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Coffee & Health

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

C M Saunders et al, 2019.
Food and Nutrition Research published online.
January 13, 2020



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.


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).


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.


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.


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.


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

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