Background and aim Nutritional status of the mother in the periconceptional and gestational period can influence the course of pregnancy and newborn health. The aim of our study was to identify and assess the prevalence of disordered eating attitudes in mothers of newborns requiring neonatal intensive care admission compared to those of mothers who delivered healthy infants requiring only normal care in a large maternity hospital.
Methods An anonymous self-report study was conducted among 199 mothers of newborns hospitalised in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and a control group of 127 mothers of healthy newborns who “roomed in” with their mothers. An EAT-26 (Eating Attitudes Test-26) questionnaire and a survey regarding the pregnancy, neonatal outcomes and other health related behaviours were used in the study.
Results Women with EAT-26 scores >20 smoked significantly more often during their last pregnancy in the study group (p = 0,010). There were fewer women with appropriate pre-gestational BMI in the study group (p = 0.052) and they gained less weight during pregnancy (p = 0.001). Women who feared weight gain during pregnancy were younger (p < 0.001) and had higher EAT-26 scores (p < 0.001). Caesarean section was more frequent in the study group (p = 0.017).
Conclusions Perinatal public health education must focus on issues related to eating disorders since the awareness of these issues among obstetricians may improve the outcomes of pregnancy and newborns’ health.