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Women who have poor appetites, who skip meals often, or who are purposely limiting their food intake may eat too little food to support a moderate body weight. Women on special diets for medical conditions may need assistance from a dietitian to modify food intake in support of their own health and a healthy pregnancy Women who omit a major food group from their diets may have inadequate intakes of nutrients supplied by that food group.
Use of Harmful Substances
The use of cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, alcoholic beverages, or illegal drugs is a health risk for women regardless of whether they are pregnant. Furthermore, it may adversely affect nutrition. (See box on the next page.)
See "Information About Drugs," Tab 10, for sources of information about prescription medications and over-the-counter products.
Signs of an eating disorder include dental enamel erosion, little subcutaneous fat, and (rarely) swollen parotid glands and callouses on the knuckles. Untreated dental disease, depression, battering, and other problems may interfere with adequate nutrient intake. Poor hygiene may be suggestive of life circumstances that interfere with adequate nutrient intake.