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JFAS Int 2006;4:e2 Jan. 2006
A survey of women's attitudes concerning healthy lifestyle changes prior to pregnancy

Adrienne Einarson, Gideon Koren

The Motherisk Program, Division of Clinical Pharmacology,
The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Ontario

Abstract

Background
In recent years there has been a concerted effort to educate women of child bearing years on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle before becoming pregnant, to ensure the best possible conditions for their baby. This has included large-scale public health campaigns to make women aware of the benefits of taking folic acid prior to pregnancy.

Objectives
To examine women's attitudes towards their health, focusing on lifestyle changes prior to pregnancy.

Method
A telephone survey was conducted by Ipsos Reid with a sampling of 300 women between the ages of 18-44, who were recently (within 6 years) or currently pregnant. The women were asked about their lifestyle changes including their awareness and folic acid use prior to pregnancy.

Results
70% of the women polled stated they made periconceptional lifestyle changes which included giving up alcohol, cutting down or quitting smoking, improving their diet and taking folic acid. However, only 51% of the women planning a pregnancy took folic acid prior to becoming pregnant. Health professionals were seen as the most effective information source in convincing women to make these health changes. 72% of the women who planned a pregnancy had also decided to breast feed their babies prior to becoming pregnant. The women also felt that men should also effect lifestyle changes.

Conclusion
Women are concerned about their health decisions prior to pregnancy and are making changes accordingly. However, despite the many public health campaigns and women's knowledge about taking folic acid, more women planning a pregnancy should be taking folic acid.

Key Words: Prenatal, periconceptional, pregnancy, lifestyles, folic acid

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