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A16. A study of nutritional knowledge and supplement use in pregnant women

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Background Current research recognizes a good nutritional state as essential for the well‐being of the foetus in pregnancy and there is an increasing body of evidence linking nutritional knowledge with an improved nutritional state. Folic acid is of particular importance in pregnancy due to its role in preventing neural tube defects.

Aim This study aimed to determine the effect of the recent Department of Health folic acid campaign on the knowledge and use of folic acid supplements in a group of pregnant women, as well as assessing their use and means of access to other vitamin and mineral preparations. It also aimed to identify the main sources from which parents obtain nutritional information and establish the effect of the St. George’s Hospital ’Guide to Nutrition in Pregnancy’ booklet on the nutritional knowledge of the women using this group.

Methods A self‐administered questionnaire was randomly distributed to 100 pregnant women attending subsequent ante‐natal appointments at St. George’s Hospital in Tooting of which 67 were fully completed and returned. Relationships between variables were investigated using Chi‐squared.

Results 100% of women were aware of folic acid and 66% knew its exact role in preventing neural tube defects, with this knowledge being higher in those who had a job (P = 0.01). 61% of women were taking folic acid supplements with use being higher in those who had planned their pregnancy (P < 0.01), didn’t smoke (P < 0.05), had a job (P < 0.01) and in higher social classes (P < 0.01). 78% of women were taking nutritional supplements with more being taken during pregnancy (60%) than on a regular basis (40%) and most being taken once a day (58%). Supplements were most frequently bought from a chemist (50%) or supermarket (22%) or obtained on prescription from a GP (22%). The most common sources of information on nutrition in pregnancy were The BOUNTY book on having a baby, ’Mum‐to be’ magazines and ’St George’s Guide to Nutrition in Pregnancy’ with the latter two being regarded as giving the best, most useful information. Those who had received the St George’s booklet had better overall nutritional knowledge about pregnancy than those who hadn’t (P < 0.05).

Conclusions The relaunch of the folic acid campaign has succeeded in raising awareness and use of folic acid supplements in this group and the publication of St. George’s ’Guide to Nutrition in Pregnancy’ has increased their general knowledge of the nutrition issues relating to pregnancy.
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Document Type: Abstract

Affiliations: School of Biological Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey

Publication date: 2000-10-01

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