Preconception Health Care
Sets Foundation for Optimal Mother-Child Health

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Preconception health care is an extension of antenatal care and a facet of teenage health care.

This facet of preventive health care is to improve the health of youths before they even plan to have a baby. The concept of preconception counseling is not new, but its recommendation guidelines have been emphasized only over last 20 years. 

People are not adequately aware of the preventive aspect of preconception health visits, and therefore do no avail the available facilities.

In spite of the fact that tween and teens are naturally attracted towards sexual activities, visiting a doctor for reproductive counselling has been shied off from by both, the parents and the teenagers.

Some sex education is given in schools, but it cannot be substitute for the preventive health care.

Moreover, parents are at a loss as to whom to turn to and what to ask for. But preconception health care is included in the domain of gynecologists, pediatricians and family physicians. It’s not only teenagers that we are concerned about.

Preconception care is for all men and women in reproductive age group; before the first pregnancy and in between the pregnancies.

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Why is preconception health care needed?

Several obscure factors in young couples affect their fetuses' growth and development. With timely counseling and care, most of these risk factors are modifiable if not treatable, and happier outcome can be expected. Poor outcome of pregnancy drains the family emotionally, physically and financially.

Preconception Health Care Need To Be Initiated in Tween Years

How preconception care differs from prenatal care? 

Prenatal care is exhaustive medical care provided to the mother and her baby during pregnancy, child birth and after.

Universal acceptance and accessibility of prenatal care has dramatically improved mother-child health. Over last 100 years, the world has seen almost 90 to 99% decline in maternal and infant mortality and morbidity associated with child birth.

The success of prenatal care, though impressive, has a very strong selection bias:  

  • Large majority of pregnant women do not avail prenatal care in the first 3 months of pregnancy; world statistics vary from as low as 35% to maximum of 80%. It does not reach 100% even among the educated and well provided communities.

  • When we look at the global statistics almost 60% of all pregnancies are unplanned, and at least half of them do not attend antenatal clinics during the first 3 months of pregnancy.

  • Abortions are most common during the first 3 months of pregnancy; most of which do not show up in the statistics recorded for prenatal care.  

Preconception counseling and care lays the foundation...

Preconception health care prepares the healthy foundation for successful conception and appropriate prenatal care; eventually thereby for optimal mother-child health.

Even before a woman realizes that she could be pregnant, development of her baby’s organs (like brain, spinal cord, and heart) is already underway. And it is during early weeks of gestation that a baby is most susceptible to injury. Severe birth defects originate during this phase of fetal development.  Pregnancy loss during this period is frequent, which is usually misinterpreted as heavy bleeding of delayed monthly period.

The fact that 65-75% of all clinically accountable abortions occur during the first trimester reenforces the concept of preconception health care.

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Fetus: Growth Stages and Viability

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