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Malays J Nutr. 2012 Aug;18(2):243-53.

Food restrictions during pregnancy among Indigenous Temiar women in peninsular Malaysia.

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School of Health Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia Health Campus, 16150 Kubang Kerian Kelantan, Malaysia.
School of Humanities and Social Science, Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan NSW 2308, Australia.
SRS-Social Science, Social Science Annex, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan NSW 2308, Australia.



A qualitative comparative case study was conducted to compare and contrast food taboos and avoidance practices during pregnancy among Orang Asli or indigenous Temiar women in four distinct locations that represent different lifestyle experiences and cultural practices.


Through snowballing sampling, a total of 38 participants took part in five focus groups: one group each in Pos Simpor and Pos Tohoi in Kelantan state, one group in Batu 12, Gombak in Selangor state, and two groups in a regroupment scheme (RPSOA) in Kuala Betis, Kelantan. All the transcripts were coded, categorised and 'thematised' using the software package for handling qualitative data, NVivo 8.


Variant food prohibitions were recorded among the Temiar women residing in different locations, which differ in food sources and ways of obtaining food. Consumption of seventeen types of food items was prohibited for a pregnant Temiar woman and her husband during the prenatal period. Fear of difficulties during labour and delivery, convulsions or sawan, harming the baby (such as foetal malformation), and twin pregnancy seemed to trigger many food proscriptions for the pregnant Temiar women, most of which have been passed on from generation to generation.


The findings of this study confirm that beliefs about food restrictions are strong among those Temiar living a traditional lifestyle. However, those who have adopted a more modern lifestyle also preserve them to some extent.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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