BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
All human beings need a balanced amount of nutrients for proper functioning of the body system. Nutrition is a fundamental pillar of human life, health and development throughout the entire life span (World Bank, 2006). Proper food and good nutrition are essential for survival, physical growth, mental development, performance and productivity, health and wellbeing. However, the nutrition requirement varies with respect to age, gender and during physiological changes such as pregnancy. Pregnancy is such a critical phase in a woman’s life, when the expecting mother needs optimal nutrients of superior qualities to support the developing fetus. Naturally, the urge to eat more is experienced by nearly all pregnant women.
Pregnancy is considered to be a delightful experience for the expectant mother. Evidences manifested that adequate intake of nutrition is a key component for individual’s health and well-being, particularly during pregnancy. It is well documented that inadequate maternal nutrition results in increased risks of short term consequences such as; Intra Uterine Growth Restriction(IUGR), low birth weight, preterm birth, prenatal and infant mortality and morbidity. Moreover, excessive intake of nutrients during pregnancy can lead to some pregnancy complications (such as, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, macrosomia, distocia and higher prevalence of cesarean section). On the other hand, as the long run outcomes, inadequate intake of nutrients were found to have pathophysiologic or metabolic depict that will appear as disorders of child growth and development as well as adult chronic disease after a long period of quiescence. (Rocco PL, Orbitello B, Perini L, Pera V, Ciano RP,2005)
According to Nagiebs (2003) opined that eating well during pregnancy means do more than simply increase how much the mother eats. The mother must also consider what she eats. The ability of mother to provide nutrients and oxygen for her baby is a critical factor for fetal health and its survival. Failure in supplying the adequate amount of nutrients to meet fetal demand can lead to fetal malnutrition. The fetus responds and adapts to under nutrition but by doing so it permanently alters the structure and function of the body. Maternal over nutrition also has long-lasting and detrimental effects on the health of the offspring.
Naomi M (2010) Malnutrition is one of the most serious health problems affecting children and their mothers in Ethiopia. Undernourished mothers face greater risks during pregnancy and childbirth, and their children set off on a weaker developmental path, both physically and mentally. Undernourished children have lower resistance to infection and are more likely to die from common childhood ailments as diarrheal diseases and respiratory infections. Those who survive may be locked into a vicious cycle of recurring sickness and faltering growth, often with irreversible damage to their cognitive and social development. Malnutrition prevents individuals and even the whole country from achieving full potential, and is closely related with survival, poverty and development. The incidence of dietary inadequacies as a result of dietary habits and patterns in pregnancy is higher during pregnancy than at any other stage of the life cycle. It was shown that, nutrition knowledge was predictive of change in dietary habits and health advices encouraged expectant women to advance their food intake positively.
Several studies including Villar has indicated that the correlation between poor maternal nutritional status and adverse birth outcomes is complex and are influenced by many biologic, socioeconomic, and demographic factors, which vary widely in different populations. It is therefore, the promotion of women’s health and other preventive health care practice should start before birth, during intrauterine life and extends throughout different phases of their lives in order to sustain their reproductive health in general. The importance of maternal nutrition during pregnancy has long been recognized. The National Academy of Science in America issued a report that reviewed studies of reproductive experience concluded that adequate prenatal nutrition was one of the most important environmental factors affecting the health of pregnant women and their babies. (Villar J, Merialdi M, Abalos E, Carroli G, et al., 2003)
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AWARENESS OF GOOD NUTRITION DURING PREGNANCY AMONG WOMEN OF CHILD BEARING AGE