Background: Adequate maternal nutrient intake during pregnancy is important to ensure satisfactory birth outcomes. There are no data available on the usual dietary intake among pregnant women in rural China. The present study describes and evaluates the dietary intake in a cohort of pregnant women living in two counties of rural Shaanxi, western China.
Methods: 1420 pregnant women were recruited from a trial that examined the effects of micronutrient supplementation on birth outcomes. Dietary information was collected at the end of their trimester or after delivery with an interviewed-administrated semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Nutrients intake was calculated from the FFQ and compared to the Estimated Average Requirements (EAR). The EAR cut-offs based on the Chinese Nutrition Society Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) were used to assess the prevalence of inadequate dietary intakes of energy, protein, calcium, zinc, riboflavin, vitamin C and folate. Mann-Whitney U and Kruskal Wallis tests were used to compare nutrient intakes across subgroups.
Results: The mean nutrient intakes assessed by the FFQ was similar to those reported in the 2002 Chinese National Nutrition and Health Survey from women living in rural areas except for low intakes of protein, fat, iron and zinc. Of the participants, 54% were at risk of inadequate intake of energy. There were high proportions of pregnant women who did not have adequate intakes of folate (97%) and zinc (91%). Using the "probability approach", 64% of subjects had an inadequate consumption of iron.
Conclusion: These results reveal that the majority of pregnant women in these two counties had low intakes of nutrients that are essential for pregnancy such as iron and folate.
Trial registration: ISRCTN08850194.