Mothers know best Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Nutrition has a critical effect on the infant's brain development during pregnancy and the first 18 months of life. Inappropriate diet can cause infant mortality. Research has shown that medical professionals lack the required knowledge regarding nutrition and that there are no suitable instructional programs on this subject for them. To examine the knowledge and attitudes of gynecologists, pediatricians and nurses who work in mother and child health clinics of "Maccabi" Healthcare Services in Israel concerning infants' and pregnant women's nutrition and to compare these findings to the public's general knowledge. The study population consisted of gynecologists and pediatricians who work in "Maccabi" Healthcare Services throughout the country and all the nurses at the family healthy clinics. In addition, a sample of mothers attending six different family health clinics was recruited. Four structured questionnaires were created for each group in the study population (gynecologist, pediatricians, nurses and mothers). The questionnaires included questions that evaluated the knowledge and attitudes toward infants' nutrition. The mothers showed high level of knowledge (67% correctly answered 3 or more of the 4 questions, compared to 51% of nurses, 27% or pediatricians, 38% of gynecologists, p < 0.01). The physicians showed a higher level of knowledge in the questions related to their specialty. When asked about the effect of nutritional instruction on the infants' health, the pediatricians answered correctly at a higher rate than the other study groups (74% of pediatricians answered correctly 3 out of 3 questions, compared to 60% of gynecologists, 47% nurses, p < 0.01). Professionals believe that they can train mothers on nutritional issues. Appointing a nutritionist to the mother and child clinics should be considered, as the professional caregivers of pregnant women and infants were found to be lacking in sufficient knowledge in certain aspects of nutrition for these populations.

publication date

  • January 1, 2003