For Teens & Women

WHAT IS PRECONCEPTION HEALTH?

A woman’s health before pregnancy is called preconception health (PCH). By improving her health before becoming pregnant, a woman can be better prepared for pregnancy and be as healthy as possible during and after pregnancy. Getting healthier involves taking steps, such as eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and addressing chronic health conditions, e.g. diabetes and high blood pressure.The main goal of PCH is to provide health promotion and education, screening for diseases, and medical care for women of childbearing age (18-44 years) to improve their health and to address factors that might affect future pregnancies (CDC, 2009).

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PRECONCEPTION CARE

  • We know that women who improve their health before pregnancy can be healthier mothers and have healthier babies. Healthier women have less chance of having other problems with pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes, miscarriage, or preterm labor. Their babies have less chance for problems, such as preterm birth, low birth weight, high birth weight, or stillbirth.
  • Preconception health refers to the health of women during their childbearing years before and between pregnancies.
  • It is important for women of childbearing age to take steps to quit smoking, get up-to-date on shots, avoid alcohol and tobacco, maintain a healthy weight, and get chronic diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, under control before pregnancy.
  • Because 49% of pregnancies in the U.S. are not planned, we urge all women of childbearing age to take steps to improve their health now.

WHY IS IMPROVING PRECONCEPTION HEALTH A PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERN?

Women of childbearing age may have health conditions and risk factors that affect their well-being and, should they become pregnant, the well-being of their infant. By addressing health conditions and risk factors before pregnancy, women can improve their likelihood of a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, depression, and sexually transmitted diseases (e.g., chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis) are among the medical conditions that impact pregnancy outcomes by increasing risk factors for disease and complications among women of childbearing age (D'Angelo D, et al., 2007; CDC, 2012; CDC, 2011; Chaterjee S, 2008).