Friday, January 25, 2008

Preparing for Pregnancy

I recently posted an Associated Press article on how women might want to avoid caffeine when they are pregnant because new research shows a cup and a half a day of coffee doubles your chances of miscarriage.

Dr. Michael Leonardi from Maternal Fetal in Peoria, Illinois says there is a lot more you should keep in mind BEFORE you get pregnant. He said,"By the time a pregnancy test turns positive, most of the baby’s organs have already formed. It may be too late to make changes to limit the impact on the baby’s development."

Here are the key points:

  1. Don't smoke and avoid second hand smoke:Women who smoke have an increased risk for infertility, delayed conception, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage), as well as complications during pregnancy. Smoking during pregnancy is associated with increased risks for low birth weight infants. It is the single largest modifiable risk factor for IUGR (intrauterine growth retardation). Mothers who smoke are more likely to have their water break early and more likely for placenta previa. SIDS is three-fold more common in infants who live in a household where anyone smokes. Children exposed to second hand smoke are also at increased risk for pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, and ear infections. 9600 excess perinatal deaths are annually attributed to cigarette smoking during pregnancy.
  2. Start taking vitamins:Women who could become pregnant should ensure intake of 400 micrograms or more of folate either from dietary or supplemental sources daily. The risk of a first episode of neural tube defect is decreased by approximately 50% in women who consume adequate folic acid prior to pregnancy. Although it has not yet reached the level of a consensus recommendation, there is emerging epidemiologic evidence to suggest that a balanced multivitamin preparation may reduce the risk of nonsyndromic fetal cardiac defects by up to 25%.
  3. Get a Cystic fibrosis screening: Cystic fibrosis is the most common autosomal recessive condition affecting the Caucasian population. All patients contemplating pregnancy should be offered screening for CF. If testing has previously been performed, it need not be repeated.
  4. Avoid Alcohol.
  5. Maintain a balanced diet and healthy weight.
  6. Avoid environmental toxin exposure.
  7. Make sure immunizations are up to date.
  8. Get pre-existing conditions (like diabetes and high blood pressure) under control.
  9. Talk to an obstetrician prior to conception, especially if you have a chronic medical condition.

I don't smoke, so I never actually read what smoking can do to a baby. Wow! I would think that would make someone quit pretty fast or at least trying really hard to quit. I never started taking vitamins until after I knew I was pregnant. I just never thought about it. Now I know.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen


Knight in Dragonland said...

I'm not sure that screening for CF would be either wise or cost-effective measure. Genetic testing is expensive, and there are over a hundred different mutations in the CFTR gene that lead to CF. You could certainly be screened for the most common mutation(s), but even that isn't a total guarantee.

If both parents turn out to be carriers ... what then? Do they not have children at all because there's a 1 in 4 chance that their child will have CF? Do they submit to chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis (endangering the pregnancy ... the risks are low, but real) and abort the fetus if it has CF?

People need to think about what they are going to do with this information before they head out and get screened.

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