Food taboos among pregnant women in Hadiya Zone, Ethiopia.
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A cross-sectional study assessing the prevalence of food taboos during pregnancy, types of foods prohibited and the associations of some of the socioeconomic parameters to food taboos, was carried out in Hadiya Zone, Southern Ethiopia. Two hundred ninety five healthy pregnant women who attended an antenatal clinic for routine check-up between February and May 1995, were included in the study. A questionnaire consisting of socioeconomic information, food taboo practice, types of foods avoided and reasons for avoidance was administered by trained nurses. The results indicate that a little over a quarter of them (27%) avoided at least one type of food due to food taboos. Milk and cheese were regarded as taboo foods by nearly half of the women (44.4%) followed by linseed and fatty meat (16% 11.1% respectively). The reasons for avoiding foods include fear of difficult delivery (51%), discoloration of the fetus (20%) and fear of abortion (9.7%). Among the few socioeconomic variables studied, education and income were found to influence food taboos (P<0.05). The findings underscore the importance of education and income in improving maternal nutrition, through changing food habits and increasing purchasing power of the mothers. Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 1998;12(1):45-49]