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Nutritional Requirements During Pregnancy

Source: Health Canada website and Media Photo Gallery, Health Canada, Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2006.

  • Iron, folate, calcium and vitamin D are all required in greater amounts during pregnancy.[5]

  • In addition to increasing intake of certain nutrients, pregnant women should increase their daily energy intake by 100 to 300 kcal.[5]

  • Inadequate maternal nutrition is associated with insufficient maternal weight gain, inadequate fetal growth, and risk for delivery of a low birth weight infant.[6]


Can you think of the best way to increase intake of these nutrients?

What costs might be associated with this?

Iron Deficiency

The Centres for Disease Control in the United States estimates that low income women attending public health clinics have a prevalence of anemia of 8%, 12% and 29% in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimesters of their pregnancies, respectively.[7] Maternal iron deficiency is associated with a twice increased risk of preterm delivery and a three times increased risk of low birth weight.[7] It results in decreased work capacity, impaired cognitive function, fatigue and depression in pregnant women and new mothers.[7][8] There is a high prevalence of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia in the general population of reproductive age females. In the United States, 1 in 10 reproductive aged women is iron deficient and 1 in 20 has iron deficiency anemia.[7] Worldwide, iron deficiency is estimated to be the most important single nutrient deficiency.[8] Iron is therefore a nutrient of particular concern in pregnancy.


5. Health Canada. Nutrition for a healthy pregnancy: National guidelines for the childbearing years. Ottawa: Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada; 1999.

6. Widga, AC, Lewis, NM. Defined, in home, prenatal nutrition intervention for low-income women. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 1999;99:1058-62

7. Bodnar, LM, Scanlon, KS, Freedman, DS, Siega-Riz, AM, Cogswell, ME. High prevalence of post partum anemia among low income women in the United States. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2001;185:438-43.

8. Beard, JL, et al. Maternal iron deficiency anemia affects postpartum emotions and cognition. The Journal of Nutrition 2005;235:267-72.

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