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Pitt research finds women have poor diets before pregnancy

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Key prenatal nutrients are iron, folate (a B vitamin) and calcium. Iron helps to form hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood. Folate is needed to develop the neural tube, from which the brain and spinal cord form. Calcium builds bones and helps maintain healthy blood pressure.
In the women’s diets, the study found primary sources of iron were instant cereals (14.1 percent for the group overall); yeast bread, non-100 percent whole wheat (6.4 percent); pasta dishes (5.4); grain desserts (4.2) and pizza (4.1). Green salad was the only vegetable in the top 10 of the iron category overall (3.9 percent) and higher among white (13.9 percent) and college- and graduate-degree women (14.6 and 16.1). Iron from cereals was higher among women who were black (14.5 percent), Hispanic (13.7), with high school education or less (16.2) and some college (13.2).
Green salad and ready-to-eat cereals were the top two sources for folate for all the groups except black women, where the top two were cereals and orange or grapefruit juice. Reduced-fat milk and cheese were the top two foods serving as calcium sources.

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