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Frequency of Eating during Pregnancy and Its Effect on Preterm Delivery


Siega-Riz, Anna Maria; Herrmann, Tracy S.; Savitz, David A.; & Thorp, John M., Jr. (2001). Frequency of Eating during Pregnancy and Its Effect on Preterm Delivery. American Journal of Epidemiology, 153(7), 647-652.


Frequency of eating or meal patterns during pregnancy may be a component of maternal nutrition relevant to pregnancy outcome. To identify meal patterns of pregnant women and investigate the relation between these meal patterns and preterm delivery, the authors performed an analysis using data from the Pregnancy, Infection, and Nutrition Study (n = 2,065). Women recruited from August 1995 to December 1998 were categorized by meal patterns on the basis of their reported number of meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and snacks consumed per day during the second trimester. An optimal pattern was defined according to the Institute of Medicine recommendation of three meals and two or more snacks per day. In this population, 72 percent of the women met this recommendation, and 235 delivered preterm. Women who consumed meals/snacks less frequently were slightly heavier prior to pregnancy, were older, and had a lower total energy intake. In addition, these women had a higher risk of delivering preterm (adjusted odds ratio = 1.30, 95 percent confidence interval: 0.96, 1.76). There was no meaningful difference in the risk by early versus late preterm delivery, but those who delivered after premature rupture of the membranes (adjusted odds ratio = 1.87, 95 percent confidence interval: 1.02, 3.43) had a higher risk than those who delivered after preterm labor (adjusted odds ratio = 1.11, 95 percent confidence interval: 0.64, 1.89). This study supports previous animal model work of an association between decreased frequency of eating and preterm delivery.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Journal of Epidemiology


Siega-Riz, Anna Maria
Herrmann, Tracy S.
Savitz, David A.
Thorp, John M., Jr.