Dietary intakes of women during pregnancy in low- and middle-income countries

Sun Eun Lee, Sameera A Talegawkar, Mario Merialdi, Laura E. Caulfield

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Objective To provide a better understanding of dietary intakes of pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries. Design Systematic review was performed to identify relevant studies which reported nutrient intakes or food consumption of pregnant women in developing countries. Macronutrient and micronutrient intakes were compared by region and the FAO/WHO Estimated Average Requirements. Food consumption was summarized by region. Setting Developing countries in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean and Central/South America. Subjects Pregnant women in the second or third trimester of their pregnancies. Results From a total of 1499 retrieved articles, sixty-two relevant studies were analysed. The ranges of mean/median intakes of energy, fat, protein and carbohydrate were relatively higher in women residing in the Caribbean and Central/South America than in Africa and Asia. Percentages of energy from carbohydrate and fat varied inversely across studies in all regions, whereas percentage of energy from protein was relatively stable. Among selected micronutrients, folate and Fe intakes were most frequently below the Estimated Average Requirements, followed by Ca and Zn. Usual dietary patterns were heavily cereal based across regions. Conclusions Imbalanced macronutrients, inadequate micronutrient intakes and predominantly plant-based diets were common features of the diet of pregnant women in developing countries. Cohesive public health efforts involving improving access to nutrient-rich local foods, micronutrient supplementation and fortification are needed to improve the nutrition of pregnant women in developing countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1340-1353
Number of pages14
JournalPublic health nutrition
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • Developing countries
  • Food consumption
  • Keywords Pregnant women
  • Nutrient intakes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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