Pregnant women and those trying to have a baby are not getting proper levels of nutrition.
Nine in 10 are not getting enough iron and more than half are not getting enough calcium.
While the relationship between a healthy diet and a healthy baby are well known, researchers say that women are not following the nutrition guidelines to help them eat well “largely because they are unaware of the guidelines in the first place”.
The information from nine countries found that most of the women did not eat enough vegetables and cereals and their folate and Vitamin E levels were too low.
By contrast the women did eat enough dairy and enough protein.
The study by Endeavour College of Natural Health in Australia pointed out that lack of proper nutrition pre-conception or during pregnancy could have negative impacts on fertility, pregnancy and birth as well as the health of babies.
While dietary guidelines existed many women were not aware of them.
The study authors suggested that while nutrition education and counselling could improve the situation further studies were needed to see how this could best be done.
“The community needs better information about healthy eating in order to address this issue” said Cherie Caut of Endeavour College.
“Promoting links between diet and health pregnancy and birth, and increasing support for health professionals, may help better inform women and their partners about the importance of dietary choices on pregnancy success”, she added.
The study is published in the journal Maternal and Child Nutrition.