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J Nurs Scholarsh. 2010 Jun;42(2):147-55. doi: 10.1111/j.1547-5069.2010.01345.x.

Skipping meals and less walking among African Americans diagnosed with preterm labor.

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  • 1Department of Family Health Care Nursing, School of Nursing, University of California-San Francisco, 2 Koret Way, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.



The aim was to compare meal frequency, macronutrient intake, and physical activity between African Americans with preterm labor and those without preterm labor.


A descriptive comparative study was used with 80 pregnant African Americans.


Three 24-hour diet recalls, the Block 2005 food frequency questionnaire, International Physical Activity Questionnaire, and Perceived Stress Scale were collected at 24 to 34 weeks of gestation.


The odds of skipping meals for women in the preterm labor group was 3.57 times the odds of skipped meals for women in the term labor group (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.28-10.16, p=.006). The association was increased to 6.86 (95% CI 2.13-22.12, p<.001) after adjustment for age, prepregnancy body mass index, education, and income. Walking was significantly less in terms of total amount of walking in the preterm labor group (p=.03).


Results have implications for prenatal counseling regarding the importance of frequent meal and snack consumption throughout the day. Further research is necessary to establish the mechanisms by which energy consumption contributes to risk for preterm labor.


Pregnancy is a time when health professionals monitor women regularly and presents a unique opportunity for practitioners to communicate the importance of frequent meals and snacks throughout pregnancy, as well as the health benefits of walking as a form of physical activity.

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