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Family 411: Preconception Health for Those Hoping to Start a Family
DAYTON -- Americans have better access to health care than any other developed country, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says birth outcomes here are among the worst. It has a lot to do with choices women make before they ever get pregnant.
Arlynn and Ebony Hall recently found out a baby is on the way. Theyre talking about names and shopping for the nursery.
Families spend months preparing for their little miracle, but OB-GYN, Dr. Tiffany Hall says, What's more important is actually preparing for the pregnancy.
The health community has a new focus for women of child-bearing age: preconception health.
Dr. Hall says, You want to make sure you're going into a pregnancy as healthy as you can possibly be.
Ebony was working closely with Dr. Hall for months before she conceived, and says she decided to change the way she as eating and started working out.
Her husband Arlynn adds, Being an engineer I was kind of on her too, to make sure she took her prenatal vitamin.
For the Halls, getting healthy is not just for the baby. They're making it a priority for their whole family. According to the CDC, babies whose parents took steps to get healthy before pregnancy were less likely to be born early or have low birth weight.
Dr. Hall says it should start at least six months before pregnancy.
She says, If you have unhealthy habits such as smoking, even alcohol use, illicit drug use, that needs to stop.
Dr. Hall says unlike Ebony, most patients don't consult with her until they're already pregnant, and that concerns her.
If you're not healthy when you're ready to conceive, then any disease process you had before can get worse as a result of pregnancy, says the OB-GYN.
Preconception health should be a team effort between patient and doctor, just as Arlynn and Ebony are making their new healthy lifestyle a team effort.
Being that she had to do that for the health of the baby, that helps me a lot, says the expectant dad, and Ebony adds, I feel like that's a gift you can pass, and my children can pass, just like a legacy of being healthy.
Here are five things women should do *before* becoming pregnant: Take pre-natal vitamins containing folic acid. Stop smoking and don't drink alcohol. Get medical conditions like asthma or diabetes under control. Talk to your doctor about any medications you're using. Address any environmental concerns at work or home which could threaten your health or a baby's.
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