Assessing the diet of women in early pregnancy/egg consumption/choline intake
Chapter 1: Background to the Study
This chapter forms the basis of the research by providing a background to the study with respect to the diet of women during early pregnancy. The chapter also discusses the research aims and objectives as well as the research hypotheses. In addition, the rational for the study is provided together with the overall organization of the dissertation.
Nutrition among pregnant women is a significant public health issue; this is because poor nourishment can result in a number of health issues such as obesity, overweight, cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease (Signore et al. 2008; Cheng et al. 2008; Shaw et al. 2004; Ueland 2010). Malnourishment during pregnancy plays a pivotal role in the causing stillbirths before commencement of labor. Cheng et al. (2008) points out that pregnancy is often typified by supplementary energy requirements of about 300 kcals on a daily basis (1256 Kilojoules), with changes in energy metabolism during pregnancy together with significant variations among women. As a result, health dietary intake during pregnancy is vital to for the health outcomes of both mothers as well as their infants. Cho et al. (2010) emphasizes that the most demanding period during human growth and development takes place in the course of the 9 months of pregnancy. Evaluating the nutrient and food intake during pregnancy is complicated since conception usually sets off a myriad of sequential and complex physiological changes that are likely to have an impact on maternal nutrient metabolism and absorption, meal patterns, appetite and nutrient and energy needs (Allen 2006). Individual behavioral physiological responses with regard to the stress of reproduction usually vary considerably, and that both the amount and type of food intake changes in accordance with the pregnancy period (Meck & Williams 2003). Nausea, which is prevalent in about 50-80% of pregnancies, is likely to commence as early as 4-6 weeks of gestation and peaks during 8-12 weeks, after which it declines. Constipation and heartburns are also known to prompt changes in the eating habits (Bidulescu et al. 2009; Leslie et al. 2010). Cho et al. (2010) reports that women are likely to develop food preferences during pregnancy because of the changes with respect to smell and taste. Another food disorder, Pica, is typified by the urge to eat non-food substances, and usually affects at least 50% of pregnant women in the United Kingdom. Maternal concerns regarding parenting, weight gain and fetal growth and development is likely to increase the maternal awareness regarding nutrition and increase the focus of the healthcare provider towards food habits as well as supplement consumption (Wen et al. 2010).
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