Food and nutrient intake and adherence to dietary recommendations during pregnancy: a Nordic mother–child population-based cohort

  • Carina Madelen Saunders
  • Eva Maria Rehbinder
  • Karin C. Lødrup Carlsen
  • Malén Gudbrandsgard
  • Kai-Håkon Carlsen
  • Guttorm Haugen
  • Gunilla Hedlin
  • Christine Monceyron Jonassen
  • Katrine Dønvold Sjøborg
  • Linn Landrø
  • Björn Nordlund
  • Knut Rudi
  • Håvard O. Skjerven
  • Cilla Söderhäll
  • Anne Cathrine Staff
  • Riyas Vettukattil
  • Monica Hauger Carlsen
Keywords: Nutrients, dietary intake, nordic diet, fetal programming, food intake, nutritional recommendations


Background: A woman’s food intake during pregnancy has important implications not only for herself but also for the future health and well-being of her child. Suboptimal dietary quality has been consistently reported in many high-income countries, reflecting poor adherence to dietary guidelines.

Objective: This study aimed to explore the intake of food and nutrients in a cohort of pregnant women in Norway and their adherence to Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR) and Norwegian food-based guidelines (NFG).

Design: We investigated the dietary intake in 1,674 pregnant women from the mother–child birth cohort, PreventADALL, recruited at approximately 18-week gestational age. Dietary intake was assessed by an electronic validated food frequency questionnaire (PrevFFQ) in the first half of pregnancy.

Results: Total fat intake was within the recommended intake (RI) range in most women; however, the contribution of saturated fatty acids to the total energy intake was above RI in the majority (85.2%) of women. Carbohydrate intake was below RI in 43.9% of the women, and 69.5% exceeded the RI of salt. Intakes of fiber, vegetables, and fish were high in a large part of the population. Many women had a high probability of inadequate intakes of the following key micronutrients during pregnancy: folate (54.4%), iron (49.6%), calcium (36.2%), vitamin D (28.7%), iodine (24.4%), and selenium (41.3%). A total of 22.8% women reported an alcohol intake of >1 g/day, and 4.4% reported an alcohol intake of >10 g/day. Women with higher educational levels showed a tendency towards healthier eating habits, except for higher intakes of alcohol and coffee, compared to women with lower educational level.

Discussion: Excessive saturated fat intake and limited intake of many important micronutrients during pregnancy were common, potentially increasing the risk for adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes.

Conclusions: This study highlights the need for improved nutritional guidance to pregnant women across all educational levels.


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How to Cite
Saunders C. M., Rehbinder E. M., Lødrup Carlsen K. C., Gudbrandsgard M., Carlsen K.-H., Haugen G., Hedlin G., Monceyron Jonassen C., Dønvold Sjøborg K., Landrø L., Nordlund B., Rudi K., Skjerven H. O., Söderhäll C., Staff A. C., Vettukattil R., & Hauger Carlsen M. (2019). Food and nutrient intake and adherence to dietary recommendations during pregnancy: a Nordic mother–child population-based cohort. Food & Nutrition Research, 63.
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