Nutrition information in pregnancy: Where do women seek advice and has this changed over time?



Publication Details

Lobo, S., Lucas, C., Herbert, J., Townsend, M., Smith, M., Kunkler, E. & Charlton, K. (2020). Nutrition information in pregnancy: Where do women seek advice and has this changed over time?. Nutrition and Dietetics, 77 (3), 382-391.


Aim: Nutrition during pregnancy is fundamental to both the health of the mother and her baby. Sources of nutrition-related information are available via many sources but their accuracy is unknown. The present study aimed to (a) identify where women source their nutrition information during pregnancy and (2) assess the accuracy of nutrition information for pregnancy that is available on the internet. Methods: A survey instrument that identified the main sources of nutrition information was administered to 68 pregnant women recruited online. Data from this survey were compared to previous similar surveys conducted with pregnant mothers across years 2008, 2011 and 2014. A content analysis of websites was simultaneously conducted to assess the accuracy of available information. Results: The main source of nutrition information for a variety of topics was verbal communication from health professionals (% responses affirmative for that source ranged from 6.6% to 69% across survey years). There was an increasing trend in internet sourced information for most nutrition topics, but this source remained low for iodine across all years (range: 7.3%-15.9%). The internet was the main source of information for listeria/food safety (15.3%-32.4%) and healthy eating (25%-42%). Of the n = 165 websites identified by the content analysis, 82.4% (n = 136) were rated as accurate, with government (96.9%) and business/company (100%) sites having the highest accuracy. Conclusion: Verbal communication from health professionals remains the most important source of nutrition information for pregnancy. The high credibility of websites indicates this to be an additional resource. Further study into health literacy levels among women visiting these sites is needed to assess impact on dietary behaviour.

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