The association between the macronutrient content of maternal diet and the adequacy of micronutrients during pregnancy in the Women and Their Children’s Health (WATCH) study

Nutrients. 2012 Dec 6;4(12):1958-76. doi: 10.3390/nu4121958.


Nutrition during pregnancy can induce alterations in offspring phenotype. Maternal ratio of protein to non-protein (P:NP) energy has been linked to variations in offspring body composition and adult risk of metabolic disease. This study describes the dietary patterns of pregnant women by tertiles of the P:NP ratio and compares diet to Australian recommendations. Data are from 179 Australian women enrolled in the Women and Their Children's Health Study. Diet was assessed using a validated 74-item food frequency questionnaire. Food group servings and nutrient intakes were compared to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and Australian Nutrient Reference Values. Higher maternal P:NP tertile was positively associated with calcium (P = 0.003), zinc (P = 0.001) and servings of dairy (P = 0.001) and meat (P = 0.001) food groups, and inversely associated with the energy dense, nutrient poor non-core (P = 0.003) food group. Micronutrient intakes were optimized with intermediate protein (18%E-20%E), intermediate fat (28%E-30%E) and intermediate carbohydrate (50%E-54%E) intakes, as indicated in tertile two. Results suggest a moderate protein intake may support pregnant women to consume the largest variety of nutrients across all food groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Calcium / administration & dosage
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Diet / standards*
  • Diet Surveys
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care*
  • Reference Values
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult
  • Zinc / administration & dosage*


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Micronutrients
  • Zinc
  • Calcium