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J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2003 Apr;29(2):96-103.

Nutritional status of pregnant and lactating women in Japan: a comparison with non-pregnant/non-lactating controls in the National Nutrition Survey.

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  • 1Division of Health and Nutrition Monitoring, National Institute of Health and Nutrition, Tokyo, Japan.



To describe the nutritional status in Japanese pregnant and lactating women at a national level, through a comparison with their non-pregnant/non-lactating controls.


Pooled data from five years (1995-1999) of the National Nutrition Survey, Japan. Data on 330 pregnant and 388 lactating women, and their one-by-one matched non-pregnant/non-lactating controls, were used for analysis.


There were fewer smokers, drinkers, and exercisers in pregnant women compared to their controls (P < 0.01). Both pregnant and lactating women showed significantly higher intakes of carbohydrates, calcium and vitamin B2. Mean iron intakes ranged 10.3-11.5 mg in the four groups, all being lower than the recommended intake level for non-pregnant/non-lactating women (12mg/day). Pregnant women consumed more fruits, milk and milk products, and less alcohol beverages and fish/shellfish compared to controls. Lactating women consumed more grain, vegetables, milk and milk products, and less alcohol beverages. There were 22.9% anemic subjects (Hb < 11 g/dL) in pregnant women, and 11.1% anemic subjects (Hb < 12g/dL) in lactating women and 15.7% in non-pregnant/non-lactating women. None of the pregnant subjects was severely anemic (Hb < 8 g/dL). No significant differences were observed in iron intakes between anemic and non-anemic women in each group.


Pregnant and lactating women in Japan were aware of adopting healthy behaviors, such as smoking less, drinking less, and taking more milk or milk products compared to controls. Prevalence of mild anemia in pregnant women may have been partly due to plasma volume expansion in pregnancy.

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