June 10, 2006

CDC: Do You Have A "Reproductive Life Plan"?

Because for many preventitive fetal and maternal health measure, "the horse is already out of the barn" by the time the bun is in the oven, the CDC convened a panel to formulate preconception health standards and recommendations.

In a nutshell, the panel says that "every pregnancy should be a planned pregnancy," and that men and women both should come up with "Reproductive Life Plans" before making babies. Beyond that pie-in-the-sky suggestion, there are several important-sounding health & medical tips for the woman wanting to get pregnant. Check out the LA Times article for a summary, or the CDC's full report for details. But if that's too time-consuming, you can pretend that reading this bullet pointed list is sufficient preparation for conceiving a child:

  • Quit smoking.
  • Take a multivitamin with folic acid in it. Repeat: FOLIC ACID.
  • Get tested for immunity to rubella, and if needed, get a rubella vaccine at least one month before conception.
  • Screen (and maybe get vaccinated) for varicella, the virus that causes chicken pox.
  • Need to lose weight? Lose some.
  • Screen prescription drugs for fetal riskiness (Accutane and statins are biggies).
  • Get any existing health issues (e.g., diabetes, HIV) under control.
  • Have you looked at contraception? It helps stick to the plan.

    Hmm. My wife just pointed out that dental work and any treatment involving x-rays isn't on the list, and sure enough, it doesn't get a single mention in the CDC report. She says her doctors have always told her to get any x-rays done before getting pregnant. But the CDC doesn't care. I'll look into that.

    So what does any of this have to do with men? Aren't we as disconnected from the whole conception and pregnancy process before impregnation as we are for the whole period after? Judging from the CDC's recommendations, I'm tempted to say yes. Just by reading this far on this post, you've already helped the CDC panel meet almost half of its first goal: "Improve the knowledge and attitudes and behaviors of men and women related to preconception health." And if you've got your Reproductive Life Plan all squared away, the only other advice they have is to help out more around the house.
    Get Healthy, Then Get Pregnant [latimes.com]
    Recommendations to Improve Preconception Health and Health Care, Apr 21, 2006 [cdc.gov, pdf]
    Reproductive Life Plan factsheet [msu.edu]


    The male plan should include 'quit smoking' for second hand smoke effects. Weight lifting for carrying/rocking the baby in the car seat.

    [I remember wishing I'd done more knee and lower back exercises; I felt like I was skiing moguls in the middle of the night trying to bounce the kid back to sleep. -ed.]

    Gee, how nice? EVERY pregnancy should be a PLANNED pregnancy? Come on...I love telling people my daughter was an unplanned pregnancy. They look at me all crazy like, since we're married, have a house, yada yada yada, and then I got knocked up.

    And they don't mention "stop drinking" on their list either... It was 7 weeks in before I knew I was pregnant. Since we weren't trying AT ALL, I had horrible guilt when I found out b/c there were a few too many alcoholic drinks ingested in those 7 short weeks (it was summer, there were weddings, I was stressed out b/c I was bloated and PMSy...or so I thought...). Fortunately, she's a peach of a 4 month old with no ill effects from momma's imbibing.

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