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April 1975

Maternal Nutrition and Fetal Growth in Developing Societies: Socioeconomic Factors

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Human Development, Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama, Guatemala City.

Am J Dis Child. 1975;129(4):434-437. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1975.02120410022009

Developing societies share several common characteristics, including low gross national product per capita, heavy dependency on the export of raw materials, inefficient systems of land tenure, and deficient technology. Malnutrition and infectious disease are highly prevalent, especially during the first five to seven years of life. Such societies moreover are characterized by sharp differences between upper and lower socioeconomic status groups in terms of income and living conditions. Figure 1 summarizes results of several studies comparing height of adult women from high and low socioeconomic groups. Women from low socioeconomic groups in rural and urban populations are shorter; those from the high socioeconomic group resemble the white urban population in the United States. With regard to height or prepregnancy weight, similar facts obtain.

In developing societies, socioeconomic status is also associated with other maternal characteristics. Dietary intake of proteins and calories7-13 and weight gain during pregnancy4,14-17 (L. J.

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