At no point in the life cycle is nutrition more important than before and during pregnancy. Diet is a major environmental factor influencing the development of the embryo and fetus, while maintaining maternal health. Impaired development in utero may “programme” the fetus for developing metabolic diseases in adulthood. The aim of the present study was to examine maternal nutrient intakes during early pregnancy. 257 healthy women were recruited from the antenatal clinic at the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin. Participants were considered for this study if they were between 10 and 18 weeks gestation, had a singleton pregnancy, with adequate English. All participants completed a 3-day food diary and recorded in as much detail as possible their food and beverage intakes. Collected data were entered into NetWISP version 3.0 (Tinuviel Software, Llanfechell, Anglesey, UK) and statistical analysis was carried out in SPSS version 15.0 (SPSS Inc.). Results showed that mean daily intake of certain micronutrients were insufficient and did not meet the recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for pregnancy. Mean dietary intake of folate was 271.3 μg (SD 111.4), vitamin D was 2.7 μg (SD 2.1), calcium was 877.8 mg (SD 315.8), and iron was 11.1 mg (SD 3.7). Alarmingly, only 2 (0.8%) women met vitamin D recommendations, while only 8 (3.1%) women met folate recommendations. Sodium intakes were above recommended levels for the general population. These data highlight the urgent need for better public health interventions among pregnant women and consideration to fortify foods with folic acid in Ireland.
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