When planning a pregnancy, do women follow the recommendations for nutrition and lifestyle?

From: BMJ

Journal rating:
rating: 99%
Study Quality:
rating: 55%

Overall Reliability

Article Quality:
rating: 55%
rating: 75%


  • 12,445 non-pregnant women aged 20-34


  • Women were interviewed in their homes by research nurses.
  • Information was recorded on diet, physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, and use of nutritional supplements over the preceding 3 months.
  • When the women became pregnant details were compared against those women who did not.


  • Of the women who became pregnant within 3 months (238) –
  1. 26% were smokers.
  2. 57% had taken strenuous exercise in the previous 3 months.
  3. 53% consumed 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
  4. consuming slightly less alcohol per week (4.0 units against 4.8 units).
  5. Only 44% had taken any folic acid supplements in the preceding 3 months, and only 5.5% has taken 400ug or more a day.


  • Very few women (2.9%) comply fully with the recommendations on alcohol and folic acid intake in the three months before becoming pregnant.


Editors Notes

  • Best known recommendation for women who are planning pregnancy is to take 400ug of folic acid a day to prevent neural tube defects.
  • Women planning a pregnancy are urged to avoid alcohol altogether.