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Objectives: To examine the prevalence and combined occurrence of peri-conceptional folic acid (FA) supplement use, smoking and alcohol consumption during pregnancy in a sample of women in Dublin, and determine the factors associated with these health behaviours.
Subjects/Methods: A prospective observational study (2004-2006) involving the recruitment of 491 pregnant women from antenatal clinics in a Dublin maternity hospital, with postpartum follow-up of 450 eligible mothers. Data on FA use, maternal smoking and alcohol consumption patterns during pregnancy were collected from the antenatal patient-administered questionnaire, which was completed by participants, and returned to the investigator on the day of recruitment.
Results: The median gestational age of women at recruitment was 36 weeks. A combined 24.2% of mothers commenced FA at the recommended time, avoided alcohol consumption and smoking during pregnancy. 35.3% of mothers reported to consuming alcohol, 20.9% smoked during pregnancy and 44.4% commenced FA at the recommended time. Mothers < 25 years were more likely to have not taken FA at the recommended time (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 4.0, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.64-9.77) and were more likely to have smoked during pregnancy (aOR 3.56, 95% CI: 1.32-9.57). Irish nationality positively predicted both alcohol consumption (aOR: 4.37, 95% CI: 1.88-10.15) and smoking (aOR: 10.92, 95% CI: 1.35-87.98) during pregnancy.
Conclusions: Educational efforts are still necessary to convince women of Irish nationality, in particular, of the adverse effects of smoking and alcohol consumption on foetal outcome. Women < 25 years should be specifically targeted in smoking cessation and FA promotional campaigns.
Tarrant RC, Younger KM, Sheridan-Pereira M & Kearney JM (2011) Maternal health behaviours during pregnancy in an Irish obstetric population and associations with socio-demographic and infant characteristics. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition March 2 (on-line ahead of publication). doi:10.1038/ejcn.2011.16.