A Brazilian study has found that mothers who have strong family support are less likely to smoke, to drink alcohol and to have a poor diet during pregnancy.
Mario Vettore of the University of Sheffield coordinated the study, examining questionnaires completed by 1400 mothers, once in the first trimester of pregnancy and again 10 days after the birth.
They examined both features of the neighbourhood (“neighbourhood social capital”) and individual social support (“individual social capital”).
Individual social capital – family support and support from close friends – was measured by asking how many relatives the women felt at ease with and could talk to. Also questions like: “If you need, how often have you someone to….
- Help you if you are confined to bed?
- Listen to you when you need to talk?
- Give you good advice in a crisis situation?
- Take you to see a doctor?
- Show love and affection for you?
- Have fun together?
- Give you a hug?
- Relax with?
- Prepare your meals, if you cannot prepare them?”
The authors stop short of recommending a strategy that engages with and assists with the family support that women receive. The research was commissioned before the WHO declared that engagement with a woman’s family support network is a priority, with the aim of helping it to be more supportive.
Tofani AA, de Almeida Lamarca G, Sheiham A & Vettore MV (2015), The different effects of neighbourhood and individual social capital on health-compromising behaviours in women during pregnancy: a multi-level analysis, BMC Public Health 15
Photo: Daniel Zanini H. Creative Commons.