The need for dietary supplementation during pregnancy varies based on region, eating habits and socioeconomic conditions, and is an important factor to be aware of when considering foetal development and health. A new study from Turkey finds that health professionals need to provide more and better advice to expectant mothers when it comes to keeping their vitamin and mineral levels in balance.
By Buse Güler, Dilek Bilgiç, Hülya Okumus, Hande Yagcan and Murat Alan
A healthy and balanced diet during pregnancy impacts both mother and baby, and a healthy start will continue to contribute to the baby’s health throughout his or her life. In cases where an adequate and balanced diet cannot be achieved during pregnancy, supplementation may reduce the risk of various health problems, such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar and foetal growth deficiencies.
A recent study published in the Journal of Perinatal Medicine assessed dietary supplementation during pregnancy in 697 women in Turkey. The researchers found that ferritin, vitamins B12 and D, calcium, folic acid, iron and iodine levels were not routinely examined by physicians. Furthermore, the rate of vitamin and mineral supplementation in pregnant women was found to be between 18-58%, which is lower than the global average, with folic acid and iron being the most commonly suggested.
The researchers also examined similarities and differences in recommendations provided by global health organizations, and consider practical implications for one hospital in Turkey.
Since routine health check-ups during pregnancy can affect the consumption of dietary supplements, it is important that health professionals provide information on this topic to pregnant women. However, the researchers claim that many physicians and nurses experience uncertainty regarding the most appropriate approach to take when providing advice about diet and weight gain to pregnant women. In addition, differences in recommendations across health organizations, as well as a lack of time for physicians to consult patients, influence the practices of health professionals.
“Vitamin and mineral supplementation is vital for healthy mothers, babies and communities, so healthcare professionals need to give appropriate advice to pregnant women”, the researchers stress.
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