Review Article: Maternal nutrition in Nigeria

  • JIB Adinma
  • OS Umeononihu
  • MN Umeh
Keywords: Maternal, nutrition, Nigeria


Introduction: Nutrition refers to intake of food necessary for optimal growth,  function, and health. A well‑nourished mother is likely to have healthy infants with appropriate birth weight.
Objective: To review nutrition including the dietary habit of the pregnant and  postpartum women in Nigeria.
Materials and Methods: Review involving Internet and literature search.
Results: Undernutrition in women aged 15–49 years decreased from 15% (2003) to 11% (2013), while overnutrition increased from 21% (2003) to 25% (2013). Inadequate intake of calories and micronutrient is a major feature of studies on the dietary pattern of Nigerian pregnant women. Multinutrient malnutrition and  micronutrient deficiencies are a consequence of low content of macronutrients and micronutrients in diet and staple foods in Nigeria. Food restriction/taboos occur in association with  primigravidity; teenage pregnancy; lack of formal education; low household income, signifying low socio-economic status and a low body mass index. Food restrictions/taboos are common with proteins and vegetable. Commonly  consumed vegetable contain adequate mineral and vitamins. Poor food preparation habit e.g blanching of vegetable and parboiling of rice occur. Postpartum mother has poor dietary intake—malnutrition, overweight, and obese body mass index. Caloric intake is high with low intake of protein and fat. There is intake of spices and  peppery food believed to flush out lochia, and consumption of palm wine believed to assist breast flow. Consequences of anemia include—folic acid and iron deficiency, malaria, hookworm infestation, and urinary tract infections.
Conclusion: Dietary habit on nutrition in pregnancy and postpartum women in Nigeria is poor. Recommendation: Recommended measures to improve maternal nutrition in Nigeria include development of dietary guideline for pregnancy and postpartum; health education on nutrition in pregnancy, using information, education and    communication materials; provision of adequate rest and reduction of workload; counselling of pregnant women on intake of diversified food, and provision of  treatment supplement; encouraging exclusive breastfeeding; and micronutrient supplementation/food fortification for postpartum mothers.

Key words: Maternal; nutrition; Nigeria.


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eISSN: 0189-5117