Preconception Health Should Be Priority For Women Of Childbearing Age

Birth outcomes remain worse in America than any other country despite advances in medicine

DAYTON, Ohio (January 16, 2014) – Women will put special care into creating a detailed birthing plan for the day their baby is born, but what they fail to realize is that the most important planning is before the baby is even conceived, according to Tiffany Hall, MD, with Premier OB/Gyn.

Preconception health – a woman’s health at the period of time when she is able to conceive a child – is becoming an increasingly important issue for national health care organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, that is because birth outcomes in the United States are worse than any other developed country despite advances in medicine and prenatal care in recent years.

“Women need to know how important preconception health is especially if they are not preventing a pregnancy,” Dr. Hall, a Premier Health Specialist physician, said. “Because when a woman finds out she is pregnant, there are processes that have already taken place relative to the formation of the baby. Most women are four weeks pregnant by the time they find out they are pregnant. It’s between two to four weeks that a significant portion of a baby’s organs – including the spinal cord and brain – have already started to develop.”

According to research conducted by the CDC, babies whose parents took steps to get healthy before pregnancy, are less likely to be born early (preterm) or have low birthweight. They are also more likely to be born without birth defects or other disabling condition.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said women should prepare for pregnancy before becoming sexually active – or at least three months before becoming pregnant. Some actions such as smoking cessation, reaching a healthy weight or adjusting medicines should start even earlier. The health department gives these five important steps women can take to boost their preconception health:

Folic Acid – Take 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid every day if you are planning or capable of pregnancy to lower your risk of some birth defects of the brain and spine, such as spina bifida.

Alcohol and Tobacco Use – Stop smoking tobacco and do not drink alcohol.

Address Medical Conditions – If you have a medical condition, be sure it is under control. Some conditions that can affect pregnancy include asthma, diabetes, oral health, obesity and epilepsy.

Check Medications – Talk to your doctor about any over-the-counter or prescription medications that you are taking to make sure they are safe during pregnancy. This includes dietary or herbal supplements. Also make sure that all vaccinations are up to date.

Environmental Concerns – Avoid contact with toxic substances or materials that could cause infection at work and at home.

Dr. Hall also advises patients to make sure they are eating a healthy diet and at their optimal weight before conceiving. A woman who is overweight can be predisposed to certain conditions such as gestational diabetes or hypertension. Extra weight can also complicate the delivery of a baby, especially if it is a cesarean delivery. Likewise, being underweight can have an impact on a healthy pregnancy, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Typically women don’t put as much importance on a preconception plan as on the birthing plan because everything is about the pregnancy and labor and delivery process,” Dr. Hall said. “But what women fail to realize is that caring for the baby starts before conception. Time put into the preconcetual period is what is going to matter when it comes to having a healthy baby.”
To learn more about Dr. Hall or preconception health, visit

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