Position of the American Dietetic Association: nutrition and lifestyle for a healthy pregnancy outcome

J Am Diet Assoc. 2008 Mar;108(3):553-61. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2008.01.030.


It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that women of child-bearing ages should maintain good nutritional status through a lifestyle that optimizes maternal health and reduces the risk of birth defects, suboptimal fetal growth and development, and chronic health problems in their children. The key components of a health-promoting lifestyle during pregnancy include appropriate weight gain; appropriate physical activity; consumption of a variety of foods in accordance with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005; appropriate and timely vitamin and mineral supplementation; avoidance of alcohol, tobacco, and other harmful substances; and safe food handling. Pregnant women with inappropriate weight gain, hyperemesis, poor dietary patterns, phenylketonuria, certain chronic health problems, or a history of substance abuse should be referred to a registered dietitian for medical nutrition therapy. Prenatal weight gain within the Institute of Medicine recommended ranges has been associated with better pregnancy outcomes. Most pregnant women need 2,200 to 2,900 kcal a day, but prepregnancy body mass index, rate of weight gain, maternal age, and appetite must be considered when tailoring this recommendation to the individual. The consumption of more food to meet energy needs, and the increased absorption and efficiency of nutrient utilization that occurs in pregnancy, are generally adequate to meet the needs for most nutrients. However, vitamin and mineral supplementation is appropriate for some nutrients and situations. This position paper also includes recommendations pertaining to use of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and illicit drugs.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diet / standards*
  • Dietetics / standards*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Maternal Welfare
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Nutritional Status
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Societies
  • United States
  • Weight Gain