Preconception-A Public Issue

Preconception Care-An Idea That May Have Finally Reached Its Time

A word has recently been coined in the women's health arena and we're hearing it more and more these days. That word is "preconception." Preconception care has become a rather hot topic and one that has been a long time coming into its own. The idea of preconception care carries with it the import of what needs to be done before conception and, as such, it carries a great deal of weight.

There are many considerations a woman must make if she is planning her pregnancy. In truth, pregnancy often happens without planning and many mothers-to-be weren't sure they wanted what they were getting. When it comes to juggling life, careers, finances and relationships, these days preconception thinking is a prudent measure. Preconception planning is more than figuring out when you want to conceive and, for women of reproductive age, it is now recognized as a critical component of health care.

Making The Tools Available To Ensure A Healthy Pregnancy

The idea behind preconception care is to make available the important screening, testing, health initiatives and interventions for women who want to become pregnant before they do so, in order to reduce the risks that may endanger a future pregnancy. This system seeks to identify potential risk factors, whether they are biomedical, behavioral or social, that may influence a future pregnancy and to provide prevention and management strategies. These strategies require action before conception or very early into the pregnancy in order to be effective.

The Facts Are Staggering...The Future Challenging

On one level, many women are very aware of the need to be on top of their health before they become pregnant. However, it remains a stunning fact that in the United States, despite the major advances in medical care, poor birth outcomes continue to be staggering. Consider some of these statistics: Each year, 12 percent of babies are born premature, 8 percent are born with low birth weight, and 3 percent have major birth defects. 31 percent of women giving birth encounter pregnancy complications. Even though there is abundant information available to the public, 11 percent of women continue to smoke during pregnancy and 10 percent continue to drink alcohol. 31 percent of women who conceive are obese and 3 percent take over-the-counter drugs and medications which could endanger the life of their unborn baby. 69 percent of women do not take folic acid supplements which have been shown to be a crucial factor in the health of the forming baby. Finishing the list is the 4 percent of women who go into a pregnancy with an unmanaged, pre-existing condition such as diabetes, which can be dangerous if it is out of control.

Preconception Care May Change The Future For Many

Prenatal care is too little too late when it comes to intervention in potentially problematic pregnancies. The fetus is susceptible to developing certain difficulties in the first 4 to 10 weeks after conception, a time when most women either don't know they're pregnant or have not seen a medical professional for prenatal care.

Preconception care is important to the future health of the nation, yet it is still a service that is not often offered to the majority of women of child-bearing age. When preconception becomes a national issue, then hopefully more women will have the advantage of taking proper steps before they conceive to ensure the health and safety of themselves and their yet-to-be-conceived babies.


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