A number of studies showed that there is an intergenerational effect of malnutrition: Women who were malnourished as children are more likely to give birth to malnourished babies, who in turn have the predisposition to become malnourished adults. If the vicious cycle of malnutrition is not broken, it will result to more and severe consequences.
In view of this, it is therefore important to take into consideration good nutrition during pregnancy.
A study undertaken in 1950 to look into the link between nutrition and pregnancy showed that women who ate little during the eight-week period had a higher mortality or disorder rate concerning their offspring than women who are well-fed.
The study also revealed that physical and neurological disorders and handicaps have been linked with poor nutrition. It is reported that 23.8% of babies are estimated to be born with lower than optimal weights at birth due to improper nutrition.
Pregnancy necessitates that an adequate amount of nutrients and energy is consumed as the frequent consumption of nutritious foods helps to prevent nausea, vomiting and cramps.
Health authorities also encourage the pregnant mother to supplement her diet with foods rich in folic acid, such as oranges and dark green leafy vegetables, as these help to prevent neural tube birth defects in the baby. Foods rich in iron, such as lean red meat and beans help to prevent anemia and ensure adequate oxygen for the baby.
It is also recommended that the pregnant mother takes daily prenatal vitamins especially those that contain folic acid, iodine, iron, vitamin D, zinc and calcium to ensure that her body gets the vitamins and minerals it needs to create a healthy baby.
But aside from good nutrition, pregnant women are advised to pay special attention to food hygiene to reduce the risk of exposure to substances that may be harmful to the fetus.This can include food pathogens and toxic food components, alcohol, and dietary supplements such as vitamin A.
Pregnant women should wash their fruits and vegetables and reheat ready-prepared meals thorougly. They should avoid certain foods in which high levels of bacteria have been found to minimize risk of food poisoning.
The World Health Organization has recommended that the pregnant mother should avoid alcohol given its relatively unknown effects of even small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy.
Pregnant women should not drink excessive amounts of alcohol as this has been proven to cause fetal alcohol syndrome.
According to the Wikipedia, alcohol crosses the placental barrier and can stunt fetal growth or weight, create distinctive facial stigmata, damage neurons and brain structures, which can result in psychological or behavioral problems, and cause other physical damage.#