Mediterranean-style diet and birth outcomes in an urban, multiethnic, and low-income us population

Dong Keun Rhee, Yuelong Ji, Xiumei Hong, Colleen Pearson, Xiaobin Wang, Laura E. Caulfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Findings on the role of Mediterranean-style diet (MSD) on duration of pregnancy and birth weight have been inconsistent and based largely on Non-Hispanic white populations, making it unclear as to whether they could extend to African Americans who are at a higher risk of unfavorable birth outcomes. Our study addresses this gap using a large urban, multiethnic, predominantly low-income cohort of mother-infant dyads from Boston, MA, USA. Dietary information was obtained via food frequency questionnaires; health information including birth outcomes were extracted from medical records. A Mediterranean-style diet score (MSDS) was formulated based on intake history, and linear and log-binomial regressions were performed to assess its association with birth outcomes. After adjustment, the lowest MSDS quintile from the overall sample was found to be associated with an increased relative risk (RR) of overall preterm birth (RR 1.18; 95% CI: 1.06–1.31), spontaneous preterm birth (1.28; 1.11–1.49), late preterm birth (1.21; 1.05–1.39), and low birth weight (1.11; 1.01–1.22), compared to the highest quintile. The findings were similar for the African American sample. Our study adds to the current understanding of the diet’s influence on birth outcomes by demonstrating that adherence to MSD may improve birth outcomes for African American women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1188
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • African Americans
  • Birth outcomes
  • Diet counseling
  • Low birth weight
  • Maternal diet
  • Mediterranean diet
  • Nutrition
  • Pregnancy
  • Preterm birth
  • Public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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