If you have decided to start a family, you are probably already thinking about ways to increase your chances of having a normal pregnancy and a healthy newborn.
Screening a woman’s health and doing some blood tests before conception allows a doctor to identify the conditions which have the potential to have adverse impact on her health, or the health of her developing baby (foetus). It is an important aspect as many diseases can be treated or managed beforehand to reduce risks to the mother and baby’s health if they are identified timely.
A healthy woman can also carry some diseases which do not cause any symptoms, but which can have serious adverse impact if left untreated before conception.
There are certain pre pregnancy check up that includes a set of blood tests that doctor may recommend to you and your partner to ensure that both of you are free from any kind of illnesses. Based on the results of these investigations, doctors will advise you instructions regarding certain exercises, diet , lifestyle, and necessary supplements (like multivitamin). Doctor recommends changes in certain habits like smoking, alcohol to have a safe pregnancy and a healthy child.
Every woman should have their blood screened to know her blood group (whether she has type A,B,AB,OR O). Women who already know their blood type will not need to have this test. It is also necessary to know whether the woman has Rh- or Rh+ blood group. If any woman is having Rh- blood group then her partner blood group is tested for Rh factor and if partner blood is Rh + then their foetus may develop haemolytic disease, a serious condition which can cause severe anaemia in developing baby even leading to infant death in some cases.
This condition occurs when Rh woman is exposed to the blood of her Rh+ foetus and begins producing antibody. These antibodies are passed on to the foetus during pregnancy, and can cause a new born baby with Rh + blood to reject its own blood. This can be easily prevented by giving the shot of anti D injection,preventing the formation of antibodies to Rh + blood.
2-OTHER MEDICAL CONDITIONS TO BE RULED OUT
Women should be tested for certain other medical condition like diabetes,hypertension and etc.so that it can be treated before planning a baby because these conditions can also lead to various pregnancy complications.
It is very important to test for thyroid as even very small changes in thyroid can affect developing baby’s brain development. Infact the TSH to be maintained during pregnancy lower than in normal circumstances.
4-RUBELLA AND CHICKENPOX VACCINATIONS
Rubella is a flu like illness caused by rubella virus. If it happens during pregnancy it can lead to a abortion or birth defects. Most of us are already immune to rubella due to either previous vaccination in childhood or earlier exposure to virus but some women may not be immune and we need to find out those women by doing a simple blood test called RUBEELA IgG. If this test turned out to be negative that means you are not immune and ideally you should be taking RUBELLA vaccination prior to planning pregnancy and since this vaccine is a live virus vaccine –you should not become pregnant in the following one or two month even by a mistake, because the vaccine itself may lead to harm to the foetus if conception happens within one month of RUBELLA vaccination.
Similarly if a pregnant lady catches CHICKEN POX it can severly impact her developing baby .many women ae already immune to it due to pre op vaccination or illness. Those who are not immune can be detected by test called VARICELLA IgG. If this test is negative –we need to immune with CHICKEN POX vaccination,this is also a live virus vaccine ,so you should use contraception for atleast one month after vaccination shot.
Women should be tested for –
HIV, HEPATITIS B ,HEPATITIS C, VDRL (SYPHILLIS)
6-HPLC (THALASSEMIA TESTING)
THALASSEMIA is a blood disorder that passes down through families (inherited)in which a body makes an abnormal form of haemoglobin (a protein in red blood cell that carries oxygen to the rest of our body ). It leads to severe anaemia and cause health problems in the baby requiring multiple blood transfusion and short life span –(20 or 30 years). It is passed from parents to children through their genes. If anyone from the couple is carrier of thalassemia genes then both the parents are screened for thalassemia gene and if it is positive in both partener’s then baby may have major thalassemia . Getting tested before pregnancy can help you and your partener’s to find your baby’s risk.
The birth of such baby with major thalassemia can be prevented by either before conception using the technology of IVFand PGT (pre implantation genetic testing)in at early gestation or after conception by CVS (chorionic villus sampling)to detect whether the developing baby is suffering from major thalassemia.
7-MEDICATIONS TO BE TAKEN PRIOR CONCEPTION
All woman of reproductive age should get 400 mcg of folic acid .each day before and during pregnancy to get enough folic acid to help prevent some birth defects of the babies brain and spinal cord cause due to deficiency of folic acid .also if you are suffering from anaemia it should be treated beforehand under case of a doctor, most probably you will be prescribed iron for this.
Preconception care is a set of interventions needed to identify and to modify various types of health issues in women of reproductive age .the goal of preconception testing is to improve the pregnancy outcomes and woman’s health in general through prevention of diseases and management of risk factors that affect pregnancy out come and the health of future generations
By taking the above mentioned simple measure you may be able to prevent many potentially serious complications of pregnancy.
Take care a healthy mother and baby is backbone of any nation.
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