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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Prevention Planning in a Pregnancy
March 2000

Q. What preventive measures can a woman who is pregnant take?

A. Ideally, prevention planning in a pregnancy actually starts before conception. Maintaining a good body weight, not smoking or using drugs, having a minimal amount of alcohol (if any), a balanced diet, and exercise is always a good foundation for preventive medicine. In addition, one should try to minimize the number of prescription drugs taken and should consume 0.4 mg of folate (a B vitamin) each day. Of course, other non-traditional medical issues should be addressed, such as being certain that the woman (or the couple) are truly ready to have a child and consideration given to parenting classes.

After the pregnancy begins, seeing a doctor early is important. There are screening tests, such as looking for certain diseases of the vagina or uterus, as well as blood tests looking for the potential to be susceptible to diseases like Rubella (German measles).

The whole list of preventative measures in pregnancy is quite long and beyond the scope of this column. The list includes checking for Rh compatibility , screening for certain birth defects (such as neural tube defects and Down Syndrome), prevention of pre-term labor, and early detection of twins. A nice overview of pregnancy care, including some preventative measures, is in books (e.g., Your Pregnancy : Week by Week by Glade B. Curtis M.D. OB/GYN and The Expectant Father : Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-To-Be by Brott & Ash) and can be viewed at the following URL: http://www.scl.ncal.kaiperm.org/healthinfo/prenatal/

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