Purpose: Dietary intake and substance abuse are important predictors of pregnancy outcome yet little is known about these behaviors in Mexican Americans. Dietary, tobacco, and alcohol intake of Mexican-American and non-Hispanic white women were compared across the reproductive cycle.
Design: Four cross-sectional groups--interconceptional, pregnant, lactating, and postpartum non-lactating--were compared within and between ethnic groups.
Subjects: A stratified sample of 682 women, 16 to 44 years old, of Mexican birth or origin from the Hispanic HANES was contrasted with a similarly stratified sample of 1,396 white non-Hispanic women from the NHANES:
Measures: Demographic, behavioral and health characteristics, food practices, and fluid intake were examined. Data on food servings were combined into five major food groups.
Results: Compared with white non-Hispanics, Mexican-American women had lower socioeconomic status and worse perceived health. However, Mexican Americans reported lower consumption of tobacco, alcohol, diet soda, and caffeine, particularly during pregnancy and lactation. Although portion sizes for the foods consumed were not assessed, frequency of consumption of fruits and vegetables and milk was lower and meat higher among Mexican Americans.
Conclusions: Despite socioeconomic disadvantages, Mexican-American women have better health habits than white non-Hispanic women. From these data it is unclear how diet affects pregnancy outcomes in Mexican Americans.