A lot of women, especially those who are not trying to conceive, may not know that they are pregnant until well after they miss their period. In the United States, 50% of pregnancies are unplanned (Dott, Rasmussen, Hogue, & Reefhuis, 2010). In one Canadian national survey, 27% of respondents admitted to having an unintended pregnancy (Black, Yang, Wen, Lalonde, Guilbert, & Fisher, 2009). This paper examines the importance of preconception planning, diagnosing a pregnancy as early as possible, the benefits that this may have on the fetus, and how this may affect a woman’s lifestyle and health status.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2006), preconception planning is vital for women of reproductive age, whether they are trying to get pregnant or not. The goal of preconception planning is to identify health risks, health promotion and education, and interventions that address identified risks. Modifiable risks associated with poor pregnancy outcomes such as smoking, alcohol, medications that are known teratogens, obesity, lack of folic acid intake, and improperly managed pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes are prevalent among women of reproductive age (CDC, 2006). Women with chronic conditions such as asthma, epilepsy, hypertension, diabetes and thyroid disease may require adjusting medications, since many medications prescribed for these diseases are known teratogens; the safest medications should always be selected (Oberg, 2009). Vaccinations should be up to date, and titers should be run to check for antibody levels for varicella, rubella and tetanus; if contracted during pregnancy, these conditions can be harmful to the fetus (Oberg, 2009). In addition, according to Oberg (2009), periodontal disease often develops during pregnancy or is exacerbated by it, and is associated with an increased risk in preterm births, low birth weight and preeclampsia, therefore women should visit a dentist before getting pregnant....
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