Food aversions, cravings and pica during pregnancy are commonly known all over the world. They are documented starting from long period of time, and their prevalence varies from 50 to 90% of pregnant women. Although pica behavior is practiced globally, it is more prevalent within African countries. To know prevalence of these practices and their association with nutritional status of pregnant women, community based cross-sectional study was conducted among 605 pregnant women in Dale Woreda, Sidama zone, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region (SNNPRS), Ethiopia. Two-stage cluster sampling technique was used to select a representative sample. Statistical analysis was carried out using statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) version 17.0. The logistic regression and multiple linear regressions were carried out. From the total study participants, 67.9% of pregnant women were avoiding at least one food during their pregnancy period. Since food aversions, cravings and pica practicing are closely linked to meal pattern of pregnant woman, understanding these behaviors is important in addressing the issue of maternal nutrition in a pregnant woman. Unhealthy cravings for non-food items should be discouraged as there is no known nutritional benefit of such habit and can lead to intestinal problems like abdominal pain, constipation and infection. This study showed that the study participants had poor nutritional status. Food aversion, craving and pica practicing should be investigated during antenatal follow-up, and advice should be offered.
Key words: Food aversion, food craving, pica practicing and pregnant women.
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