British Journal of Nutrition

Papers of direct relevance to Clinical and Human Nutrition

The Bacon Chow study: effect of nutritional supplementation on maternal weight and skinfold thicknesses during pregnancy and lactation

Linda S. Adaira1, Ernesto Pollitta2 and William H. Muellera2

a1 Department of Anthropology, Rice University, Houston, Texas 77251, USA

a2 The University of Texas, School of Public Health, Houston, Texas 77025, USA


1. Effects of a feeding programme on maternal weight, triceps and subscapular skinfolds during pregnancy and lactation were assessed in a marginally undernourished population of rural Taiwan. Mothers participated during two pregnancy and lactation periods. At 3 weeks after the delivery of the first infant, one group of 114 mothers began consuming a nutrient-dense supplement (A), while another group of 111 received a placebo (B).

2. There was no significant A–B difference in pregnancy weight gain (A 7.52 kg, B 7.75 kg) or in mean maternal weight, triceps or subscapular skinfolds at any time during pregnancy or lactation. Despite a general trend toward moderate weight loss during lactation, one-third of mothers in both groups gained weight. Highly significant increases in weight and skinfold thicknesses from one lactation period to the next characterized both groups.

3. The absence of demonstrable supplement-effects on maternal anthropometry concomitant with increments in infant birth weight supports the notion that infants can benefit from maternal supplementation without changes in maternal nutritional status.

(Received November 30 1982)

(Accepted November 15 1983)