Nutrition and Health Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Journal of the American Dietetic Association 102:7 (July 2002), pp. 984–987; doi: 10.1016/S0002-8223(02)90225-7


Copyright © 2002 American Dietetic Association. Published by Elsevier Science U.S.A. Used by permission.


Low birthweight (LBW), defined as an infant weighing less than 2,500 grams (1), is a major determinant of infant mortality and contributes to infant and childhood morbidity and increased healthcare costs (2-4). LBW occurs due to preterm delivery (length of gestation less than 37 weeks), growth retardation, or both (2). In the United States, higher rates of LBW occur in urban areas with high concentrations of low-income ethnic minorities (5). Results of the 1997 Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance indicate that the rate of LBW in the United States was 13% for African-American infants, and 8% for whites (6). Healthy People 2010 (7) outlines an overarching goal to eliminate health disparities among different segments of the population, including differences that occur by race or ethnicity

Reviews of the medical nutrition therapy literature indicate a continuing need to document the specific contribution of the registered dietitian to health outcomes attained (8). In the specific area of prenatal nutrition interventions, Boyd and Windsor (9) concluded there is a need for high-quality prenatal nutrition education programs, including descriptions of program process and content. Published reports of nutrition interventions suggest that programs are more likely to be successful if they are adapted to the particular minority target culture (10) and if they are individualized to the specific client’s needs (11). A continuing need exists for well-documented and effective prenatal nutrition interventions designed to reduce the incidence of LBW among minority populations. The objective of this project was to evaluate an in-home prenatal nutrition intervention designed to prevent LBW among low-income African-American women.