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J Nurse Midwifery. 1993 Jul-Aug;38(4):188-98.

Preconception care. An opportunity to maximize health in pregnancy.

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  • 1Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Baltimore, MD 21287-1228.


In 1990, the United States Public Health Service published Healthy People 2000: National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives. One of the objectives included in the family planning priority area and repeated in the maternal and infant health priority area is the following: "Increase to at least 60 percent the proportion of primary care providers who provide age-appropriate preconception care and counseling." Drawing on the guidelines proposed by the Public Health Service Expert Panel on the Content of Prenatal Care, this article describes the components of preconception care: 1) appropriate and ongoing risk assessment, 2) health promotion, and 3) medical and psychological interventions and follow-up. The organization of this article is based on a preconception class outline developed by the authors; recommendations included in the article are consistent with those of the Expert Panel. After discussing opportunities for providing preconception care, this article addresses: 1) helping women evaluate their psychological readiness; 2) evaluating physical readiness; 3) the examination and concerns of the father; 4) evaluating the need for genetic counseling; 5) creating a positive environment for conception; 6) discontinuing family planning methods and timing conception; and 7) choosing a provider and birth place.

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