Pregnant Women in Four Low-Middle Income Countries Have a High Prevalence of Inadequate Dietary Intakes That Are Improved by Dietary Diversity

Nutrients. 2019 Jul 10;11(7):1560. doi: 10.3390/nu11071560.


Background: Up-to-date dietary data are required to understand the diverse nutritional challenges of pregnant women living in low-middle income countries (LMIC). To that end, dietary data were collected from 1st trimester pregnant women in rural areas of Guatemala, India, Pakistan, and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) participating in a maternal lipid-based nutrient supplement (LNS) Randomized Controlled Trial to examine dietary diversity (DD), usual group energy and nutrient intakes, and prevalence of inadequate dietary intakes.

Methods: Two 24-h dietary recalls were conducted in ~240 pregnant women/site (total n = 966) prior to 12-week gestation. Adequate DD was assessed, i.e., ≥5 major food groups consumed within the past 24 h. Median, Q1, Q3 intakes (without LNS) of energy, macronutrients, 12 micronutrients, and phytate were examined. The "at risk" prevalence of inadequate intakes were based on international guidelines for pregnant women.

Results: Dietary patterns varied widely among sites, with adequate DD reported: 20% (Pakistan), 25% (DRC), 50% (Guatemala), and 70% (India). Significantly higher intakes of most key nutrients were observed in participants with adequate DD. More than 80% of women in all sites had inadequate intakes of folate, vitamin B12, and choline, and >80% of women in India and DRC also had inadequate intakes of calcium, thiamine, riboflavin, and vitamin B6.

Conclusions: Our data highlight the likely need for micronutrient supplementation in pregnancy, specifically multi-micronutrient interventions, and support the value of increasing DD as part of sustainable long-term nutrition programs for women of reproductive age in these poor rural settings in LMIC.

Keywords: dietary assessment; low middle income countries; nutrition; pregnant women.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Developing Countries
  • Diet* / methods
  • Diet* / statistics & numerical data
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Guatemala
  • Humans
  • India
  • Malnutrition* / diet therapy
  • Malnutrition* / epidemiology
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Pakistan
  • Poverty
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications* / diet therapy
  • Pregnancy Complications* / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Young Adult