Open Access Research article

Women participating in a web-based preconception study have a high prevalence of risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes

Elisabetta Pandolfi1*, Eleonora Agricola1, Micaela Veronica Gonfiantini1, Francesco Gesualdo1, Mariateresa Romano2, Emanuela Carloni1, Pierpaolo Mastroiacovo3 and Alberto E Tozzi1

Author Affiliations

1 Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital IRCCS, Epidemiology Unit, Piazza S. Onofrio 4, 00165 Rome, Italy

2 Departement of Onco-Ematology and Transplantation Medicine, Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital IRCCS, Piazza S. Onofrio 4, 00165 Rome, Italy

3 Alessandra Lisi International Centre on Birth Defects and Prematurity, Via Carlo Mirabello 14, 00192 Rome, Italy

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2014, 14:169  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-169

Published: 17 May 2014



Adverse pregnancy outcomes (APOs) can be increased by preconception risk factors and lifestyles.

We measured the prevalence of preconception risk factors for APOs in a population of Italian women of childbearing age enrolled in a web-based study.


Participants were enrolled through a web platform ( webcite). After enrollment, participants filled in a questionnaire regarding socio-demographic characteristics, clinical data and preconception risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes. Through logistic regression, we explored how the prevalence of risk factors was affected by age, education level, employment, parity, physician’s recommendation and knowledge of the specific risk factor.


We enrolled a total of 728 women. Sixty-two percent had a University degree, 84% were employed and 77% were planning their first pregnancy.

Nearly 70% drank alcohol in any quantity; 16% were smokers; 6% was underweight; 21.4% was overweight; 51.6% did not assume folic acid; 22% was susceptible to rubella, 44.5% to hepatitis b and 13.2% to varicella.

According to the multivariate analysis, compared to women who already had at least one pregnancy, nulliparous women had a higher BMI [OR 1.60 (CI 1.02;2.48)] and were less likely to be susceptible to rubella [OR 0.33 (CI 0.20;0.58)] and to be consuming alcohol [OR 0.47 (CI 0.31;0.70)] or cigarettes [OR 0.48 (CI 0.26;0.90)].

Appropriate knowledge was associated with a correct behavior regarding smoking, drinking alcohol and folic acid supplementation.


This study shows that the prevalence of risk factors for APOs in our population is high.

Interventions aimed at reducing risk factors for APOs are needed and, to this purpose, a web intervention may represent a feasible tool to integrate tailored information and to inform preconception counseling targeting a specific group of women planning a pregnancy who are engaged on the web.

Adverse pregnancy outcomes; Prevalence; Preconception care; Maternal-child health services