Objective: To explore the level of Listeria awareness among pregnant women attending antenatal services and to gain a better understanding of womens perception of Listeria risk and factors that affect their practice in this regard.
Method: This was a cross-sectional study carried out over the period of April and November 2006 using a convenience sample of pregnant women attending antenatal clinics/classes in one private and two major public hospitals in South Eastern Sydney and Illawarra Area Health Services, NSW. Women were asked to participate by completing a self-administered questionnaire based on the standard food safety recommendations for pregnant women to avoid Listeria infection. The association between different socio-demographic variables and Listeria knowledge, related food practices, and womens perception of Listeria risk were investigated using bivariate and multivariate analysis.
Results: Nearly half of the 586 respondents had received some kind of information on Listeria prevention. The main channel for obtaining food-related information was social environment. More than 57 percent of participants had an incomplete knowledge of high Listeria risk foods, and approximately 25 percent of them continued the consumption of these foods with a relatively high frequency. A strong association was found between womens knowledge and their practice. Lower education and household income, unplanned pregnancy and non-English speaking background were associated with incomplete knowledge and more frequent consumption of at-risk foods.
Conclusion and Implications: The provision of advice on Listeria prevention appears to be insufficient during prenatal consultations early in pregnancy and needs to be improved as an essential component of these services.