Public Health Nutrition

Research Paper

Maternal cereal consumption and adequacy of micronutrient intake in the periconceptional period

Meredith Snook Parrotta1a2, Lisa M Bodnara1a2a3 c1, Hyagriv N Simhana1a2, Gail Hargera3, Nina Markovica3 and James M Robertsa1a2a3

a1 Magee-Womens Research Institute, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

a2 Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

a3 Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, A742 Crabtree Hall, 130 DeSoto Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA


Objective To assess the adequacy of periconceptional intake of key micronutrients for perinatal health in relation to regular cereal consumption of pregnant women.

Design, setting and subjects Low-income pregnant women (n 596) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, who enrolled in a cohort study at <20 weeks’ gestation. These women reported usual dietary intake in the three months around conception on an FFQ. Cereal consumers were women who reported consuming any dry cereal at least three times per week. High risk for nutrient inadequacy was defined as intake less than the Estimated Average Requirement.

Results About 31 % of the women regularly consumed cereal. After adjusting for energy intake, race/ethnicity, marital status, breakfast consumption and supplement use, cereal eaters had significantly higher intakes of folate, Fe, Zn, Ca, fibre and vitamins A, C, D and E (all P < 0·01) and were approximately two to six times more likely to have intakes in the highest third of the distribution for folate, Fe, Zn, Ca, vitamins A and D, and fibre (all P < 0·01) than cereal non-eaters. Cereal consumption was also associated with reductions of 65–90 % in the risk of nutrient inadequacies compared with non-consumption (all P < 0·01).

Conclusions Encouraging cereal consumption may be a simple, safe and inexpensive nutrition intervention that could optimize periconceptional intake for successful placental and fetal development.

(Received February 22 2008)

(Accepted September 15 2008)


c1 Corresponding author: Email