GPs urged to advise in pregnancy

GPs should have been asked to take an active role in advising women throughout pregnancy, after survey results revealed that over half of pregnant woman in the UK are receiving conflicting and confusing advice.

The survey of 1,100 pregnant women, conducted by the baby charity Tommy's, showed that 60 per cent of the women surveyed said they had found contradictory information.

One in five women said that when they found information, they either did not understand it or it failed to answer their questions fully.

The increasing use of the internet as an important source of information on pregnancy appears to be the cause of the conflicting advice.

Nearly three quarters of pregnant women said they logged on to websites to access information on pregnancy.

But only 27 per cent of pregnant women said that they had approached their GP for advice during their pregnancy.

Professor of obstetrics for Tommy's, Andrew Shennan, said he was worried by the findings.

'There is a clear change in the way that people get information these days with the emphasis now on using the internet.

'But this creates problems because it is difficult to ensure the quality of the information.'

Pregnant women should maintain an open relationship with their GP throughout their pregnancy and should not be afraid to ask questions for fear of looking stupid, he said.

'GPs are uniquely placed to look after their pregnant patients as they have an insight into their history and medical conditions.'

Maintaining a relationship can help GPs look for conditions like late onset diabetes and hypertension that may be brought on by pregnancy, he added.

RCGP spokeswoman on women's health Dr Sarah Jarvis said it was worrying that pregnant women were unaware of the antenatal services available.

'There is a threat to continuity of care with many pregnant women moving from one GP to another. This prevents them from building up a relationship with their GP,' she said.

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