As a precaution against acquiring food‐borne illnesses, guidelines recommend women avoid some foods during pregnancy.
To examine among women receiving antenatal care: (i) level of knowledge and self‐reported adherence to guidelines about foods that should be avoided during pregnancy; and (ii) associated socio‐demographic characteristics.
Women attending a public outpatient clinic who were: pregnant or had recently given birth; 18 years or older; able to complete an English language survey with minimal assistance; and had at least one prior antenatal appointment for their current pregnancy, were asked to complete a cross‐sectional survey.
In total 223 women (64% consent rate) participated. Knowledge of foods to avoid during pregnancy was poor, with 83% of women incorrectly identifying at least one unsafe food as safe to consume. The average knowledge score for foods to avoid during pregnancy was 7.9 (standard deviation = 3.4; median = 9; interquartile range: 6–11; n = 218) out of a possible score of 12. Having more general practice (GP) visits for antenatal care and fewer tertiary antenatal visits were significantly associated with higher knowledge. Women with a higher number of GP visits and those receiving care in a high‐risk clinic were more likely to be adherent to guidelines.
The majority of pregnant women have poor knowledge of food avoidance guidelines and continue to consume foods that put them at risk.