Mood Affects Diet During Pregnancy

Distressed women may cut back on healthy nutrients, study finds

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TUESDAY, June 14, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Women who are stressed out and tired during their pregnancy may eat more poorly, according to a new study.

Because certain nutrients are important to fetal health, women should be aware that their mood affects their diet, the experts warn.

The study of 134 women with normal, low-risk pregnancies found that those who were more fatigued during pregnancy reported higher consumption of energy foods and zinc and lower intake of folate, a micronutrient important to warding off birth defects.

Women who reported feeling stressed ate more breads and snack foods with fats, proteins, iron and zinc, reported researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The study, published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, also found that anxious moms-to-be had a lower intake of vitamin C, while women who said they felt "hassled" by their pregnancy ate less meat.

"Our findings suggest that women who are more fatigued, stressed and anxious eat more food, particularly carbohydrates," researcher Laura Caulfield, associate professor at Bloomberg's Center for Human Nutrition, said in a prepared statement. "While eating more food led to an increase in some important micronutrients, it also led to a decrease in others, like folate and vitamin C."

She believes psychosocial factors need to be considered when counseling pregnant women about their diet.

"Our research may provide fresh insights about factors related to dietary intake during pregnancy and open new avenues for increasing the effectiveness of nutrition programs," Caulfield said.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about eating during pregnancy.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, news release, June 2, 2005


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