N° 28 | November 2008

PREGNANT WOMEN

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Editorial

A new nutritional risk group without fruit and vegetable consumption?

Fetal nutrition may influence the subsequent risk of chronic childhood and adulthood diseases. Unbalanced food intake together with metabolic changes occurring during pregnancy may influence the mother’s health by increasing the risk of obesity, which may be risk factor for metabolic conditions including gestational diabetes mellitus and hypertension.

Although recommendations for dietary intake and weight during pregnancy might be vary, several recommend an adequate (400-500 grams) daily intake of fresh fruit and vegetables for whole population. What a woman eats during pregnancy should cover her nutritional requirements, facilitate optimum growth of the fetus, prepare the body for a birth without complications, and contribute to a satisfactory lactation period. Given that energy intake need only be raised a little while nutrient intake must be increased much more, it would be advisable to lower fat and simple carbohydrate intakes and increase those of fruit, vegetables, greens and legumes. Along with vegetables, fruits provide antioxidants, especially vitamin C and beta-carotenes, which are essential during pregnancy. Undoubtedly, unless at least 4 – 5 portions of these foods are taken daily, it is impossible to reach the folic acid recommendation for pregnant women.

However, not only are proposed dietary guidelines generally not followed by the population, most women of childbearing age don’t even know they exist. They therefore frequently go through pregnancy with suboptimall nutritional status. Dietary counselling combined with the provision of food products during pregnancy is of importance in modifying food and nutrient intake, with potential health benefits.

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