18 ± 2 and 28 ± 2 wk gestation.

Mothers were short (151.9 ± 5.1 cm) and underweight (41.7 ± 5.1 kg) and had low energy and protein intakes at 18 wk (7.4 ± 2.1 MJ and 45.4 ± 14.1 g) and 28 wk (7.0 ± 2.0 MJ and 43.5 ± 13.5 g) of gestation. Mean birth weight and length of term babies were also low (2665 ± 358 g and 47.8 ± 2.0 cm, respectively). Energy and protein intakes were not associated with birth size, but higher fat intake at wk 18 was associated with neonatal length (P < 0.001), birth weight (P < 0.05) and triceps skinfold thickness (P < 0.05) when adjusted for sex, parity and gestation. However, birth size was strongly associated with the consumption of milk at wk 18 (P < 0.05) and of green leafy vegetables (P < 0.001) and fruits (P < 0.01) at wk 28 of gestation even after adjustment for potentially confounding variables.

Erythrocyte folate at 28 wk gestation was positively associated with birth weight (P < 0.001). The lack of association between size at birth and maternal energy and protein intake but strong associations with folate status and with intakes of foods rich in micronutrients suggest that micronutrients may be important limiting factors for fetal growth in this undernourished community.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Community and International Nutrition
ISSNs: 0022-3166 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: india, maternal intake, food frequency questionnaire, green leafy vegetables, birth size
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Medicine > Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
ePrint ID: 25925
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2006
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 11:48

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