Food Safety News

Pregnant women’s knowledge, practices, and needs related to food safety and listeriosis

 
Campus Administrator
Pregnant women’s knowledge, practices, and needs related to food safety and listeriosis
by Campus Administrator - Tuesday, 4 December 2012, 12:05 PM
 
http://www.cfp.ca/content/58/10/1106.full

Marsha Taylor, MSc, Meghan Kelly, MD CCFP, Mélissandre Noël, MD CCFP, Shendra Brisdon, CPHI(C), Jonathan Berkowitz, PhD, Larry Gustafson, MD MHSc, Eleni Galanis, MD MPH FRCPC

Abstract

Objective To understand the knowledge, attitudes, practices, and needs of pregnant women regarding food safety, including the risk of listeriosis, in order to develop targeted messages and educational resources in British Columbia (BC).

Design Qualitative study using focus groups and quantitative study using a standardized questionnaire.

Setting Seven family practice clinics in BC. Focus groups were conducted in 3 program groups for new mothers.

Participants Pregnant women and women who had recently delivered babies.

Methods Three focus groups were conducted with women who had recently delivered. Qualitative analysis to identify common themes was conducted. A questionnaire was completed by pregnant women at their health care providers’ (HCPs’) offices. Statistical analysis was done to assess associations between demographic features, knowledge, and practices. Results from both study methods were compared and common findings were presented.

Main findings Participants reported that food safety and the risk of listeriosis were important to them during pregnancy; however, their knowledge of high-risk foods and safe food practices was limited. Although they identified their HCPs as a valuable source of information, they explained there were barriers to getting information from them. Participants reported doing their own research using books, websites, and social networks. They made recommendations to improve food safety messages, as well as the availability and format of resources.

Conclusion Women in BC identified a gap between the information on food safety and listeriosis that they needed during pregnancy and the resources that were available. Using the information collected from this study, resources that are targeted at women of childbearing years, as well as their HCPs, are under development in BC.

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterial pathogen most commonly transmitted to humans by eating contaminated foods such as unpasteurized milk, unpasteurized or soft cheese, ready-to-eat meat products (eg, pâté, deli meats), seafood (eg, smoked salmon), and produce.1 Vertical transmission from mother to fetus is also possible.2

Most healthy individuals are asymptomatic or experience mild symptoms such as fever, myalgia, headache, and diarrhea. In vulnerable populations (eg, the elderly, those with weakened immune systems, pregnant women), the infection can become invasive causing meningoencephalitis, sepsis, or death. Infection is rare, but among vulnerable populations the outcome can be serious, with an overall mortality of 20% to 30%.1 Infection is 18 times more common during pregnancy; and during the third trimester, women are at increased risk owing to the decline in cell-mediated immunity.2 Listeriosis might also cause stillbirth, premature labour, spontaneous abortion, and neonatal infection.3

In British Columbia (BC) (population 4.5 million), invasive listeriosis is a reportable disease. Between 2002 and 2010, 118 cases of invasive listeriosis were reported.4 Eight (6.7%) cases were pregnant women and an additional 3 (2.5%) were neonate infections for a total of 11 (9.3%) pregnancy-related infections.

International studies have demonstrated that pregnant women have an incomplete knowledge of the risks associated with Listeria, that they might not be taking all preventive measures,5–8 and that although their health care providers (HCPs) are a trusted source of information, HCPs are providing limited information on the risks.9–11 As listeriosis is almost entirely preventable through proper food handling and choices, it is important for vulnerable populations to have knowledge of safe food practices.

Owing to the large listeriosis outbreak in Canada in 2008,12 there has been an interest in improving information provided to high-risk populations, but there are currently no published studies that demonstrate the knowledge and practices of pregnant women regarding food safety or practices specific to the prevention of Listeria infections. The objective of this study was to better understand the knowledge, attitudes, practices, and needs of pregnant women regarding food safety, including the risk of listeriosis, in order to develop targeted messages and resources in BC. We used both qualitative and quantitative methods to improve our understanding and meet our objective.

Visit http://www.bccdc.ca/foodhealth/foodguidelines/PregnancyandFoodSafety.htm for practical resources.