Wednesday, May 03, 2006

CDC issues guideline on "pre-conception care"

As part of an effort to reduce infant mortality and improve the health of newborns, the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities yesterday issued new “pre-conception care” guidelines that encourage women to “take stock of their health” before attempting to become pregnant, HealthDay reports. The guidelines, which were published this month in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, were developed based on the results of a two-year “exhaustive data review” by the CDC and more than 35 government, public, and private groups. The guidelines recommend that women contemplating pregnancy schedule a pre-conception physician visit—an appointment that the CDC is urging health insurers to offer coverage for. In addition, the recommendations advise women to control chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, reach or maintain a healthy weight, avoid alcohol, quit smoking, and create “reproductive life plan[s]” with their partners that outline when and how many children couples wish to have. The associate director for program development says although steps to ensure pre-conception health have been recognized as important “for many years, they have really not been a part of the health care system.” Physicians already have embraced the new guidelines, which they say create an “organized approach for [physicians] giving advice to women.” HealthDay notes that the new recommendations will be widely distributed, with many of the sponsoring groups providing links to the recommendations on their official websites

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