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New pregnancy healthy eating app backed by UCD clinical research

Posted 02 February, 2021

Researchers at University College Dublin have helped the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) launched a new healthy eating app for pregnant women.

Hollestic provides up to a 100 recipes for healthy meal and snacks, all scientifically backed, with the aim of aiding women achieve optimum nutrition during and post pregnancy.

Each of the easy-to-use recipes is approved by researchers at the UCD Perinatal Research Centre and NMH dietitians.

“The Hollestic app is a lovely, real example of how clinical research has translated into a valuable resource for all our pregnant women,” said Professor Fionnuala McAuliffe, Director of the UCD Perinatal Research Centre and consultant obstetrician at the NMH.

“Certainly in the current climate, apps like this have an even more important role to play as assess to dietitians and antenatal classes continue to be restricted by COVID19”.

The app was trialled in an internationally recognised, randomised control study of over 500 pregnant women at the NMH, after which it was upgraded to include more imagery, top tips for pregnancy and as well as a baby size tracker.

Dr Eileen O'Brien, Senior dietitian at the NMH, said that the app is designed to "equip women with easy and nourishing recipes, which are enjoyable to cook", and was a direct result of collaborative work between mums, dietitians, obstetricians, and midwives.

"With the ever-increasing amount of pregnancy and nutritional advice available and the added challenges posed by COVID19, choosing three healthy meals and two to three snacks can be overwhelming, especially for new mums.

“Hollestic aims to act as a guide, support and motivator for women and their families, helping to ensure dietary needs are met during pregnancy and giving baby the best nutritional start in life," she added.

There is strong evidence to suggest that what a woman consumes in pregnancy has life-long effects on her child.

An ideal diet for pregnancy includes a balance of wholegrain carbohydrates, a variety of fruit and vegetables, lean protein sources (including red meat for iron and oily fish for omega 3), at least three sources of calcium-rich foods and limited confectionary.

Two supplements are necessary to include daily; 400µg folic acid and 10µg (400IU) vitamin D.

Speaking about the launch of Hollestic, Mary Brosnan, NMH Director of Nursing and Midwifery said Hollestic works differently than existing pregnancy apps by “taking users through their pregnancy journey with a pregnancy tracker and tips specific to trimesters, while also boosting a vast number of beautifully photographed, nutritionally dense recipes, which are backed by science.”

The Hollestic app is available on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, and more information is available here.

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations