A systematic review of dietary assessments of pregnant adolescents in industrialised countries

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Adolescent pregnancy is a major public health challenge for many industrialised countries and is associated with significant medical, nutritional, social and economic risk for mothers and their infants. Despite this, relatively little is known about the nutrient intakes of adolescents during pregnancy. The aim of this study is to review the current evidence relating to the dietary assessment of pregnant adolescents living in industrialised countries. Nine papers were identified that fulfilled the inclusion criteria, seven of which were conducted in the USA. Mean nutrient intakes were compared with the most recent US dietary reference intakes (DRI) for pregnant adolescents. Despite the poor quality of the majority of studies, there appeared to be some consensus to suggest that the nutrient intakes of pregnant adolescents were below the DRI for energy, iron, folate, calcium, vitamin E and magnesium, nutrients which are recognised to be vital for fetal growth and development during pregnancy. Modest differences were observed in nutrient intake between trimesters and age groups. Current research is limited by sampling and measurement bias, and research is urgently required to address these limitations. Further consideration should also be made of the influence of age and of role of socio–economic support on pregnant adolescents' nutrient intake. The achievement of improved nutrition in pregnancy among adolescents requires multidisciplinary collaborations of adolescent health care providers, academics, professional organisations, policy makers, industry and service users. Only once this is achieved can adolescent nutrition, and adolescent nutrition in pregnancy, be significantly and sustainably optimised.

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