Maternal dietary consumption of legumes, vegetables and fruit during pregnancy, does it protect against small for gestational age?

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2018 Dec 11;18(1):486. doi: 10.1186/s12884-018-2123-4.


Background: Different diets during pregnancy might have an impact on the health, reflected in the birthweight of newborns. The consumption of fruits and vegetables during pregnancy and the relationship with newborn health status have been studied by several authors. However, these studies have shown inconsistent results.

Purpose: We assessed whether certain foods were related to the risk of small for gestational age (SGA).

Methods: A matched by age (± 2 years) and hospital 1:1 case-control study of 518 pairs of pregnant Spanish women in five hospitals was conducted. The cases were women with an SGA newborn at delivery (neonates weighting less than the 10th percentile, adjusted for gestational age at delivery and sex, were diagnosed as SGA). The control group comprised women giving birth to babies adequate for gestational age (AGA). Mothers who gave birth to babies large for gestational age (LGA) were excluded. Data were gathered concerning demographic characteristics, socioeconomic status, toxic habits and diet. A food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) comprising 137 items was completed by all participants. The intake of vegetables, legumes and fruits was categorized in quintiles (Q1-Q5). Crude values and and adjusted odds ratios (AORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using conditional logistic regression. The variables for adjustment were as follows: preeclampsia, education, smoking, weight gain per week during pregnancy, fish intake and previous preterm/low birthweight newborns.

Results: Total pulse intake showed an inverse association with the risk of SGA (trend p = 0.02). Women with an intake of fruits above 420 g/day (Q5), compared with women in Q1 (≤ 121 g/day) showed a decreased risk of SGA (AOR = 0.63, 95% CI = 0.40-0.98). The total consumption of vegetables was not associated with the risk of SGA. The intake of selenium was assessed: a protective association was observed for Q3-5; a daily intake above 60 μg was associated with a lower risk of SGA (AOR = 0.39, 95% CI: 0.22-0.69).

Conclusions: Fruits, pulses and selenium reduce the risk of SGA in Spanish women.

Keywords: Fruits; Legumes; Maternal diet; Selenium; Small for gestational age; Vegetables.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fabaceae*
  • Female
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Protective Factors
  • Selenium
  • Spain
  • Vegetables*


  • Selenium