The University of Bristol in the UK is seeking volunteers for a new study that will identify the foods women tend to avoid during pregnancy and the information sources that influence their decision to include or avoid certain foods.

The PEAR Study (Pregnancy, the Environment And nutRition) is run by Dr Caroline Taylor and Dr Lucy Beasant from the Centre for Academic Child Health at the University of Bristol’s Medical School, and is funded by the Medical Research Council.

The researchers are looking for women in England who have a had baby in the last year to complete an online survey about their eating habits during pregnancy.

Dr Caroline Taylor said: “It is well known that nutrition and diet is key for a healthy pregnancy – for both mother and baby. There is a great deal of information available about which foods pregnant women should eat to stay healthy, but it can be less clear what foods to cut down on or not eat at all.

“We are keen to know what women ate while they were pregnant, and whether that was different to before they were pregnant.”

Dr Lucy Beasant said: “We also want to find out where women get their information from, who they trust, and how closely they follow advice. We’ll be asking about what information was available to them about nutrition and diet during their pregnancy: perhaps a leaflet from their midwife, or through a website or app, maybe a magazine article, or perhaps through a friend or relative.”

The researchers will also be asking registered midwives who practice in England to fill in a questionnaire.

“We want to know if midwives have access to the resources they need and how they can pass on advice in a way that women are most receptive to,” said Dr Taylor.

“The findings of this study will be invaluable in providing information to help develop recommendations on the content of information provided to women about diet in pregnancy, and the best ways to provide that information.”

The study is looking for volunteers in three stages:

First, volunteers (midwives and women who’ve recently had a baby) are needed to help refine and finalise the survey questions and to ensure there are no electronic ‘glitches’.
Once finalised, midwives and women who’ve recently had a baby will be needed to fill in the online surveys.
In the final stage, researchers want to speak to a small group of women and midwives from those who filled in the survey, via a video or phone discussion, to provide more detail about their thoughts on information on diet in pregnancy.

Researchers are recruiting now for the stage 1 (video or phone discussion to help with finalising the survey questionnaire) and will open up the surveys for stage 2 soon after.

Dr Caroline Taylor said: “We are also looking for women to take part in a virtual advisory group – we’ll be asking you to give us feedback on different parts of our study (for example, on the ways we keep in contact with our volunteers, the content of our recruitment adverts, and so on). We want to make the study as successful as possible and your input will help us get everything just right first time.

For more information, please visit the study website or to speak to one of the academics involved, please contact: 07971 067 978.