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Effects Of Dietary Practices During Pregnancy On The Anthropometric Indices Of Newborn In The Urban And Rural Parts Of Owerri




The main purpose of this study was to assess the effect of dietary practices during pregnancy on the anthropometric indices of newborn in the urban and rural parts of Owerri.  Specifically, the study sought to determine the dietary pattern and lifestyle of the mothers, determine the socio-demographic factors influencing pregnant women in the rural and urban areas of Owerri; determine the anthropometric indices of the newborn in the rural and urban areas of Owerri; correlate dietary and lifestyle among rural and urban pregnant mothers in relation to the anthropometric indices of their newborns. A cross-sectional design was adopted for the study. The population comprised all Post-natal mothers attending immunization in hospitals and maternity homes in Owerri municipal and Owerri West respectively.  Simple random sampling was used to draw three hundred and ninety five(395) pregnant women who participated in the study. A structured questionnaire was used for data collection. Their height and weight were also taken and compared with WHO standards as well as the Anthropometric indices of neonates. Data collected were analyzed using means, standard deviations, correlation and regression analyses. Findings revealed that most of the respondents were from rural community, 76.2% were middle aged, All the respondents were Christians. Majority (90.6%) were married. About 86.6% of the respondents were fairly educated as more than half of the respondents (66.5%) were farmers, traders and artisans, 90.4% and 9.6% had poor and fair knowledge of nutrient sources and deficiencies.  More rural respondents skipped their meals because they were not hungry; 98.5% of the respondents ate snacks, while  52.2%, 66.3% and 50.8% ate more in the first, second and third trimesters of their pregnancies. The findings of the study revealed that there were no significant (p>0.05) differences in neonatal length; head, and chest circumferences between rural and urban neonates. Maternal nutrition knowledge did not affect neonatal weight. The study therefore concludes that low prevalence of low Birth Weight recorded is an indication of the effectiveness of maternal and child care programme. Also, the early registration and regular antenatal checkups, the use of supplements and some pregnancy adaptations must have contributed to the normal weight gain. The finding of this study recommends the reactivation and expansion of the mother and child health programme and free antenatal care in the State.



1.1       Background of the Study

Proper nutrition during pregnancy is considered important for the wellbeing of both mother and foetus. A balanced diet supports maternal health during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding. Maternal nutrition affects the growth and development of the foetus, and also later health outcomes in the offspring. Maternal weight status influences both the mother and her child throughout the entire reproductive cycle, beginning before conception and continuing through lactation. There is a relative paucity of data on maternal diet in pregnancy and the association between diet and gestational weight gain. In addition, little is known about the associations between obesity, excessive weight gain in pregnancy and type 1diabetes (T1D) in children. According to earlier findings among Nigerian girls and women, intakes of vitamin D, folic acid and iron are below the recommended levels (Paturi et al., 2008).

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Nutritional future of a child is highly dependent on maternal nutritional status in pregnancy. Mother’s nutritional status is a major determinant of not only the health outcome but also chronic disease risk in a new born during both childhood and adult life. Unfortunately, in developing countries, pregnant females are nutritionally the most insecure group and a large number of expectant mothers do not receive optimum level of essential nutrients during their gestational period (Tianan., et al, 2005). Nutrient requirements increase during periods of growth and development such as pregnancy. An adequate amount of nutrients is needed to support fetal and infant growth and development along with alterations in maternal tissues and metabolism (Picciano, 2003). It is estimated that recommended intakes of 14 of the 21 essential micronutrients increase during pregnancy (Allen, 2006). Interest in nutrition during pregnancy has been generated by the fetal origins theory of adult disease (Barker, 1992). Maternal nutrition is thought to be able to programme long-term effects on the offspring without necessarily affecting the infant’s size at birth. Experimental data suggest that the period in which these early life events influence lifelong consequences can extend from conception to infancy, depending on the organ system involved (Gluckman et al., 2005).

The traditional way to assess diet is to examine the consumption of certain food items or the intake of energy and nutrients. The complexities of diet make it difficult to consider the role of individual foods or nutrients in isolation as nutrients may interact with each other and influence each other´s bioavailability and absorption (Michels & Schulze, 2005). Dietary pattern analysis is a method that aims to describe the whole diet. The use of dietary patterns might help us to capture some of the complexity of diet that may be lost in nutrient-based analyses (Jacques & Tucker, 2001), and provide additional information when exploring the relationship between nutrition and disease.

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It is well known that dietary intake during pregnancy impacts fetal growth and development as well as maternal health. However, a woman’s weight status and dietary intake over the course of her life and particularly before becoming pregnant may also affect fetal growth and development and long-term maternal health (Stevenson et al, 2014).

Maternal obesity prior to pregnancy has been associated with negative maternal outcomes including increased risk of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, venous thrombo-embolism, induction of labour, caesarean delivery, excessive gestational weight gain, and post-partum weight retention (Melzer and Schulz 2010). Pre-pregnancy maternal obesity is also associated with increased risk of poor infant outcomes including fetal macrosomia, childhood obesity and increased risk of diabetes later in life. Due to its importance for both maternal and infant outcomes, weight status of women prior to pregnancy has been emphasized as a key variable in the United States Institute of Medicine gestational weight gain guidelines published in 2009 (Monpetit et al., 2010).

1.2       Statement of the Problem

While the effects of pre-pregnancy dietary intake are not well characterized, improvements prior to pregnancy may decrease the risk of poor maternal and fetal outcomes. Maternal nutrition status prior to conception and during the peri-implantation phase is believed to affect embryonic and fetal growth. In addition to high dietary fat intake, maternal nutrient deficiencies prior to pregnancy have also been linked with fetal developmental defects. The most commonly known defect related to pre-pregnancy nutrition is the increased risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) with low levels of maternal folate. Other nutrient insufficiencies or deficiencies may also be important. One study found that after adjusting for energy intake, low maternal dietary intake of vegetable protein, fibre, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin D, iron and magnesium were linked to an increased risk of orofacial clefts in newborns.

Determining an appropriate method of dietary intake assessment during the pre-pregnancy period is important to support future interventions. For example, it has been found that women who received pre-conception advice from a health professional were more likely than other women to make positive behavior changes prior to pregnancy including taking supplementary folic acid and consuming a healthier diet. A pre-pregnancy dietary intake assessment tool that has the potential to track changes could assist in determining the impact of /interventions in creating positive diet changes during this critical period. However, recruitment of women before pregnancy is difficult, thus a tool that examines dietary intake retrospectively would be important. Hence, a study was designed to highlight the effects of dietary and lifestyle practices during pregnancy on the anthropometric indices of newly born in the urban and rural parts of Owerri.

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1.3       Objectives of the Study

General Objective;

The general objective of the study was to determine the effect of dietary practices during pregnancy on the anthropometric indices of newly born in rural and urban areas of Owerri Municipal.

The specific objectives were:

  1. To determine the dietary pattern and nutrition lifestyle of the mothers using questionnaires
  2. To determine the socio-demographic factors influencing pregnant women in the rural and urban areas of Owerri.
  3. To determine the anthropometric indices of the newborn in the rural and urban areas of Owerri.
  4. To correlate dietary practices among rural and urban pregnant mothers in relation to the anthropometric indices of their newborns.

1.4       Significance of the Study

It will be recalled that in 2007, the Government of Imo State mounted a programme on maternal and child health (MCH) to reduce maternal and child mortality in the State. This will provide baseline information on the prevalence of low birth weight, nutrition knowledge, dietary practices and anthropometric indices of new born, as well as on the relationship between maternal nutrition and pregnancy outcome among pregnant women in Imo State. Such information will be necessary for the evaluation of some of the nutrition intervention programmes mounted by the government of Imo State.

The results of this study will help policy makers review existing and future policies and programmes regarding maternal and child health. Furthermore, this study will help in assessing progress so far made towards the achievement of Goal 4 and Goal 5 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which are reduction of child mortality and improvement of maternal health, respectively.

Nutritionists and health practitioners will use the result of this study to design nutrition education packages for mothers and would be mothers, on the importance of promoting optimal nutrient intake, to ensure optimal foetal development, which will in turn reduce the risk of chronic diseases in adults.

Students of human nutrition and other related fields of study will be motivated by the result of this study to engage more on studies pertaining to maternal and child health.

Pages:  83

Category: Project

Format:  Word & PDF               

Chapters: 1-5                                          

Source: Imsuinfo                                     

Material contains Table of Content, Abstract and References.


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