Preconception screenings determine whether a pregnant mother or baby is at risk of increasing morbidity and mortality later in life. According to Center of Disease Control and Prevention (where), there is evidence that many preconception interventions reduce the risks of adverse pregnancy outcomes. These are some recommended preconception screenings:
Medical check up
It is important to know if you have certain medical conditions such as asthma, hypertension, diabetes and blood clotting disorder. It is better to control a condition like diabetes before get you pregnant. High blood glucose level can be harmful to you and your baby. Left uncontrolled, your diabetic conditions may worsen and risk miscarriages. Talk to your doctor about your current and past health problems. If you are receiving treatment for a medical condition, your doctor might want to change the way of treatment. Some medications used for treatments could be harmful if taken during pregnancy. At the same time, stopping medications that you need could be more harmful than risks posed should you become pregnant. The medical conditions can either be managed or referred to a suitable specialist before you get pregnant to ensure that you are at your optimum health before you conceive.
2. Infectious screening & Vaccination history
Many form of infections could be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy, delivery or sexual contact. The three most common infectious diseases screening are Human Immunodeficiency Virus(HIV), Hepatitis B and Venereal Disease Research Laboratory(VDRL). VDRL is designed to check for syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection. These three tests can be easily done with just a tube of blood. If the infection can be treated, it will be done before you get pregnant. Otherwise, the doctor will counsel you on the precaution and prevention methods to avoid transmitting the disease to the fetus, including advice on available vaccines. Update your vaccination record to your doctor to check if you need any further vaccine before you get pregnant.
3. Preconception carrier screening (Genetic)
Preconception carrier screening is something that you can get done before conceiving to help predict your chances of having a child with a genetic disorder. Based on your ethnic background and medical history, you may also need a test for genetic disorders such as sickle cell disease, thalassemia and others. If you and your husband are carriers of a genetic condition, you have several options. You may choose to proceed with your pregnancy with the option of considering prenatal diagnosis, or use in-vitro fertilization (IVF) with Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis(PGD) technique. This way, only embryos which are tested normal will be transferred into your womb. A couple can also choose to use healthy non-carrier donor gamates to conceive via assisted reproductive technique like intrauterine insemination(IUI) or IVF. Inform your doctor of any known genetic conditions in your family.
4. Dental screening
You may want to keep a regular dental check-up before and during pregnancy. If you have gum disease, getting treatment before pregnancy may prevent health problems in you and your baby later. Gingivitis, or gum inflammation is especially dangerous when you are pregnant. If left untreated, it can lead to periodontitis, which could cause preterm birth. To prevent similar issues, schedule an appointment to see the dentist before you conceive at least once. During your visit to the dentist, tell your doctor that you are planning to conceive.
Ms Tan Mei Yuen has completed her diploma in nursing from SEGi university. Ms Tan then further pursued her bachelor of nursing science with honours in Open University Malaysia and majoring in Paediatric nursing, renal nursing and intensive care nursing. 7 out of 500 graduates have passed their nursing degree with distinction in nursing school, she is 1 of the 7.