The Crucial Nature Of Preconception Care
Medical knowledge has grown in leaps and bounds, yet too many U.S. newborns are born with one or another type of preventable defect. Every year, 12% of all newborns arrive as early deliveries, 8% are born with low birth weights, and 3% come into this world with serious birth defects. Around 31% of pregnant women experience some type of pregnancy complication.
Sad Statistics: Poor Birth Outcome
Among the causes of these sad statistics are the lifestyle behaviors of women in their childbearing years. For example, 10% of women in this age group consume alcohol and 11% smoke during their pregnancies. Prior to conception, a whopping 69% of women in their fertile years aren't taking folic acid, 31% are obese, and 3% use prescription medication or OTC drugs that have a reputation for causing birth defects.
In addition to these causes of poor birth outcome, 4% of women in their fertile years suffer from medical conditions such as diabetes that if left uncontrolled, might have a serious deleterious effect on pregnancy. All of these risk factors represent serious obstacles to a healthy pregnancy, but making lifestyle changes and receiving good medical care can avoid tragedy and make a successful pregnancy outcome possible.
Even women aware of the importance of prenatal care may not know it comes far too late in the game to prevent the worst of the preventable pregnancy problems. Women in the U.S. tend to begin receiving their prenatal care by the 11th or 12th week of gestation. But a fetus is most susceptible to permanent but avoidable developmental damage from the 4th to the 10th week after conception has occurred.
No Clue: Most Women Don't Know They Are Pregnant
Most women have no idea they've conceived during these early weeks. For this reason, it's crucial that all women partake of preconception care. In this way, women can eliminate risk factors before damage can be done to her baby or to her own health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended that all women in their childbearing years avail themselves of preconception care. As such, they have begun an initiative known as Healthy People 2000 to ensure that primary care doctors are able to give preconception care to their patients. For now, just one in four health care providers fills this role for their female patients. The aim of Happy People 2000 is to bring the rate of doctors who offer this service up to 60%. The issue has become too critical to ignore.