Thursday, March 26, 2009

Planning and Preparing for Pregnancy (Part 2)

Before you become pregnant, you'll want to know :
  • If you have any existing medical conditions that might affect your ability to conceive, have a healthy pregnancy, and/or give birth to a healthy baby
  • The health of your reproductive organs and breasts
  • Your fertility status
  • Your genetic history/heritage
  • Your metabolism rate
  • The condition of your heart, blood, lungs, urine, and hormones
  • If you need any adult immunizations/vaccinations
  • How current lifestyle choices could affect your pregnancy or your baby
A good way to have a check on this is by going for a Premarital/Preconception Checkup at your local GP or hospital. During the interview session with the doctor, you may want to include your genetic history, reproductive health history, lifestyle (home, work, leisure activities, and settings), and family medical history.

In more specific, ladies would want to test for Rubella. Rubella (german measles) used to be a common childhood illness but most children are now immunised against it. If you are infected with rubella during pregnancy, especially in the first three months, there is a high risk of the baby being deaf, blind or having heart or other abnormalities. You can have your immunity checked with a blood test if you aren't sure whether you have been immunised or had the infection in the past. Your GP can give you an immunisation if you need it. You will be advised not to become pregnant for three months after the immunisation. (Source about Rubella from BUPA)

Another important test to be conducted minimally is Thalassemias. Thalassemias are inherited blood disorders. "Inherited" means they're passed on from parents to children through genes. Thalassemias cause the body to make fewer healthy red blood cells and less hemoglobin than normal. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein in red blood cells. It carries oxygen to all parts of the body. It also carries carbon dioxide from the body to the lungs, where it's exhaled. People who have thalassemias can have mild or severe anemia. This condition is caused by a lower than normal number of red blood cells or not enough hemoglobin in the red blood cells. (Source about Thalassemias from National Heart Lungand Blood Institute)

Apart from Thalassemias, there are other genetic disease that might need genetic counselling according to Childbirth Connection, such as :

Achondroplasia (a form of dwarfism)
Canavan Disease
Cleft Palate
Club Foot
Congenital (inherited) Heart Disease
Cystic Fibrosis
Gaucher's Disease
Huntington's Chorea (a debilitating neurological condition)
Mental Retardation (Fragile X Syndrome, some forms of Down Syndrome)
Hydrocephalus ("water on the brain")
Muscular Dystrophy
Polydactylism (extra toes or fingers)
Sickle Cell disease or trait
Tay-Sachs trait or disease

And among the most common inherited diseases by ethnic group are:

Sickle Cell Anemia - a blood disorder that mainly affects people of African descent
Tay-Sachs Disease - a central nervous system disease that primarily affects Jewish people of Eastern European ancestry
Thalassemia - a group of blood disorders that mainly affect people of Mediterranean, African, and Southern Asian descent
Cystic Fibrosis - a disorder of the lungs and digestive system that mainly affects Caucasians

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