Nutrition during the preconception period, as well as throughout a pregnancy, has a major impact on pregnancy outcome. Among prepregnancy considerations, the prepregnancy Body Mass Index (BMI), folic acid status, and socioeconomic status are the most important.

Prepregnancy BMI is an important factor in predicting pregnancy outcome, since both low prepregnancy and high prepregnancy BMI are associated with an increased risk for a negative pregnancy outcome.

Folic acid, a B vitamin, has been shown to prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord known as neural tube defects (NTDs). The most common NTDs are spina bifida and anencephaly. Folic acid is therefore needed


Recommended total weight gain

Weight-for-height category kg lb

Young adolescents and black women should strive for gains at the upper end of the recommended range. Short women (157 cm, or 62 inches) should strive for gains at the lower end of the range. The recommended target weight gain for obese women (BMI >29.0) is at least 6.8 kg (15 lb).

BMI is calculated using metric units. SOURCE: Institute of Medicine.

both in preconception and early pregnancy. Since studies indicate that most women get less than half the recommended amount of folic acid, the March of Dimes recommends women consider a supplement of 400 micrograms of folic acid preconceptually to prevent the incidence of neural tube defects. In addition, it is suggested women capable of becoming pregnant consume a diet high in folic acid. Good sources of folic acid include oranges, green leafy vegetables, and fortified bread and cereals.

There is also a direct correlation between ethnicity, age, marital status, and educational status with increased negative pregnancy outcomes, such as low birth weight.

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