Can I eat that? – Nutrition knowledge and behaviours or practices of pregnant women and clinicians

Dr Amelia Lee1, Dr Jessica Radcliffe2, Dr Michelle Newton2, Dr Regina Belski2

1Royal Women’s Hospital, Parkville, Australia, 2La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia


To measure pregnancy nutrition recommendation knowledge in pregnant women and clinicians and to explore how nutrition information influences food choice or nutrition counselling practices.

Participants self-administered a nutrition knowledge questionnaire asking about nutrition recommendations and source of nutrition information.  Interviews were then conducted to explore dietary behaviour and/or practices.

Clinicians nutrition knowledge score was higher than for women.  Gaps in knowledge included food group recommendations, weight gain recommendations and identifying high risk foods.  Clinicians procure their information from dietitians and print materials whereas women obtain their information from clinicians and the internet.  Interviews revealed that clinicians reported providing nutrition advice; however, few women reported receiving it.  When women did receive nutrition advice, it was brief, in general terms and at times conflicting.  Women want to know about the nutrition recommendations and the reasons for them.  Lack of nutrition knowledge, inadequate nutrition training and time constraints were associated with clinician’s ability to provide adequate and accurate nutrition advice.

Significance of the findings to allied health:
Enhancing nutrition knowledge is a cost-effective approach to optimising maternal and infant health outcomes.  Until knowledge deficits are addressed, opportunities for nutrition education, and the prevention of adverse health outcomes, will be limited.  Findings of this study highlight the need to develop accurate and comprehensive pregnancy nutrition education programs suitable for both women and clinicians.