Dr Alexis Hure: Comparison of Australian women's dietary intake during pregnancy and non-pregnancy.

Doctoral Thesis: Diet quality in young australian women according to pregnancy status

Objective: To compare the diet quality of young Australian women according to pregnancy status, defined as: (i) Pregnant & <12mo infant; (ii) Pregnant; (iii) Trying to conceive & <12mo infant; (iv) Trying to conceive; (v) <12mo infant (vi) Other.

Study design/setting: The ALSWH data collected during Survey 3 (March 2003) for the ‘Young’ cohort (aged 25-30yrs) has been included in this analysis. Of particular interest is the dietary intake data which were assessed through the inclusion of the Cancer Council of Victoria’s Dietary Questionnaire for Epidemiological Studies (DQES) Version 2. A diet quality score reflecting adherence to national dietary recommendations was generated, according to the methodology employed for the Australian Recommended Food Score (ARFS). This measure of diet quality was compared according to pregnancy status. An investigation into the component food group scores for the ARFS was undertaken to detect where, if any, specific dietary differences between pregnancy groups exist. 

Results: Pregnancy status was predictive of diet quality (p=0.003) even after adjusting for education, area of residence, and marital status. Women who were pregnant, or had given birth in the previous 12 months had higher mean ARFS than those who were not pregnant, not trying, and had not recently given birth. However these findings were only statistically significant because of the large sample size. The absolute differences in mean ARFS were very small. No single food group accounted for the small variation in diet quality that did exist between pregnancy groups.
This project has been completed and any further analysis will be conducted as part of a new project in the future. A paper has been accepted by Public Health Nutrition.