Purpose: To develop a profile of common nutritional patterns among pregnant African American women that will assist healthcare providers in identifying areas for improvement and change.
Study Design: This study was part of a larger NIH-funded (R03NR008548-01) study that examined risk factors associated with preterm labor and birth in high- and low-risk African American women. Data were collected on high-risk mothers (women experiencing preterm labor) before 34 weeks gestation and every 4 weeks until birth. Data were also collected on the low-risk mothers beginning at 28 weeks and then every 4 weeks until birth. For this study, high- and low-risk groups were collapsed to examine food choices over time in all participants (n = 58).
Methods: Nutrition intake was examined by conducting one 24-hour diet recall at each time point. Food models and portion size pictures were used to improve accuracy.
Results: Overall, dietary intake was suboptimal, and micro- and macronutrient intake during the third trimester did not vary. Energy (caloric) intake was inadequate with the time-averaged probability of having inadequate caloric intake 64.4%. Protein intake was the most likely nutritional factor to be inadequate with a time-averaged estimated probability of inadequate intake 25.1%. Micronutrient intake from food was also inadequate.
Clinical Implications: The persistence of suboptimal nutritional intake during the third trimester supports the importance of continually assessing nutritional status throughout pregnancy, with a focus on caloric requirements and protein intake.