Lindsay K.L., Gibney E.R. & McAuliffe F.M. (2012) Maternal nutrition among women from Sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on Nigeria, and potential implications for pregnancy outcomes among immigrant populations in developed countries. J Hum Nutr Diet.
Pregnant women in countries of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are at risk of poor nutritional status and adverse outcomes as a result of poverty, food insecurity, sub-optimal healthcare facilities, frequent infections and frequent pregnancies. Studies from Nigeria, for example, have revealed a high prevalence of both under- and over-nutrition, as well as nutrient deficiencies, including iron, folate, vitamin D and vitamin A. Subsequently, obstetric complications, including hypertension, anaemia, neural tube defects, night-blindness, low birth weight and maternal and perinatal mortality, are common. Migration patterns from SSA to the Western world are on the rise in recent years, with Nigerians now representing the most prevalent immigrant African population in many developed countries. However, the effect of immigration, if any, on the nutritional status and pregnancy outcomes of these women in their host countries has not yet been studied. Consequently, it is unknown to what extent the nutritional deficiencies and pregnancy complications occurring in Nigeria, and other countries of SSA, present in these women post-emigration. This may result in missed opportunities for appropriate antenatal care of a potential high-risk group in pregnancy. The present review discusses the literature regarding nutrition in pregnancy among SSA women, using Nigeria as an example, the common nutrition-related complications that arise and the subsequent obstetric outcomes. The concept of dietary acculturation among immigrant groups is also discussed and deficiencies in the literature regarding studies on the diets of pregnant immigrant women are highlighted.