Background Dietary health supplementation can be defined as products used to boost or complement regular dietary intake. There has been no strict recommendation on the types of heath food supplement use during pregnancy other than folic acid and iron supplementation.
Objective To determine the level of health supplement and dietary intake during pregnancy in an Irish population.
Methods Prospective anonymous based cross sectional questionnaire study. Standardised numbered questionnaires were distributed to all postnatal mothers in Cork University Maternity Hospital over a period of 8 weeks.
Results 1019 questionnaires were returned. Overall response rate achieved was 92.7%. Forty two percent were nulliparous. Majority of respondents were between 31-35 years old. Fifty seven percent had private health insurance. 69.4% were in employment. 74.1% had tertiary level education. Overall 74.9% respondents thought it was necessary to take health supplements during pregnancy. Only 64% took health supplements during their recent pregnancy. Of these 91.4% took folic acid, 69% iron supplements, 52% multivitamins, 32% essential fatty acids, 3.7% probiotics, 22.1% herbal supplements, 0.8% home remedies and 7.1% minerals. Comparing socioeconomic or employment status did not show a difference.
Conclusions Recommendations for the use of pre-conceptual folic acid is clear. Iron supplements during pregnancy is also beneficial in the 2nd and 3rd trimester. However, it is unclear as to the benefits of other dietary supplements such as multivitamins, omega 3,6 etc in a presence of a good dietary intake in the developed countries. The level of health supplement usage in the Irish population is high.
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