Women get pregnancy supplements wrong: study

pregnant woman in striped dress

Australian women are well aware that folic acid and iodine are recommended supplements to take during pregnancy, but only a quarter of them adhere to the recommendations, say Australian scientists.

The study, Poor adherence to folic acid and iodine supplement recommendations in preconception and pregnancy: a cross-sectional analysis, found that around 90% of the 857 participants knew that folic acid should be taken to help their babies during periods of rapid growth.

However only 27% ended up taking the correct dosage, or even knew how much they needed.

Knowledge of iodine requirements was a bit lower at 56-69%, but an even lower 23% knew about the dosage, they say.

The authors believe that healthcare providers will need to play a bigger part in enforcing the requirements during GP visits. 

The authors note that theirs is the first study to report nationwide data on Australian women’s adherence to the perioconceptional folic acid (PSF) and iodine supplementation (IS) requirements.

“Our findings not only show that adherence to both recommendations is low, but reveal widespread misconceptions about the need for supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, iron and calcium in preconception and pregnancy,” they write.

“We have also shown for the first time that awareness of the recommended duration of supplementation (but not recommended dose) is an independent predictor of adherence to the IS and PFS recommendations.

“While the majority of women knew that PFS and IS are recommended in both preconception and pregnancy, it was knowledge of the specific periconceptional timing that predicted adherence to the PFS recommendation.”

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