UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Socioeconomic Inequalities Impact the Ability of Pregnant Women and Women of Childbearing Age to Consume Nutrients Needed for Neurodevelopment : An Analysis of NHANES 2007–2018 Murphy, Rachel Anne; Marshall, Keri; Zagorin, Sandra; Devarshi, Prasad P.; Hazels Mitmesser, Susan


Adequate consumption of nutrients that support infant neurodevelopment is critical among pregnant women and women of childbearing age. Understanding the potential effects of socioeconomic inequalities on nutrient gaps in these life stages is thus important for informing strategies to mitigate negative health consequences. Usual intake (foods and dietary supplements) of neurodevelopment-related nutrients was determined from 24 h recalls among women of childbearing age and pregnant women (20–44 years) using data from 2007–2018 NHANES. Usual intake was compared across household food security, poverty-to-income ratio (PIR), and household participation in federal food and nutrition assistance programs. Intake of EPA + DHA was universally low with >95% of all women (pregnant and non-pregnant) below the DGA recommendation from foods alone. Women in households that participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program had a significantly lower intake of multiple nutrients relative to those who did not participate. For example, 50% had intakes below the estimated average requirement (EAR) for vitamin A (versus 32%), 42% were below the EAR for calcium (versus 33%) and 65% were below the EAR for magnesium (versus 42%). Similar gradients were observed by PIR and household food security, and among pregnant women whereby gaps were more evident in those experiencing socioeconomic inequalities. The use of dietary supplements attenuated shortfalls for most nutrients. These findings highlight a critical need to support the nutritional requirements for women of childbearing age and pregnant women.

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