Gastrointestinal symptoms and nutritional profile during pregnancy

Carlo Selmi, Maria De Santis, Luigi Laghi, Elena Generali

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Gastrointestinal symptoms are common complaints during pregnancy and are generally of mild intensity.Nausea and vomiting and related repulsion toward foods in the first trimester of pregnancy might represent also an intricate evolutionary protective mechanism, an adaptation to protect the embryo from phytotoxins and other environmental hazards.Indeed, 20–30 % of the adult population in the USA and Europe suffer from adverse reactions to food, and only in one out of ten cases these reactions are caused by IgE-mediated allergic mechanisms; all other forms are broadly considered food antigen hypersensitivity.The percentage of women who experience heartburn symptoms, at any time during pregnancy, range from 30 to 80 %, being highest in the third trimester.These symptoms should encourage changes as regards composition of meals (check for food hypersensitivity), time from meal to bedtime, moderate exercise after eating, supported by short therapies with alginate-based formulations.Constipation in pregnant women is the most underreported disturbance during the second and third trimester commonly interpreted as a simple progesterone-related symptom.Indeed, fiber intake is usually well below the standard recommendations in the daily health plate and thus is frequently forgotten by healthcare providers.The lack of prebiotics and hydrophilic fibers is frequently associated with subclinical inflammatory bowel disease thus translating a latent dysfunction into a clinical symptom.During pregnancy it may be difficult to assess if a specific symptom is an expression of a gastrointestinal disease or if it is caused by the pregnancy itself that simply adds on the preexisting subclinical gastrointestinal abnormalities.The aim of every healthcare provider is to identify gastrointestinal symptoms during pregnancy, refuse the idea that all of them are simple normal side effects of being pregnant, and, through them, identify prepregnancy subclinical conditions and to address the best treatment options, focusing particularly on nutritional mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMetabolic Syndrome and Complications of Pregnancy: The Potential Preventive Role of Nutrition
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9783319168531, 9783319168524
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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