Nearly all pregnant women in China have an unhealthy diet, according to a survey released by experts from China Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Shanghai Friday.
The center's Nutrition and Food Safety Institute studied 1,033 pregnant women in 10 major cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Guangzhou from August 1 to 10 to study their diet and how much they understood about the importance of nutrition for the healthy development of the fetus.
"Most mothers-to-be are only familiar with proteins and vitamins. Many pregnant women do not understand that trace elements are very important for the fetus. Many women continue to eat their traditional diet which emphasizes fatty and rich food," said Dr Xu Qingmei, vice director of the institute.
"Fewer than 60 percent of the women surveyed knew that the development of intelligence starts from the fetus. The rest believed the brain developed after a child was born."
She said 96.7 percent of the respondents said they ate too much or lacked appetite and were not eating diets recommended by their doctors. The average intake of cereals for the surveyed women was only 50 percent of the recommended amount. And they consumed less than 20 percent of the recommended amount of vegetables.
However their diets did have more vegetable oil which doctors recommend.
"Women should take nutritional supplements containing docosahexaenoic acid, and choline, a nutrient in the B vitamin family, between the 18th week of pregnancy and three months after delivery to enhance a child's brain development," Xu said.
(Shanghai Daily September 3, 2007)