Why an adequate diet is important before and during pregnancy?

  • Poor nutrition prior to and during pregnancy has been associated with adverse health outcomes such as anaemia, gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes and preterm birth.
  • Malnutrition and a poor diet before and during pregnancy has also been associated with stillbirth, low birthweight, wasting and developmental delays for children.

Data reported by UNICEF and WHO in 2023 showed that one in seven babies worldwide were born with low birthweight. These babies are more likely to die during their first month of life, and those who survive have a higher risk of stunted growth, lower IQ and developing chronic diseases in adulthood.

  • Evidence suggests that following a healthy dietary pattern before and during pregnancy has been associated with lower risk of hypertension, gestational diabetes and preterm birth.
  • During pregnancy, deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals, such as iodine, iron and calcium, have been associated with poor health outcomes, such as miscarriage, stillbirths, congenital defects, low birth weight, infant mortality, impaired cognitive development and cardiometabolic risk in adulthood.