Vim & Vigor - Summer 2018 - Community Healthcare - 25

Before You
Start Trying

Prenatal Testing

Older women are more likely to undergo more frequent testing during
pregnancy than their younger counterparts.
"The older I got, the more tests they did," McDonough says. "The last
time, I felt like they were doing every single test and looking at them
through the mirror of 'advanced maternal age.' They were concerned with
anything that didn't look 100 percent normal-everything raised a red flag."
In women of all ages, doctors may recommend screening for:
* High blood pressure
* Gestational diabetes, with a glucose challenge screening or glucose
tolerance test
* Genetic disorders, chromosome abnormalities and neural tube defects,
with a triple screen test, chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis
"Women are offered very similar types of testing throughout the different ages. What we do more of in older women is monitor fetal growth,"
says Robert Atlas, MD, a member of the American College of Obstetricians
and Gynecologists.
Doctors can measure growth with ultrasound, which uses high-frequency
sound waves to create an image of the baby. They may also perform nonstress tests, which can measure heart rate, movement and contractions
in babies starting at 28 weeks of gestation. (It's called nonstress because
no stress is put on the baby during the test, in which monitoring belts are
attached to the mother.)
"With my last pregnancy, I had more ultrasounds, and it felt like I was
having a nonstress test every week, yet everything was completely normal,"
McDonough says.

The American Academy of Family
Physicians recommends preconception
counseling as part of primary care for all
women of reproductive age, and it's especially important for women older than 40
who are planning a pregnancy, says Michael
Thomas, MD, former board chairman of
the Association of Reproductive Health
Professionals. Preconception counseling
can help moms-to-be and their babies stay
healthy throughout pregnancy and delivery.
Depending on your health, risk factors and
age, your doctor may:
3 Recommend folic acid supplements
to help reduce the risk of certain
birth defects.
3 Talk to you about managing your weight
before you become pregnant if you are
over- or underweight.
3 Review your medications to see whether
any might be harmful during pregnancy
and recommend options or dosages.
3 Screen for sexually transmitted infections.
3 Update your immunizations.
3 Counsel you about how to best manage
diabetes, high blood pressure, seizure
disorders and other medical conditions.
It's not just women who can benefit
from preconception planning. There are
steps men can take, too. According to
the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, men should:
3 Be screened for sexually transmitted infections.
3 Stop smoking, because smoking can
lower fertility and secondhand smoke
increases the likelihood of having a baby
with a low birth weight.
3 Limit alcohol use and avoid marijuana,
cocaine and anabolic steroids, which are
linked with infertility.
3 Avoid exposure to synthetic chemicals,
certain metals, fertilizer, bug spray, and
cat and rodent feces, which can harm
reproductive health.
3 Maintain a healthy body weight.
3 Share family medical history with
a doctor.

S UMME R 2018

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