Objectives: To study the relationship between food taboos/eating habits and weight gain during pregnancy and fetal outcome.
Design: A retrospective descriptive study.
Place and Duration of Study: It was conducted at Maternity Child Health Centre, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences Islamabad, during October 2001-October 2002.
Subjects and Methods: Relevant information regarding mothers and their babies were filled in the pre-tested questionnaire. Out of 175 registered cases, 150 were selected for analysis. 25 cases were excluded from the study as they were suffering from cardiac and other illness. The food taboos were inferred from eating habits of the subjects. Weight gain during the three trimesters of the pregnancy, were recorded and the net weight gain was calculated. The subject falling below 8.0kg were labeled as group-1 (below normal). The subjects having average weight gain i.e. 8.0/12.0kg were labeled as group-II (normal). The subjects having weight gain above 12.0kg were labeled as group-III (above normal). This grouping was made on the basis of definition of normal weight gain during pregnancy, according to manual of obstetrics (1998). The weight of the newborns was recorded at the time of birth. The prevalence of
anemia in expectant mothers was also recorded. The socioeconomic status was based on occupational status of husband, and the educational level of the women was recorded.
Results: 81.3% of subjects were significantly having influence of food taboos. 15.2% of women were suffering from
anemia and 18.6% babies of low birth weight (LBW) were born to mothers included in this study, however there was no direct relationship of LBW babies to
anemic mothers.49.3% of women were at low socioeconomic status.
19.3% were illiterate. While 80.7% were educated between primary to postgraduate level.
Conclusion: Food taboos influence eating habits of expectant mothers. Even though the mothers who had balance intake from all food groups yet there is prevalence of low Birth Weight babies and
anemia even among the mothers who gained normal weight during pregnancy. The cause of this may be the qualitative imbalance of micro- nutrients or existence of non-nutritional causes contributing towards poor maternal and fetal outcome.