Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Health related behaviours found to be lacking in pregnant women

A study of the health related behaviours of 262 pregnant women for factors such as fruit and vegetable intake, physical activity and smoking levels was recently undertaken by the University of Queensland researchers.

The researchers found that:

"Few women met the guidelines for sufficient fruit (9.2%) or sufficient vegetable (2.7%) intake. On average, women consumed half the recommended serves of fruit (mean 2.2, SD 1.1; median 2.0, IQR1.0-2.0) and little more than one third of the recommended serves of vegetables (mean 2.0, SD 0.6; median 2.0, IQR 1.0-3.0) per day. Approximately one third (32.8%) of the population was undertaking sufficient physical activity (see Figure 1). Women undertook a median of 112.5 minutes of physical activity per week (IQR 43.8-240.0). A large proportion of women smoked prior to pregnancy (37.8%) and more than one quarter continued to smoke during pregnancy. Approximately 10% of women quit smoking when they became pregnant. On average, women smoked 15.9 cigarettes a day (SD 1.2, n=103) before becoming pregnant and smoked 13.4 cigarettes a day (SD 2.6, n=26) once becoming pregnant. Twenty-one per cent of women were overweight and 20.0% were obese before becoming pregnant"

This is where one to one midwifery care is so beneficial. When women and midwives work together in a primary health care way, issues such as the health related behaviours noted above can be explored and discussed in a safe and effective way. My guess is that the busy antenatal clinics where women wait for hours and see whoever is free, isn't the place where sensitive subjects such as eating habits, exercise activities and smoking are explored in effective ways, if at all.

The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health (2009) 33(3): 228-33
The full text of the study can be read online at:

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