Objective: To explore the level of Listeria awareness among pregnant women attending antenatal services and to gain a better understanding of women's knowledge of Listeria risk and factors that affect their practice in this regard.
Method: This was a cross-sectional study carried out from April to 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, New South Wales. 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, and related food practices, 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 information was social environment. More than 57% had an incomplete knowledge of foods with high Listeria risk, and approximately 25% continued the consumption of these foods with a relatively high frequency. A strong association was found between women's 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.