Good nutrition is very important for pregnant women. Deficiency of certain nutrients in the diet can lead to such adverse effects as anemia and fetal neural tube defects. Considerable scientific evidence shows that diet is related to pregnancy outcome and frequency of complications. Demonstrating the importance of good maternal nutrition, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers a Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) through which low-income women at nutritional risk who are pregnant or post-partum can obtain healthful foods to supplement their diet. WIC also provides nutrition education and referrals to other services including health care. With the WIC supplemental foods, pregnant women should be able to meet all their nutritional needs. With WIC vouchers, participants can buy milk, cheese, cereals, fruit juices, dried beans, and selected other foods. Recently some WIC programs have started providing vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetables through a farmer’s market program. To examine the nutrient status of WIC participants, the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) has conducted a study of the dietary intake of participants. The study, Review of the Nutritional Status of WIC Participants (CNPP 1999) revealed that pregnant and post-partum women were not consuming the recommended amount of several important nutrients, including iron, calcium, folic acid, zinc, and magnesium. That research is extended here to examine the quality of the diet by assessing consumption of milk products, grains, fruits, vegetables, and meat-- the five food groups of the USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid (USDA, 1992) and how well recommendations for total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium intake are met. This Nutrition Insight describes the diet of pregnant women participating in the WIC program and lowincome and higher income women
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