Nutritional considerations across the lifespan

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Pre- pregnancy health

  • Vitamin D deficiency in adolescence may have resulted in rickets with pelvic malformations, making a normal delivery impossible.
  • A dietary defieciency of Vitamin B12 may cause infertility.
  • A history of dieting can result in poor nutritional status.
  • Women who have a history of eating disorders often experience irregularities in menstrual cycles and take longer to concieve.

Body weight and weight gain

  • Gestational weight is very important as it is a determinant of birth weight and extremes of weight gain can pose risks during and after pregnancy.
  • One woman's weight gain may be all baby whereas another will put on weight rapidly throughout gestation.
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Consequences of being underweight

  • Increased risk of low birth weight due to intrauterine growth retardation.
  • Low maternal blood glucose will restrict glucose supply to foetus and restrict growth.
  • Increases incidence of mortality in childhood.
  • A low birth weight baby.
  • Reduces chance of conceiving.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Insulin resistance and diabetes.
  • CHD

Consequences of being overweight

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Backache
  • Leg pain
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Consequences of being overweight continued

  • Varicose veins
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Prolonged labour, birth injury and mortality for the baby.
  • Increased risk of an emergency caesarean section
  • Increased risk of post partum diseases for mother
  • Renal disorders for mother and baby
  • Fertility probelms

Teenage pregnancy

  • Attendance at antenatal clinics may be erratic or non- existent which means dietary deficiences are not detected.
  • High rates of smoking and alcohol consumption.
  • Low birth weight
  • Competition for nutrients
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Use of supplements during pregnancy


  • During lactation mothers should take vit D as human milk is low in it.
  • Women planning a pregnancy should take folic acid to prevent NTDs
  • If the mother is a teenager a multivitamin supplement is advised
  • Supplements are useful for those who have poor appetities


  • Supplements are not as useful for the body than nutrients that are taken from food.
  • Foods contain natural beneficial components
  • Possibility of overdosing
  • High levels of vit A are teratogenic.
  • Concentrated protein supplements can reduce birth weight
  • Iron supplements can increase the chance of a premature birth.
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  • Infants have a high BMR
  • The energy requirements for infants are 4 times greater than an adult
  • Protein is needed for growth and repair
  • It is a secondary source of energy
  • Infants need particular amino acids which are provided in protein
  • Carbohydrates supply 40% of their energy
  • It is essential in brain and nervous system
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