Tailored preconceptional dietary and lifestyle counselling in a tertiary outpatient clinic in the Netherlands
Background Adverse reproductive performance has been linked to unhealthy dietary intake and lifestyles. Our objectives were to investigate the prevalence of unhealthy dietary intake and lifestyles before conception and to evaluate whether tailored preconception counselling modifies these behaviours. Methods Between October 2007 and April 2009, 419 couples received tailored preconception dietary and lifestyle counselling at the outpatient clinic of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, the Netherlands. A subgroup (n = 110 couples) was counselled twice with a fixed time interval of 3 months. Self-administered questionnaires were used for tailored dietary and lifestyle counselling. A cumulative score based on six Dutch dietary guidelines was displayed in the personal Preconception Dietary Risk score (PDR score). In a similar manner, the Rotterdam Reproduction Risk score (R3 score) was calculated from lifestyle factors (women: 13 items, men: 10 items). Univariate and paired tests were used. Results Most couples (93.8) were subfertile. At the second counselling, the percentage consuming the recommended intake of fruit had increased from 65 to 80 in women and from 49 to 68 in men and the percentage of women getting the recommended intake of fish increased from 39 to 52. As a consequence, the median PDR score was decreased [women: 2.6 (95 CI 2.4-2.9) to 2.4 (95 CI 2.1-2.6), men: 2.5 (95 CI 2.3-2.7) to 2.2 (95 CI 1.9-2.4), both P < 0.05]. The median R3 scores were also lower [women: 4.7 (95 CI 4.3-5.0) to 3.1 (95 CI 2.8-3.4), men: 3.0 (95 CI 2.8-3.3) to 2.0 (95 CI 1.7-2.3), both P < 0.01] due to less alcohol use (-14.6), more physical exercise and folic acid use in women, and less alcohol use in men (-19.4) (all P < 0.01). The R3 scores in women and men were decreased in all ethnicity, educational level, neighbourhood and BMI categories. However, low educated women appeared to show a larger reduction than better educated women and men with a normal BMI to show a larger decrease than overweight men. The reduction in the PDR score of women was similar in both ethnic groups. More than 85 women and men found the counselling useful and around 70 would recommend it to others. Conclusions Tailored preconception counselling about unhealthy dietary and lifestyle behaviours of subfertile couples in an outpatient tertiary clinic is feasible and seems to decrease the prevalence of harmful behaviours in the short term. These Results with subfertile couples are promising and illustrate their opportunities to contribute to reproductive performance and pregnancy outcome.