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Protect Your Pregnancy Before You Conceive

Experts say there are many things women can do to increase the health of their pregnancy -- and their baby -- long before they conceive.

The Preconception Exam continued...

"One of the things we're seeing in the dawning of the 21st century is a tremendous amount of new information on genetic risk assessment -- and obviously the time to be aware of any potential genetic risks is before you conceive," says Hecht.

Other experts agree. "One thing that many patients don't think about it is that certain ethnic groups may be at risk for certain types of genetic disorders -- African Americans are at risk for sickle cell anemia, eastern Europeans need to be checked for Tay-Sachs disease, Mediterranean people and southeast Asians have to watch out for thalessemia, while Caucasians of northern European extraction should be screened for cystic fibrosis, all before getting pregnant," says Williams.

Regardless of what your exam uncovers, doctors say that by knowing the potential trouble spots ahead of time, you can be better prepared to deal with any problems that might develop during your pregnancy, regardless of the cause.

Says Silverstein: "If you optimize your health prior to getting pregnant, ultimately, you can have a healthier pregnancy, which is not only good for you, but important to your baby."

Colette Bouchez is the co-author of Getting Pregnant: What You Need To Know Now and the author of the forthcoming book Your Perfectly Pampered Pregnancy.

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Reviewed on December 15, 2003

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