Effect of nutrition counseling on maternal nutritional performance, birth outcome and choice of infant feeding in pregnant teenagers

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Virginia Tech

This study investigated the influence of nutrition education services, measured by duration of participation and frequency of nutrition counseling, on maternal nutritional performance, and pregnancy outcome, in 100 pregnant teenagers enrolled in the WIC program in North Carolina. Data on prenatal weight gain, rate of weekly weight gain, gestational duration and birth weight of infants born to these teenagers was retrieved from medical records. Twenty-four hour recalls, conducted before and after counseling, were analyzed. for energy and nutrient content. Results indicated that initiation of prenatal care by trimester was earlier, and duration of participation was longer, than was reported in the literature. Mean weight gain and gestational lengths were found to be comparable to results from studies on similar populations. Rate of weekly gain was significantly higher than that recommended for adult pregnant women. Energy, protein and iron intakes showed significant improvement after counseling, and, were comparable to RDA values. However, calcium intake was found to be significantly lower than the RDA. Mean infant birth weight was found to be 47.2 gm heavier than the state average; this was not statistically significant. Although a strong correlation. between counseling and. pregnancy outcome was not evident, the incidence of low birth weight was substantially lower in this population, especially among the subgroup of black infants. A decreased incidence of poor outcome of pregnancy among underweight gravidas, was also indicative of the influence of nutrition education on this high risk group. Nutrition intervention appears to have been indirectly influential in optimizing fetal outcome through improved maternal weight gain, and an extended gestation. In addition, early and appropriate prenatal care measures, probably helped reduce the race specific, risk differential for adverse outcomes. The results from this study also indicated that a very small percentage of teens chose to breast feed. Further studies are, however, recommended to identify predictors of the feeding choice, to help increase incidence of breast feeding among teens.