Women ignore pre-pregnancy diet advice

Women ignore pre-pregnancy diet advice...

Women ignore healthy eating and lifestyle advice before a pregnancy, even when it is planned, a new study shows.

Researchers from the University of Southampton questioned 12,5000 UK women aged 20-34 about their diet, alcohol consumption, smoking, supplement use and physical activity. The women were then asked whether they intended to become pregnant in the next year.

They found that very few who later got pregnant were taking enough folic acid or met recommendations on alcohol intake. And they were only slightly less likely to smoke than those who did not get pregnant within a few months – some 74% were non-smokers compared with 69% of those who did not get pregnant.

Study leader Professor Hazel Inskip said the researchers had been shocked by the findings and that recommendations were not promoted widely enough for women planning a family. ‘The folic acid is the easiest recommendation to follow. It’s not difficult to get some folic acid supplements and to keep taking them, but it was pretty small numbers taking it,’ she said.

She added the alcohol message – which was recently changed to avoiding alcohol altogether – was the most challenging to get across because drinking was so embedded in the national culture.

Planning a pregnancy
Take 400µg folic acid a day
Avoid alcohol
Stop smoking
Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
Exercise regularly

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