EGA Institute for Women's Health


Pre-pregnancy health and pregnancy planning


Good maternal and paternal health before conception is increasingly recognised as important for the health of pregnant women and future generations. Together we are working in a number of areas of preconception care, from exploring levels and sources of knowledge and information of pre-pregnancy care to practises and beliefs prior to conception.

We have completed a Department of Health Policy Research Programmne on the study of pre-pregnancy health and care in England to inform future policy and practice. The findings can be found here.

Current Projects 

Start at the beginning

A pilot randomised controlled trial in primary care to determine the feasibility and efficacy of a nutrition and lifestyle digital intervention, Smarter Pregnancy, in improving preconception nutrition in women planning a pregnancy. The pilot trial will also provide key data to design a definitive trial of a preconception intervention to improve pregnancy and birth outcomes in women planning a pregnancy. 

Smarter Pregnancy was developed by colleagues from Erasmus University Rotterdam. We then translated the programme to ensure it is applicable to the UK population. 


The primary objective is to compare a composite risk score, based on self-reported on dietary factors, smoking and intake of folic acid, between women randomised to receive preconception care health information via a web-based intervention with frequent follow up and coaching and women randomised to receive less coaching and advice.


Women aged 18-45 presenting at Community Health Visiting Teams and planning a pregnancy in the next 12 months.

Follow up

The intervention group are followed up every 6 weeks with prompts to complete the information on the online app. The control group are prompted every 12 weeks.

All participants will be given follow up surveys at 3 months and 6 months.

At 6 months participants will be invited to complete an in-depth qualitative interview regarding their thoughts, opinions and experiences of using Smarter Pregnancy.


Health Education England

For further information please contact: dilisha.patel@ucl.ac.uk

Other Studies

We also have a PhD project currently looking at examining knowledge and peri-conceptional use of folic acid for the prevention of neural tube defects (e.g. spina bifida) in ethnic communities in the UK. Information can be found here

As well as a PhD project on pregnancy intention and its impact on neonatal and maternal health outcomes in Malawi. Information can be found here

Explore our pre-pregnancy website