Nutritionally speaking, the cause for many low birth weight babies stems from the consumption of nutritionally poor food items during pregnancy, and can be further complicated if the mother is underweight (Gebremedhin, Ambaw, Admassu, & Berhane, 2015). The environment of the mother, particularly a teenage mother can affect the food items consumed. If a mother is in a low income setting, she is not as likely to have access to nutritionally rich food items (Elbel, Moran, Dixon, Kiszko, & Cantor et al., 2015). The diet of the individual suffers in high need, low income areas due to the lower costs associated with unhealthy, or nutritionally poor food products (Elbel et al., 2015). While the diet and situation of the teenage mother may play a role in the doctor’s recommendation for prenatal vitamins for a pregnant teenager, researchers have found that most teenage mothers are nutritionally deficient and prenatal supplements cannot effectively combat those deficiencies (Lee, Young, Cooper, Pressman, Queenan & Olson et al., 2014; Mayo Clinic, 2017).
In order to ensure that a teen mother is healthy and that their child has a healthy start in life, it is recommended that teenagers eat a healthy diet of fresh, lean meat, fruit and fruit juice, breads, vegetables, eggs, and milk and should stay away from foods that are high in sugar and high in salt (Burchett & Seeley, 2003). In spite of these recommendations, there is concern in recent years regarding the ability of health care providers to appropriately provide nutritional advice during pregnancy (Lucas, Charlton, & Yeatman, 2014). Barriers to the health practitioner provision of nutritional information to pregnant women include a lack of resources, a lack of appropriate training in proper diet, and a lack of time spent with the patients to effectively understand their diet, nutritional requirements, and their consumption needs (Lucas, Charlton, & Yeatman, 2014). Premature birth and low birth weight have been shown to have a correlation to the inadequate nutrition of the teen mother, suggesting that particular care and attention should be given to ensuring that these individuals, and their children by proxy, are healthy (Gebremedhin, et al., 2015).
- Burchett, H., & Seeley, A. (2003). Good enough to eat? (pp. 1-40). The Food Commission. Retrieved from http://www.foodcomm.org.uk/pdfs/Too_good_to_eat.PDF
- Elbel, B., Moran, A., Dixon, L., Kiszko, K., Cantor, J., Abrams, C., & Mijanovich, T. (2015). Assessment of a government-subsidized supermarket in a high-need area on household food availability and children’s dietary intakes. Public Health Nutrition, 18(15), 2881-2890. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/s1368980015000282
- Gebremedhin, M., Ambaw, F., Admassu, E., & Berhane, H. (2015). Maternal associated factors of low birth weight: a hospital based cross-sectional mixed study in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 15(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12884-015-0658-1
- Lee, S., Young, B., Cooper, E., Pressman, E., Queenan, R., & Olson, C. et al. (2014). Nutrient inadequacy Is prevalent in pregnant adolescents, and prenatal supplement use may not fully compensate for dietary deficiencies. ICAN: Infant, Child, & Adolescent Nutrition, 6(3), 152-159. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1941406414525993
- Lucas, C., Charlton, K., & Yeatman, H. (2014). Nutrition advice during pregnancy: Do women receive it and can health professionals provide it?. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 18(10), 2465-2478. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10995-014-1485-0
- Mayo Clinic. (2017). Teenage pregnancy: Helping your teen cope. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/teen-pregnancy/art-20048124?pg=2