The "troubling" stats around alcohol, smoking and drugs in women trying for a baby 1 month ago

The "troubling" stats around alcohol, smoking and drugs in women trying for a baby

"The road to parenthood isn’t always straightforward so it’s vital to let people know how they can prepare themselves"

Growing and birthing a baby is hard work, but according to a brand new UK study, many women are not making healthy changes to their lifestyle before starting to try for a family.

Scientists analysed data on more than 130,000 women in the UK who were asked questions about maternal health, and they discovered some 'troubling trends.'

According to the research, conducted via pregnancy charity Tommy’s by King’s College London, 54 percent of women planning a pregnancy still drank alcohol, 20 percent smoked cigarettes and as many as 3.7 percent said they used recreational drugs.

What is more, only half of the women questioned said they consumed the recommended 'five-a-day' serving of fruits and vegetables, and even fewer said they make time to exercise regularly.

"Every parent wants to give their children the best start in life, but our study suggests it’s not well known in the UK that people can take steps before they even start trying to increase their chances of having a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby," said research author Dr Angela Flynn said about the findings.

"Despite lots of evidence that folic acid supplements improve pregnancy health, few people we studied were taking them when trying for a baby. The road to parenthood isn’t always straightforward so it’s vital to let people know how they can prepare themselves."

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The findings of the study were published recently in the journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, and comes on the heels of the World Health Organisation going as far as to call for all women of child-bearing age to be banned from drinking alcohol.

"Most people make changes to look after their health and wellbeing once they know they’re expecting, but many don’t realise that acting even earlier can really help get the body ready for pregnancy," says midwife Amina Hatia with pregnancy charity Tommy’s.

"It’s not just about cutting out risky things like caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes. Positive steps like keeping active and eating a balanced diet can also make a big difference."

With the findings of the study, Tommy's is calling for a UK preconception health strategy to raise awareness and provide targeted services for women preparing for a pregnancy.