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Public Health Nutr. 2009 Aug;12(8):1276-83. doi: 10.1017/S1368980008003881. Epub 2008 Nov 10.

Maternal cereal consumption and adequacy of micronutrient intake in the periconceptional period.

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  • 1Magee-Womens Research Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.



To assess the adequacy of periconceptional intake of key micronutrients for perinatal health in relation to regular cereal consumption of pregnant women.


Low-income pregnant women (n 596) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, who enrolled in a cohort study at <20 weeks' gestation. These women reported usual dietary intake in the three months around conception on an FFQ. Cereal consumers were women who reported consuming any dry cereal at least three times per week. High risk for nutrient inadequacy was defined as intake less than the Estimated Average Requirement.


About 31 % of the women regularly consumed cereal. After adjusting for energy intake, race/ethnicity, marital status, breakfast consumption and supplement use, cereal eaters had significantly higher intakes of folate, Fe, Zn, Ca, fibre and vitamins A, C, D and E (all P < 0.01) and were approximately two to six times more likely to have intakes in the highest third of the distribution for folate, Fe, Zn, Ca, vitamins A and D, and fibre (all P < 0.01) than cereal non-eaters. Cereal consumption was also associated with reductions of 65-90 % in the risk of nutrient inadequacies compared with non-consumption (all P < 0.01).


Encouraging cereal consumption may be a simple, safe and inexpensive nutrition intervention that could optimize periconceptional intake for successful placental and fetal development.

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