Rates of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy and dietary characteristics across populations.
Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP) is a pervasive and debilitating phenomenon in humans. Several adaptive explanations for NVP occurrence have been recently proposed, the two most prominent of which predict associations with nutritional intake or specific dietary components. Here we extend previous cross-cultural analyses by analysing associations between NVP prevalence in 56 studies (21 countries) and quantitative estimates of per capita intake across major dietary categories, measured for the year of study by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Rates of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy were correlated with high intake of macronutrients (kilocalories, protein, fat, carbohydrate), as well as sugars, stimulants, meat, milk and eggs, and with low intake of cereals and pulses. Restricting analyses to studies from North America and Europe caused relationships between macronutrient intake and NVP to disappear, suggesting that they might be influenced by non-dietary confounds associated with geographical region of study. However, factor analysis of dietary components revealed one factor significantly associated with NVP rate, which was characterized by low cereal consumption and high intake of sugars, oilcrops, alcohol and meat. The results provide further evidence for an association between diet and NVP prevalence across populations, and support for the idea that NVP serves an adaptive prophylactic function against potentially harmful foodstuffs.