This study aimed to evaluate dietary nutrient intake among Chinese pregnant women by comparison with Chinese Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) and to explore the association between dietary nutrients and preterm birth. A case‐control design was conducted in Beijing with 130 preterm delivery mothers in case group and 381 term delivery mothers in control group. Information on mothers’ diet was collected using a food frequency questionnaire, and nutrients and energy intakes were subsequently calculated based on DRIs. Multivariate analysis of variance was used to compare the differences between term and preterm groups in relation to dietary nutrients. Dietary nutrient intakes were imbalanced in both groups compared with Chinese DRIs. Preterm delivery mothers had a lower level of fat and vitamin E intake than term delivery mothers (p < 0.05). Multivariate analysis showed lower vitamin E intake in preterm delivery mothers with a prepregnancy BMI < 18.5 kg/m2 (p < 0.05) and higher carbohydrate intake in preterm delivery mothers with prepregnancy BMI ≥ 24 kg/m2 (p < 0.05). An imbalanced diet in both groups and low level of dietary intakes of fat and vitamin E in preterm group suggest health education measures should be taken to improve the dietary quality of pregnant women, especially for those with an abnormal prepregnancy BMI.
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