Pregnant women should not rely too much on nutritional supplements: Study

Survey finds half of pregnant women have excessive sodium intake during early pregnancy

Maternal nutrition and lifestyle habits before and during early pregnancy are important determinants for the foetus’s growth and development. A survey conducted by The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)’s Faculty of Medicine (CU Medicine) found that half of pregnant women had excessive sodium intake during early pregnancy, with the mean daily intake double that of the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s recommendation. In addition, 97% of the survey participants did not meet the recommended fibre intake.

The survey also showed that the participants had an insufficient intake of important micronutrients such as calcium and iron in their diet. The researchers suggested that pregnant women should increase the frequency with which they consume fresh fruits and vegetables.

Also, nutritional supplements should not be regarded as substitutes for healthy diets, and unhealthy dietary patterns increase the risk of pregnancy problems including being overweight and suffering from gestational diabetes mellitus, large babies and postpartum weight retention.

This is the first study to investigate the dietary patterns and nutritional intake of women in early pregnancy in Hong Kong.

Dr Tam Wing-hung, Clinical Professor (Honorary) in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at CU Medicine, explained, “Our studies have shown that maternal diet is closely related to various pregnancy complications. Suboptimal dietary habits such as excessive intake of sugar, meat and processed food, as well as low dietary fibre intake, are associated with an increased risk of gestational diabetes.”

Image credit- CUHK

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