Australia: Pregnant woman risk health due to ‘information overload’


An alarming number of women continue binge drinking and smoking and are hardly making any changes to their diets while pregnant, likely due to information overload.

A new study has revealed that pregnant women often feel so inundated with messages about what to do and what to avoid that they are ignoring basic health advice.

According to the leading study of Australian women’s health, almost 80 percent of pregnant women drink alcohol and 30 percent continue smoking while pregnant.

The study of more than 58,000 women across four age groups began 20 years ago to collect the results.

Deborah Loxton, deputy director of Australian Longitudinal Study, claims the main reason women are still risking their health is because “there is so much information given to women while they are pregnant.”

“There are more rules and regulations and more recommendations than women have ever had before,” she said.

“Everything just goes in the bag or the folders. There’s nothing there that communicates what is the most important thing to do.”

No soft cheese, no deli meats or bean sprouts and ensuring meat is cooked to perfection are just some of the guidelines enforced by the NSW Government Food Authority in a bid to avoid food poisoning among pregnant women.

However these rules might be causing more harm than good.

A study of 1577 woman who drank alcohol before falling pregnant revealed more than half of those confessed to a history of binge drinking (five or more drinks in one sitting) and continued the practice while pregnant.

“We say while there is no clear evidence that it is harmful, there is no clear evidence that it is not. So the recommendation is that abstinence is the safest,” professor Loxton said.

Meanwhile US health economist Emily Oster of Brown University also confessed women are often become confused by pregnancy guidelines.

“People tell you not to do so many things, eventually you reach the point where you think ‘Well, I ate some extra ice cream, so I might as well do everything else!’… This is of course wrong but the instinct is understandable,” she said.

Associate Professor Oster recommends pregnant women, don’t smoke, do pelvic floor exercises and choose a doctor or midwife they can trust.

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