Nutritional Practices and Taboos Among Pregnant Women Attending Antenatal Care at General Hospital in Kano, Northwest Nigeria

Author(s): Ugwa EA

Background: Food taboos among rural women have been identified as one of the factors contributing to maternal undernutrition in pregnancy. Aim: The aim of this study was to explore some of the taboos and nutritional practices among pregnant women attending antenatal care at a General Hospital in Dawakin Kudu LGA, Kano, Nigeria. Subjects and Methods: This was a cross‑sectional study involving 220 pregnant women. Interviewer‑administered structured questionnaire was used to interview the respondents, which showed various sociodemographic information, cultural nutritional processes, taboos of the community, and a 24 h food recall. The ages, parities, and gestational ages of the women were collated. Descriptive statistics was used. Data were analyzed using SPSS statistical software Version 17.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). Association between sociodemographic factors and nutritional practices and taboos was determined using Chi‑square test and P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Results: At the end of the study, 200 participants (91%) gave complete information. Most of the women, 70% (140/200) were in the 20–39 years age range with mean (standard deviation [SD]) age of 23.7 (6.1) years, mostly uneducated, 70% (140/200), and unemployed, 51% (102/200). Most of the women did a child spacing of 12–24 months, 62% (124/200) with mean (SD) child spacing interval of 26.32 (10.19) months. Gestational age at booking was mostly 13–26 weeks, 48% (96/200) with an average of 26.60 (8.01). Most of the women had 1–4 children, 54.5% (109/200) with mean (SD) of 2.47 (2.50). Most of the women agreed that they had adequate intake of oil, 86% (172/200), meat/fish, 92% (194/200), fruit/vegetables 56% (112/200), and had 3 meals/day 80% (152/200), and did not practice pica 83% (166/200). All of the women, 100% (200/200) believe that women should eat more during pregnancy in order to have healthy babies. They were mostly supported by their husbands, 53% (106/200) and less likely by the community, 34% (17/200). The nutritional practices and taboos of the women showed a statistically significant association with age, parity, and support received from husband and community (P < 0.05). Educational status is not associated with their nutritional practices and taboos. Conclusion: Although sociocultural indices of the respondents were poor, their intake of good nutrition and abstinence from nutrition taboos were satisfactory. Further studies are intended to objectively study the nutritional practices/taboos in pregnancy.

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