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J Am Coll Nutr. 2008 Feb;27(1):137-45.

Maternal nutrition and birth size among urban affluent and rural women in India.

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Biometry & Nutrition Unit, Agharkar Research Institute, Pune, India.



Varying results of worldwide intervention programs to pregnant mothers necessitate the need to understand the relationship between maternal nutrition and birth size among well nourished and undernourished mothers.


To examine this relationship among urban affluent mothers and to compare the findings with those on rural Indian mothers.


Data collected on urban affluent mothers (n = 236) was compared with rural mothers (n = 633).


Mothers were contacted at 18 +/- 2 and 28 +/- 2 wk of gestation for anthropometry, dietary intakes [24-hr recall, Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ)] and after delivery for neonatal anthropometry.


Despite large differences in nutritional status of urban and rural mothers ( pre-pregnant weight 55.9 +/- 9.2 Vs 41.5 +/- 5.2 kg, respectively) maternal fat intakes at 18 wk were associated with birth weight (p < 0.05), length (p < 0.01) and triceps skin fold thickness (p < 0.05) of the newborn in urban and rural mothers. Consumption of fruits was associated with birth length (p < 0.05) in urban (18wk) and with birth weight (p < 0.01) and length (p < 0.01) in rural (28wk) mothers, when their energy intakes were low. Maternal consumption of milk too, was associated with newborn's triceps (p < 0.01) in urban (28wk) while with birth weight (p < 0.05) and length (p < 0.05) in rural (18wk) mothers. The findings mainly underscore the importance of consumption of micronutrient rich foods, when energy intakes are limiting during pregnancy, for improving birth size.


Creating nutritional awareness and motivating rural mothers for consuming micronutrient rich foods like green leafy vegetables and seasonal fruits that are easily available in rural areas, will be a much affordable solution for combating the problem of low birth weight rather than waiting for improvement in the existing nationwide programs for pregnant women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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