Food choices of low-income women during pregnancy and postpartum.

Research paper by Goldy C GC George, Henry H Hanss-Nuss, Tracey J TJ Milani, Jeanne H JH Freeland-Graves

Indexed on: 09 Jun '05Published on: 09 Jun '05Published in: Journal of The American Dietetic Association


The purpose of this study was to examine dietary behavior during pregnancy and postpartum in a multiethnic sample of low-income women.Participants were 149 Medicaid-qualified women (30% white, 24% African American, and 46% Hispanic; median age, 22 years).Subjects were recruited into a longitudinal cohort design 0 to 1 days following delivery. Dietary choices during pregnancy and the first 6 months postpartum were assessed via validated food frequency questionnaires administered at 6 weeks and 6 months postpartum, respectively.Frequencies and means were used for descriptive purposes. Paired and independent sample t tests were used for continuous variables; chi 2 and McNemar tests were used for categorical variables.In all subjects, mean daily servings of grains (7.4 vs 6.2, P <.004), vegetables (2.5 vs 2.0, P <.002), and fruit (3.4 vs 1.7, P <.001) declined following childbirth, while the percentage of energy from fat (37.3% vs 38.4%, P <.023) and added sugar (14.4% vs 16.4%, P <.019) increased. Women who breastfed their infants at 6 months postpartum reported lower intakes of total fat (34.2% vs 37.9%, P <.005) during pregnancy and higher fruit (2.2 vs 1.6, P <.05) and vegetable (2.6 vs 1.8, P <.02) intakes in postpartum than those who bottle-fed. Also, a greater proportion of lactating than nonlactating women (66.7% vs 36.9%, P <.05) met recommendations for fruit intake during pregnancy.The findings suggest that the transition from pregnancy to postpartum may be associated with a negative impact on dietary behavior that could compromise nutritional status in low-income women.