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Preconception careBACK

Pregnancy is a major event in a woman's life. In bygone days, children were considered the gift of God but now as science have improved, we can plan conception. If you are planning for it, you can make wise decisions that will benefit you and your baby and, hence, arrange a visit to your doctor to discuss various aspects of medical care and/or diseases which may be affecting you and your partner. Age With advancing age the chances of Birth defects increases. Women also become prone to age related medical conditions. Nature of work Stressful work, frequent travels, working in close proximity to chemicals are factors to be considered before conception.

Medical conditions Medical condition should be investigated and treated before conception. Some women have medical problems, such as diabetes (high blood sugar), high blood pressure and cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels) problems that may increase risk for them and/or their foetus. They will need special care during pregnancy. Any health problem should be brought under control before becoming pregnant. Diabetics have two to three times risk of having babies with major birth defects which can be minimised by keeping the blood sugar under control before and during pregnancy.�Do not take medications without consulting your doctor as some can harm the foetus.

Infections and Vaccinations Infections can harm both the mother and the foetus especially in the first trimester of pregnancy. Rubella (German Measles)during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects or illnesses in the foetus. If you are vaccinated before pregnancy it will protect you and your foetus. The vaccine should be given at least 3 months before trying for conception.

STD (sexually transmitted diseases) like Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Genital herpes, Syphilis, HIV not only affect your ability to become pregnant but can also infect and harm your baby.

Past pregnancies If you have had a miscarriage or previous baby with a birth defect, your doctor may suggest studies to find out the cause.

Family health history Some conditions occur more often in families, e.g. diabetes, high blood pressure, or seizures. Genetic counselling can help those who have a child with a birth defect. Testing can be done to detect some genetic disorders like:
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Tay-Sachs disease
  • Fragile X (a cause of mental retardation)

Your lifestyle may need certain changes as well as you would be required to take a healthy and balanced diet.

Keep fit.

Avoid alcohol, tobacco.
Change of environment if exposed to teratogens like radiation, lead, lithium, tetracycline, anti-convulsants, anti-cancer drugs, etc.As you plan your pregnancy, talk with your family and take support.

Dr Rekha Khandelwal, M.S. Obstetrician & Gynaecologist Vardaan Hospital