Dietary patterns can influence maternal and child health outcomes. The study aims to characterize dietary patterns during pregnancy as well as to identify their associations with gestational weight gain (GWG) and anthropometric measurements at birth.
A minimum sample size of 95 nursing mothers was estimated for this work. Socioeconomic, anthropometric, physical activity, obstetric and food consumption (food frequency questionnaire) data was collected from mothers and their newborns in immediate postpartum (n = 260) at the maternity hospital. Maternal pregestational weight and GWG were self-reported and the neonatal data was obtained from their records. The patterns were derived posteriori by Principal Component Analysis (PCA). Multinomial Logistic Regression and Poisson Regression with Robust Variance were applied.
Four dietary patterns were derived: "pattern 1", characterized by the consumption of meat and eggs, processed meat, vegetables and olive oil; "pattern 2", consisting of sweets, snacks and cookies; "pattern 3", which includes cereals and breads, coffee and tea, and processed fats; and "pattern 4", characterized by soft drinks, tubers and instant noodles. Together, the dietary patterns account for 49.16% of the total variance for food intake. Higher adherence to "pattern 3" was associated with inadequate birth weight (low and excessive birth weight); while greater adherence to "pattern 2" was associated with lower chances of inadequate GWG.
The dietary patterns presented mixed composition and predominance of ultra-processed foods. They were associated with the investigated outcomes, denoting the importance of strategies to promote healthy eating habits during pregnancy in order to avoid possible complications.