Self-selected diets of lactating women often fail to meet dietary recommendations

Amy D. Mackey, Mary Frances Picciano, Diane C. Mitchell, Helen Smiciklas-Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Objective. To assess longitudinally nutrient intakes of lactating women during the postpartum period. Design. Dietary data from lactating women were collected by means of 2-day food records at 3 and 6 months postpartum. Intake of energy and selected nutrients was tabulated and compared with dietary standards. Subjects. The 52 lactating women enrolled in the study lived in a university community, were apparently healthy, had a body mass index within normal range, were successfully nursing a term infant, and planned to nurse for at least 6 months. Statistical analyses performed. Paired t tests and Stuart-Maxwell χ2 analyses. Results. Mean energy intakes were below the Recommended Dietary Allowance. Mean intakes of most nutrients met or exceeded recommended standards except for zinc and vitamins D and E at both 3 and 6 months postpartum. Calcium and folate intakes were also below standards at 6 months. Although mean iron intake exceeded the standard at both measurement times, there was a significant decline from 3 to 6 months. Relative frequencies of mothers meeting various percentages of standards differed significantly from 3 to 6 months for calcium; iron; folate; and vitamins E, D, and B-6. At 6 months, significant increases were noted in the number of women reporting calcium, folate, and vitamin B-6 intake at less than one half of the recommended amounts. Applications/conclusions. Guidance for lactating women should stress food sources of nutrients likely to be limited in their diets: calcium; zinc; folate; and vitamins E, D, and B-6.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-302
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Dietetic Association
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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