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Many Women Do Not Follow Pre-Pregnancy Guidelines

Few planning pregnancy take folic acid supplements and limit alcoholic beverages to four or fewer per week

FRIDAY, Feb. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Few women comply with nutrition and lifestyle recommendations when planning a pregnancy, and greater efforts are needed to improve compliance to these recommendations, according to research published online Feb. 12 in BMJ.

Hazel M. Inskip, of Southampton General Hospital in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study in 12,445 women (aged 20 to 34 years) who were not pregnant. In this population, 238 became pregnant within three months after initiating the study.

Women who became pregnant were only slightly more likely to adhere to recommendations for planning a pregnancy compared with women who did not become pregnant, the researchers report. For instance, 2.9 percent of women who became pregnant were taking folic acid supplements and drinking four or fewer units of alcohol per week, compared with 0.66 percent of women who did not become pregnant. Women who became pregnant were equally likely as those who did not become pregnant to consume at least five servings of fruit and vegetables daily (53 percent in each group), the investigators found.

"Our data show limited evidence of changes in health behaviors before pregnancy," the authors write, adding "substantial rates of unplanned pregnancies mean that greater efforts are needed to improve the nutrition and lifestyles in women of childbearing age."

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