Early Days of Pregnancy

December 11, 2009

A recent article in the journal Women's Health discusses the importance of detecting pregnancy early. The article focuses on a research study conducted by Church & Dwight Co. Inc., the creators of the well-known home pregnancy test called First Response. It seems that the study showed that not all at-home pregnancy tests are the same and some are more sensitive than others, and can detect important variations of the pregnancy hormone known as hCG.

Mary Jane Minkin, M.D. is the author of this study and a Yale University School of Medicine clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology. "The first days of pregnancy set the stage for healthy fetal development and a safe, healthy experience for mom. By choosing a highly sensitive pregnancy test like First Response, a woman can confirm she is pregnant very early and begin to make healthy choices for herself and her fetus," says Minkin.

Pregnancy Hormones

While all home pregnancy tests serve as a method for detecting levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), or the main hormone of pregnancy, the sensitivity of the various tests on the market differ from brand to brand. In the earliest stages of pregnancy, hCG is found in only very small amounts in a woman's urine. Some tests may not be able to detect low levels of this hormone. To complicate matters, certain variants of hCG contained in the urine are only present during early pregnancy. The various tests differ in their ability to detect these variations on a theme. Minkin feels that a test that is sensitive to the hCG variants has clear advantages over other tests since it can predict pregnancy at an earlier stage.

Another study bears out Minkin's contention that First Response trumps other brands on the market for sheer sensitivity. The other study was reported in the journal Clinica Chimica Acta. This study also showed that First Response detected the lowest concentrations of hCG in urine during very early pregnancy as compared to the other OTC home pregnancy tests. First Response found three known variants of hCG during early pregnancy on a consistent basis.

Prenatal Care

Early pregnancy detection is important because once a woman knows she is pregnant, she will seek prenatal care. The infants of mothers who didn't benefit from prenatal care have a triple risk for low birth weight and five times the risk for mortality than those infants whose moms got good prenatal care. The mom who knows she is pregnant will also make sure to make diet and lifestyle changes to improve her health and that of the fetus she carries.

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