Nutritional deficiency in pregnancy: tips for mothers-to-be

AmNews Staff | 12/7/2017, 3:45 p.m.

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is a fat better known as omega-3 fatty acid that supports development of the baby’s brain. The best way to get it is by eating more fish, 8 to 12 ounces a week of low-mercury fish, such as salmon, herring, trout, anchovies and halibut. Orange juice, milk and eggs that have added DHA will be identified on the label.

Iodine is needed for the production of thyroid hormones, which increases by approximately 50 percent during pregnancy. Iodine also helps the baby’s brain and nervous system develop. Deficiency increases the risk of premature delivery and stillbirth. Good sources include fish, milk, cheese, yogurt, fortified cereal and bread and iodized salt.

Zinc is important throughout pregnancy to help the baby’s cells grow and replicate. In the early stages of pregnancy, inadequate zinc increases the risk of miscarriage. It can be found in lamb, beef, crabmeat, fortified cereals, nuts and beans.

Gaither concluded, “In general, a pregnant woman will need to consume an extra 300 calories a day chosen from fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and dairy products. What she eats is her baby’s source of nourishment, and by choosing wisely she can give her child the best opportunity for a healthy start in life.”

Kecia Gaither, M.D., MPH, FACOG, a perinatal consultant and women’s health expert, is a double board-certified physician in OB/GYN and Maternal-Fetal Medicine in New York City. Dr. Gaither is director of Perinatal Services at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, a member of NYC Health + Hospitals System in Bronx, New York.