Limited information is available on protein intake and adequacy of intake among pregnant women in the United States (U.S.). Protein intake by women of childbearing age in the U.S. is generally assumed to be adequate, though requirements for protein increase during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy and limited data suggest that some women may fail to meet recommended intakes during this critical time. The purpose of this study was to assess protein intake and adequacy of intake among pregnant women in the U.S. Using data from a nationally representative sample of 528 pregnant women, mean usual intake of protein was estimated by trimester of pregnancy. Findings from this study indicate that approximately one in eight women in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy have protein intakes below the recommended levels. Results from the study also show that percent protein intake from animal sources was positively associated with likelihood of meeting trimester-specific protein recommendations. Guidance for pregnant women should include advice to consume adequate levels of protein from a variety of protein sources, including animal proteins for women following a Healthy U.S.-Style Dietary Pattern. Consumption of animal proteins, including lean meats, can help women meet protein requirements during pregnancy.

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Key Findings:

  • Approximately one in eight women in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy in the U.S. have protein intakes below the recommended levels.
  • Percent protein intake from animal sources was positively associated with likelihood of women meeting trimester-specific protein recommendations.
  • Guidance for pregnant women should include advice to consume adequate levels of protein from a variety of protein sources, including animal proteins for women following a Healthy U.S.-Style Dietary Pattern.