When planning a pregnancy, do women follow the recommendations for nutrition and lifestyle?
- Inskip, H.M., Crozier, S.R., Godfrey, K.M., Borland, S.E., Cooper, C., Robinson, S.M., for the Southampton Women’s Survey Study Group, 2009. Women’s compliance with nutrition and lifestyle recommendations before pregnancy: general population cohort study. BMJ 338, b481–b481.
- 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) –
- 26% were smokers.
- 57% had taken strenuous exercise in the previous 3 months.
- 53% consumed 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
- consuming slightly less alcohol per week (4.0 units against 4.8 units).
- 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.
- 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.