Food and nutrient intake and adherence to dietary recommendations during pregnancy: a Nordic mother-child population-based cohort

Food Nutr Res. 2019 Dec 20:63. doi: 10.29219/fnr.v63.3676. eCollection 2019.


Background: A woman's food intake during pregnancy has important implications not only for herself but also for the future health and well-being of her child. Suboptimal dietary quality has been consistently reported in many high-income countries, reflecting poor adherence to dietary guidelines.

Objective: This study aimed to explore the intake of food and nutrients in a cohort of pregnant women in Norway and their adherence to Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR) and Norwegian food-based guidelines (NFG).

Design: We investigated the dietary intake in 1,674 pregnant women from the mother-child birth cohort, PreventADALL, recruited at approximately 18-week gestational age. Dietary intake was assessed by an electronic validated food frequency questionnaire (PrevFFQ) in the first half of pregnancy.

Results: Total fat intake was within the recommended intake (RI) range in most women; however, the contribution of saturated fatty acids to the total energy intake was above RI in the majority (85.2%) of women. Carbohydrate intake was below RI in 43.9% of the women, and 69.5% exceeded the RI of salt. Intakes of fiber, vegetables, and fish were high in a large part of the population. Many women had a high probability of inadequate intakes of the following key micronutrients during pregnancy: folate (54.4%), iron (49.6%), calcium (36.2%), vitamin D (28.7%), iodine (24.4%), and selenium (41.3%). A total of 22.8% women reported an alcohol intake of >1 g/day, and 4.4% reported an alcohol intake of >10 g/day. Women with higher educational levels showed a tendency towards healthier eating habits, except for higher intakes of alcohol and coffee, compared to women with lower educational level.

Discussion: Excessive saturated fat intake and limited intake of many important micronutrients during pregnancy were common, potentially increasing the risk for adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes.

Conclusions: This study highlights the need for improved nutritional guidance to pregnant women across all educational levels.

Keywords: Nordic diet; dietary intake; fetal programming; food intake; nutrients; nutritional recommendations.