Objective: Limited prevalence data for unhealthy pregnancy health behaviours make it difficult to prioritise primary prevention efforts for maternal and infant health. This study's objective was to establish the prevalence of cigarette smoking, sufficient fruit and vegetable intake and sufficient physical activity among women accessing antenatal clinics in a Queensland (Australia) health service district.
Method: Cross-sectional self-reported smoking status, daily fruit and vegetable intake, weekly physical activity and a range of socio-demographic variables were obtained from women recruited at their initial antenatal clinic visit, over a three-month recruitment phase during 2007.
Results: Analyses were based on 262 pregnant women. The study sample was broadly representative of women giving birth in the district and state, with higher representation of women with low levels of education and high income. More than one quarter of women were smoking. Few women met the guidelines for sufficient fruit (9.2%), vegetables (2.7%) or physical activity (32.8%) during pregnancy.
Conclusions: There were low levels of adherence to health behaviour recommendations for pregnancy in this sample.
Implications: There is a clear need to develop and evaluate effective pregnancy behaviour interventions to improve primary prevention in maternal and infant health. Brief minimal contact interventions that can be delivered through primary care to create a greater primary prevention focus for maternal and infant health would be worth exploring.