Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences


Maternal diet and nutritional status have a direct impact on pregnancy course and outcome. Nutrition is critical to the development of the human embryo and fetus. Each year in the United States, approximately 4000 pregnancies are affected by neural tube defects (NTD). The most important finding in recent years has been the relationship between maternal folic acid status and NTDs. Other studies have found an association between zinc deficiency and an increased risk for having an NTD-affected pregnancy. Furthermore, some of the latest research has linked maternal obesity with the development of NTDs. The cumulative data from several studies have clearly indicated enormous savings in direct medical costs associated with the prevention of NTDs. Improving the nutritional status of women of childbearing age can help to prevent NTDs, resulting in substantial savings.



Faculty Mentor

Noreen B. Schvaneveldt