Objective: To investigate the relationships between self-assessed financial difficulties, diet in pregnancy and birthweight.
Design: Information on diet composition, difficulty in affording food, smoking habits and parity was collected by self-completion questionnaires at 32 weeks of pregnancy. Information on birthweights was obtained from hospital records.
Subjects: A geographically defined population 11833 pregnant women resident in the South-West of England.
Main outcome measures: Nutrient intakes, food choices and birthweight.
Results: Women with greater difficulty in affording food had lower intakes of protein, fibre, vitamin C, niacin, pyridoxine, iron, zinc, magnesium and potassium than did women with little or no difficulty. They were more likely to use cooking and spreading fats with a high saturates content, and less likely to eat fish, fruit, vegetables and salad. In a multivariate analysis including parity and smoking status, financial difficulty was found to have no significant relationship with birthweight.
Conclusion: The quality of diet in pregnancy falls with increasing difficulty in affording food. However, this does not appear to affect mean birthweight of infants born after 32 weeks gestation.