The influence of pregnancy on the use and acceptance of probiotics

Natasha Ramsay, Kelton P. Tremellen, Karma L. Pearce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aimed to determine Australasian women's general knowledge of probiotics, their use, acceptance and motivations to consume probiotics and whether these variables changed during pregnancy. 493 women aged 20-42 years were surveyed online using Survey Monkey. Consumer preference and acceptance was evaluated using the psychological constructs used in Protection Motivation Theory. This analysis revealed women contemplating pregnancy or pregnant would only take probiotics if they perceived they were vulnerable to disease (β=0.33, p<0.04; (β=0.32, p<0.05) respectively). Self-efficacy was also a predictor of probiotics usage for pregnant women (β=-0.43, p<0.01) particularly when living in the metropolitan area (p=0.028). Healthy women, not pregnant or contemplating pregnancy were more likely to consume probiotics supplements is they were consuming vitamin supplements (β=0.42, p<0.01), they believed probiotics were effective (β=-0.15, p<0.01), were required (β=-0.11, p<0.01) and there were rewards of a maladaptive approach (β=0.17, p<0.01). While 60% of respondents believed probiotics to be good for gastrointestinal symptoms, alarmingly 30% felt that probiotic use in pregnancy was not safe. Given the benefits of probiotics in improving the maternal metabolic profiles, pregnancy outcomes and health outcomes for the offspring, education programs to address misconceptions need to recognise that pregnancy may change the acceptance of probiotics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-48
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Probiotics and Prebiotics
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Australasian women
  • Functional foods
  • Pregnancy
  • Probiotics
  • Protection motivation theory
  • Supplements


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