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Impact of nutritional deficiencies in pregnancy - On the foetus

December 3, 2020

Pregnancy is a stage when good nutrition is exceptionally important. Since the dietary requirements of almost all the minerals & vitamins increase they mostly have to be met through dietary intake and/or through supplements to avoid, avert insufficiencies, deficiencies and their impact of the growing foetus.

To avoid health implications linked with maternal under-nutrition consuming healthy food focussing on balanced nutrients is considered crucial for the overall development of the foetus.

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Micronutrient deficiency is a condition which occurs when a pregnant woman consumes enough food overall but does not consume enough of the specific micronutrients she needs to maintain the growth and pregnancy function/support systems.

Consequences of certain baby friendly nutritional deficiencies :


IRON- Anaemia


  • Weakness/tiredness
  • Decreased work performance
  • Falling sick often
  • Inflamed tongue

Dark Green leafy vegetables, Red meat, Whole pulses, tofu/paneer, Egg white, Dried figs, Dates, Raisins One citrus fruit /day is required to enhance absorption, utilization of iron

  • Caffeine, tannin
  • Calcium foods with iron intake
  • Low APGAR score
  • Low birth weight babies
  • Preterm labour
  • Reduced foetal iron store.



  • Numbness and tingling in the fingers
  • Muscle cramps
  • Convulsion
  • Lethargy & poor appetite
  • Abnormal heart rhythms

Milk & Milk products, Cabbage family, Leafy vegetables, Ragi, Oilseeds like sesame seeds sun exposure will help the production of Vit-D to increase calcium absorption

  • Iron-based food/supplement along with calcium
  • Decreased foetal bone mineralization.
  • Elevated triglycerides levels
  • Impaired Cardiovascular function
  • Increased body fat percentage.


3300-5000 IU

  • Poor resistance to infections
  • Bitot spots

Liver, fish oils, milk, egg yolk, leafy vegetables, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables Include fat to aid the absorption of vitamin A (a fat-soluble vitamin)

  • Excess vitamin A in the form of supplements as the body can store it,  therefore hypertoxicity
  • Inadequate placental size
  • Stillbirths
  • Congenital malformations
  • Congenital ocular defects
  • Dry skin


  • Irritability
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Cracks at the corners of the mouth
  • Inflamed tongue
  • Numbness, tingling of the hands and feet

Whole grains, cereals and millets, pulses, nuts and oilseeds, meat fish and poultry Fermentation and germination enhances B complex vitamins Avoid

  • cooking foods in excess water
  • Excess boiling
  • Use of Soda
  • Discarding the vegetable stock

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  • Neural tube defects
  • Enlarged liver and spleen
  • Failure to thrive
  • Neonatal megaloblastic anaemia
  • Neonatal neurological problems.


800 IU

  • Bone pain, muscle
  • Weakness
  • Muscle spasm
  • Fragile & weak bones

Fatty fish, egg yolk, Shitake mushrooms, Milk products & sun exposure to the sun for 15–30 minutes Avoid

  • self- prescription of vitamin D supplements.
  • Increased risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia
  • Having infants small for their gestational age
  • Growth retardation and skeletal deformities.

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  • Dry skin.
  • Splitting hair
  • Swelling and discolouration of gums.
  • Sudden bleeding from gum
  • Compromised immunity

Citrus fruits-Orange, Lime, Kiwi, Strawberry, Guava, Amla, Pineapple, Tomatoes, Grapefruit, Green or Red bell peppers. Recommended co-supplementation with iron supplements or food sources

  • Consumption of high fibre foods
  • Caffeine & tannins
  • Increased use of calcium supplements.
  • Poor brain development
  • Stunts foetal memory centre.
  • Affects the storage of foetal iron in the liver.


K 55 mu g

  • Haematuria,
  • Eye haemorrhage
  • Anaemia
  • Gum bleeding
  • Fractures

Cabbage family vegetables, Kale, Spring onions, Spinach, Turnip greens, Egg yolks, Strawberry Include healthy fats for supporting absorption.

  • Avoid if already on anti-epileptic drugs

Birth defects:

  • Under the development of the nose, mouth, mid-face.
  • Shortened fingers, cupped ears, and flat nasal bridge


Must Read: Pregnancy Platter