Background: Nutritional status of expectant women is an important indicator of healthy pregnancy and an ideal birth weight of the infant. The present study is an attempt to understand food eating practices and related taboos among the Paite women and whether or how these practices influence weight gain among infants during their first year of life.
Methods: The longitudinal study was conducted for a period of 16 months between November 2010 and February 2012) among 186 Paite mother-infant pairs. Women who had completed 37 to 42 weeks of pregnancy were included. Infant’s weights were measured using standard technique and information on mothers’ food related practices was recorded during the house visit using a structured schedule. Standard statistical methods were used for description and analysis.
Results: A peculiar practice, ‘pica’ was observed among a few women. A number of food taboos were found to be followed by the ‘Paite’ women during course of their pregnancy.
Conclusion: No significant difference was noticed in the mean weight of babies from birth through the age of 1 year between mothers practicing and not practicing food taboos. However, it was found that the mean weight of the babies throughout the study period was comparatively higher among non-taboo mothers. It could be suggested that women must be counseled during their antenatal and postnatal visits to the maternity clinics and hospitals about dietary practices and their anticipated impact on health of the newborns.