Ultra-processed food (UPF) intake in pregnancy and maternal and neonatal outcomes

Sivan Ben-Avraham, Elkana Kohn, Sigal Tepper, Ronit Lubetzky, Dror Mandel, Matitiahu Berkovitch, Danit R. Shahar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Ultra-processed food (UPF), as defined by the NOVA classification, is related to lower diet quality, which may adversely affect maternal health and neonatal outcomes. This study aims to describe nutrient intake of pregnant women by the share of UPF in the diet and to identify associations between UPF intake and maternal and neonatal outcomes. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, pregnant women (n = 206) were recruited upon arrival to the obstetrics ward for delivery, and asked to complete a Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ), and questionnaires regarding environmental exposures, and socio-demographic characteristics. Neonatal measurements and clinical data were obtained following delivery. UPF energy intake was expressed as absolute and in terms of percent from total energy. Women with high intake of energy from UPF were compared to those with low intake. Results: Among 206 pregnant women, dietary intake of UPF ranged from 15.6% to 43.4% of total energy in the first and fourth quartiles of UPF consumption, respectively. Women in the fourth quartile of energy from UPF had lower intakes of vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin B6, and potassium, which is indicative of inferior diet quality. Percent energy from UPF was associated with maternal obesity (BMI ≥ 30) (OR = 1.06, 95% CI: 1.06, 1.10, p = 0.008) and shorter male infant ano-genital distance (AGD) (B = −1.9, 95% CI: −3.5, −0.24, p = 0.02). Conclusions: UPF intake during pregnancy is associated with undesirable maternal and neonatal outcomes and more research is needed to confirm these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1403-1413
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2023


  • Diet quality
  • Neonatal outcomes
  • Pregnancy outcomes
  • Prenatal diet
  • Ultra-processed food

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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