Preconception Health and Care provides a practical, multidisciplinary approach to support a broad range of health professionals, social workers, public health workers and others tasked with providing health and care to young adults.
The continuum of life begins with the health and wellness of parents prior to conception, followed by embryonic and fetal development, and continues throughout life. Each person’s life stages prepare them for the next and determine their health outcome and wellbeing over time.
The text highlights the importance of promoting health throughout the lifespan, the influence of intergenerational health, and the concept of the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease in epigenetic processes and embryology. Authors underscore the importance of advancing health equity and lift up some of the ethical considerations in this work.
The authors explore specific interventions in four major categories: Lifestyle, Infections, Nutrition, and Contraception / Pregnancy Planning (LINC). Preconception care is defined by the World Health Organization as the provision of biomedical, behavioural and social health interventions to women and couples before conception. Preconception care includes evidence-based interventions to improve health status, to reduce behaviours, individual and environmental factors that contribute to poor health outcomes.
Preconception Health and Care offers readers evidence-based guidance regarding fertility awareness and sperm health, genetic counselling and lifestyle assessments, as well as mental wellbeing, alcohol, tobacco and pharmacotherapy, and specialist care for those with chronic conditions, including a review of medications. It also covers relevant infections, including HIV and the Zika virus, as well as different types of environmental and occupational exposure. Preconception Health and Care employs a framework focusing on health promotion, the social determinants of health, and the science behind preconception care. Strategies for improving preconception and interconception health, including examples from around the globe, are described in detail.
About the Author
Professor Jill Shawe is a clinical academic nurse/midwife in the Institute of Health & Community at the University of Plymouth, UK, with extensive experience of working in higher education and in clinical women’s health care. Jill’s PhD focused on improving pregnancy outcomes for women with diabetes and she has developed a Programme of Research and Education in Periconception Care (PREPARE). The programme aims to improve the health of women with medical conditions and their partners, before and between pregnancies and collaborates with colleagues across Europe.
Professor Eric A.P. Steegers is a gynaecologist and head of the department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the Erasmus MC in Rotterdam. His current research interests relate to the pathophysiology of suboptimal embryonic development and malplacentation in the first trimester and the consequences for fetal and maternal health as well as disease in later life. New knowledge from translational research in these areas is being disseminated and translated in evidence-based local and national transmural preconception and early pregnancy programs for improved risk selection and general and personalized interventions with a special emphasis on high risk and socially deprived reproductive target groups.
Professor Sarah Verbiest, DrPH, MSW, MPH is a public health social worker and the director of two Institutes at The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Her work focuses on research, coalition building, teaching, policy, equity and professional training to promote intergenerational approaches to improve health outcomes for families. She is the senior advisor to the national Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative, providing leadership across the US to advance preconception wellness. She recently edited a book titled Making Change Happen: Moving Life Course Theory into Action from APHA Press.