• Article

Dietary risk factors for pre-eclampsia among women attending Harare Maternity Hospital, Zimbabwe

OBJECTIVE: To identify specific foods that predispose Zimbabwean women to a higher or lower risk of pre-eclampsia and/or eclampsia. DESIGN: A case control study was implemented. Participants were asked by questionnaire to recall the specific amounts of meats, poultry, fruits, fish, vegetables and dairy products they had consumed in the month prior to giving birth. SETTING: Harare Maternity Hospital, Harare, Zimbabwe between June of 1995 and April of 1996. SUBJECTS: 180 women clinically diagnosed with pre-eclampsia (144) or eclampsia (36), and 194 normotensive women without these conditions. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Pre-eclampsia/eclampsia. RESULTS: There were few associations between consumption of specific food items and the occurrence of pre-eclampsia/eclampsia. Meat and fruit were the only foods found to be significantly associated with pre-eclampsia. Women who consumed 12 or more servings of meat per month were more likely to have pre-eclampsia/eclampsia when compared to women eating 11 servings of meat or less per month. While intake of bananas and mangos was unrelated to risk, women who consumed other fruits (i.e. apples, oranges, grapes, peaches, apricots, paw paw, and plums), were 1.7 (95% CI = 1.0 to 3.1) times more likely to develop pre-eclampsia/eclampsia as women who ate none of these fruits. However, women who consumed relatively large quantities of these fruits were not at a particularly high risk. Increased consumption of kapenta was modestly associated with a decrease in disease risk, but this finding was well within the limits of chance and no association was present with intake of other types of fish. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that variation in consumption of specific foods do not have a strong effect on the incidence of pre-eclampsia in this population. However, further research involving the use of a more comprehensive dietary measure, biochemical measurements of nutrients, pre-pregnancy assessment and ascertainment of dietary intake prior to the development of pre-eclampsia are needed


Atkinson, JO., Mahomed, K., Williams, MA., Woelk, G., Mudzamiri, S., & Weiss, NS. (1998). Dietary risk factors for pre-eclampsia among women attending Harare Maternity Hospital, Zimbabwe. Central African Journal of Medicine, 44(4), 86-92.