The commonly held belief that the birth weight of a human infant is determined solely by genetic and racial differences was challenged by a World Health Organization (WHO) technical report that showed that birth weight varied within a number of ethnic groups in relation to the socioeconomic status of the mother.1 Later studies showed that the nutritional status of pregnant women as reflected by base line body weight and weight gain during pregnancy had a positive correlation with fetal growth.2-5
Our studies in Chiang Mai, Thailand, were designed to assess the nutritional pattern of pregnant women. In comparison with the diet of women in the industrialized societies, the Thai diet is generally low in total calories, protein, calcium, and iron (Table). These deficiencies are similar to those reported from other developing countries, for example, India.
Examining specific nutrients, we noted that intake of vitamins A, B2, niacin, and