Poor nutrition during pregnancy results

A woman’s nutritional status at the time she becomes pregnant influences her health during pregnancy and the health of her baby. Under-nourished women may also lack the nutritional stores required to support embryo growth. A woman’s nutritional status at the time she becomes pregnant also influences the differentiation of cells in the embryo into foetal and placental cells.
When a foetus is malnourished in the early (and later) stages of pregnancy it may also have a lifelong programming effect which predisposes the baby to chronic health conditions later in life. Iron-deficiency – is a common cause of anaemia which is thought to affect up to 20% of pregnant women in industrialised countries. Vitamin A deficiency – is associated with night-blindness (difficulty seeing at night) in pregnancy (although this is mainly an problem in developing countries). Increased risk of micronutrient deficiency during pregnancy – women who have micronutrient deficiencies when they become pregnant are unlikely to improve their micronutrient status during pregnancy. Folate deficiency in early pregnancy is associated with deficits in the development of the neural tube (the tube from which the brain and spinal cord develop) which may result in conditions such as spina bifida. Pregnant women who receive inadequate nutrition experience greater maternal morbidity (are more likely to be ill whilst pregnant) and have a higher risk of poor pregnancy outcomes (e.g. However, the effects of maternal under-nutrition vary depending on the stage of pregnancy at which under-nutrition is experienced.
Individuals who are born at a low weight have a greater risk of poor development outcomes during infancy and childhood. There are also numerous maternal and foetal health risks associated with micronutrient deficiency during pregnancy, that is, deficiency in particular micronutrients such as folate, and vitamin B12.

A woman’s deficiency in particular micronutrients whilst she is pregnant has detrimental effects on particular aspects of foetal development. For more information about pregnancy, including preconception advice, stages of pregnancy, investigations, complications, living with pregnancy and birth, see Pregnancy.
For more information on nutrition, including information ontypes and composition of food, nutrition and people, conditions related to nutrition, and diets and recipes, as well as some useful videos and tools, see Nutrition. For more information about pregnancy planning, including importance of nutrition before pregnancy, being under-weight, being overweight, tobacco exposure and alcohol consumption, see Pregnancy Planning (Preconception Advice). Malnutrition results in the individual being underweight and experiencing greater ill-health. They may fail to gain sufficient weight during pregnancy and have a higher risk of maternal mortality (dying whilst pregnant) than normal weight women. When the embryo implants into the wall of a woman’s uterus, it develops two types of cells, those that will become the foetus and those which will become the placenta (the structure which nourishes and supports the foetus during pregnancy). It is during the first five weeks of pregnancy when the foetus develops most of its organs (e.g. They are therefore more likely to experience a range of health complications which are associated with micronutrient deficiency during pregnancy. For example, one study reported that exposure to maternal malnutrition in the first trimester of pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of obesity and coronary heart disease, while malnutrition in the second or third trimester was associated with poor glucose metabolism. Improving the health and nutrition of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and children in low-income households.
During pregnancy, increased intake is required of several nutrients, such as vitamins A, B1, B2, C and D and folate (Table 1).

In the first few days after conception the embryo exists in the woman’s womb but has not yet implanted into the lining of the womb where it will grow throughout the pregnancy. As folate absorption is most critical in the early stages of pregnancy, ensuring adequate preconception iron status is also important. This is thought to program and permanently alter the individual’s glucose and insulin metabolism throughout their life and increase the risk of chronic nutritional disorders including type 2 diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome and obesity.
The nerve system made during this time impacts the way the brain is structurally and functionally organised (cortical organisation) throughout life. Its results will be published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.Body mass index – worked out using a person’s weight relative to their height – was used to determine if a woman was fat when she fell pregnant. This is known as the pre-implantation period and is the period of pregnancy in which cells divide and replicate most rapidly.
Her nutritional status at the time she becomes pregnant is also an important factor influencing the health of the foetus, as well as the long term health of the infant. Impaired embryo development in turn adversely effects the development of the foetus in the later stages of pregnancy. As the woman is usually unaware she is pregnant at this early stage, she can only ensure she is well nourished by eating properly before she becomes pregnant. As in pregnancy, a daily supplement of vitamin D is required for breastfeeding women.Please login or register to read the rest of the article and to have access to downloads and comments.

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