Produce Prescriptions on Maternal and Birth Outcomes:

A Food is Medicine Intervention Among Pregnant Women


Pregnancy is a critical period during which nutrition plays an important role for maternal and birth outcomes. Over the past three decades, the prevalence of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy increased by 149% and the prevalence of gestational diabetes increased by 261% in the US.11 There are also major disparities in these outcomes, with women from socioeconomically disadvantaged groups and those of color disproportionally affected. Studies have demonstrated that poor nutrition is a strong predictor for pregnancy complications and suboptimal birth outcomes such as preterm birth and low birth weight.

Produce prescriptions hold significant promise for addressing the alarming crisis of nutrition-related adverse outcomes and disparities for pregnant women, and yet the scientific evidence for its impact on maternal and birth outcomes is still limited. Importantly, to ensure that its full potential is reached, it is essential to obtain input from key stakeholders—patients and clinical staff—to assess how, why, and in what context produce prescriptions best meet the needs of patients.

Project Aims

Aim One

To qualitatively assess factors for effective design and delivery of produce prescriptions for improving maternal and birth outcomes and reducing disparities through in-depth interviews with 20 stakeholders (10 patients and 10 clinical staff).

Aim Two

To evaluate the feasibility of implementing produce prescriptions in prenatal care clinics and prospectively assessing pregnancy complications (excessive gestational weight gain, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, gestational diabetes) and birth outcomes (pre-term birth, low birthweight, and fetal growth restriction) among 20 pregnant women who receive up to 16 weeks of produce prescriptions.

Project Details

Project Team

Fang Fang Zhang, MD, PhD
Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University

Sara Folta, PhD
Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University

Perrie O-Tierney-Ginn, PhD
Tufts Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine

Chenchen Sun, MD
Tufts Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine


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