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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Consumption habits of pregnant women and implications for developmental biology: a survey of predominantly Hispanic women in California

Sarah E Santiago, Grace H Park and Kelly J Huffman*

Author Affiliations

Department of Psychology, University of California, 900 University Avenue, Riverside, CA, 92521-0128, California

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Nutrition Journal 2013, 12:91  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-91

Published: 1 July 2013

Abstract

Background

Healthy post-pregnancy outcomes are contingent upon an informed regimen of prenatal care encouraging healthy maternal consumption habits. In this article, we describe aspects of maternal intake of food, drink, and medication in a population of predominantly Hispanic women in Southern California. Potential implications for unhealthy prenatal dietary choices are discussed.

Methods

The Food, Beverage, and Medication Intake Questionnaire (FBMIQ) measures common practices of maternal consumption during pregnancy. The FBMIQ was administered to English and Spanish speaking pregnant and recently pregnant (36 weeks pregnant - 8 weeks post-partum) women over the age of 18 who were receiving care from a private medical group in Downey CA.

Results

A total of 200 women completed the FBMIQ. Consumption habits of healthy foods and beverages, unhealthy foods, unhealthy beverages, and medication are characterized in this article. Data indicate widespread consumption of fresh fruit, meats, milk and juice and indicate most women used prenatal vitamin supplements. Studies in developmental neuroscience have shown that certain substances may cause teratogenic effects on the fetus when ingested by the mother during pregnancy. Those potentially harmful substances included in our study were Bisphenol-A (BPA), methylmercury, caffeine, alcohol and certain medications. Our results show that a proportion of the women surveyed in our study consumed BPA, methylmercury, caffeine, alcohol, and certain medications at varied levels during pregnancy. This represents an interesting finding and suggests a disconnect between scientific data and general recommendations provided to pregnant mothers by obstetricians.

Conclusions

The results of our study demonstrate that a proportion of pregnant women consume substances that are potentially teratogenic and may impact the health and well being of the offspring. It is important to appraise healthy and unhealthy consumption habits in order to encourage healthy practices and alleviate future effects of preventable, toxin-induced developmental issues. Prenatal advising should discourage the consumption of dangerous foods, beverages, and medications that women commonly report eating during pregnancy.

Keywords:
Prenatal exposure; Maternal diet; Environmental toxins; Fetal health