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Women's interest in GP-initiated pre-conception counselling in the Netherlands

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Author: Jong-Potjer, L.C. de · Bock, G.H. de · Zaadstra, B.M. · Jong, O.R.W. de · Verloove-Vanhorick, S.P. · Springer, M.P.
Source:Family Practice, 2, 20, 142-146
Identifier: 237027
doi: doi:10.1093/fampra/20.2.142
Keywords: Health · General practice · Pre-conception care · Age · Child health · Clinical research · Clinical trial · Cohort analysis · Controlled clinical trial · Controlled study · General practice · General practitioner · Penetic counseling · Patient attitude · Randomized controlled trial · Abnormalities · Adolescent · Adult · Counseling · Family Planning Services · Family Practice · Female · Humans · Netherlands · Preconception Care · Pregnancy · Pregnancy Complications


Background. Pre-conception counselling has the potential to reduce pregnancy complications and congenital disorders. The timing of counselling, before conception, is crucial to maximize the benefit. As many couples are unaware of their risk status and the fact that the first period of pregnancy is crucial, they do not seek information before pregnancy occurs. To reach couples with timely information, it seems that a health care worker needs to take the initiative. In The Netherlands, the GP is in an ideal position to offer pre-conception counselling. Objective. The aim of this study was to determine the interest of women aged 18-40 in pre-conception counselling if this is offered to them by their own GP. Method. A cohort of women (n = 1206) received a personal letter from their own GP with an offer of pre-conception counselling. The women were requested to fill in a reply form, indicating if they were interested, might be interested (if they decided to become pregnant) or were not interested in an invitation for pre-conception counselling. When interested, they were asked to give an indication as to when they were planning a pregnancy. Women who were not interested were requested to give a reason. Results. Almost 70% of the women returned the reply form. Up to the age of 29 years, at least 80% of the respondents were interested or might be interested should they decide to have children. Most women, especially the younger women, do not know exactly when they wish to become pregnant. Regardless of age, >70% of the respondents were interested. Only 11% of the respondents indicated specifically that they were not interested in advice. Conclusion. Women are interested in GP-initiated pre-conception counselling. Further research is needed to assess the effect of programmed and systematic pre-conception counselling, offered by GPs, on pregnancy outcome and the health of the children. A randomized controlled trial to assess these effects currently is being conducted at the Department of General Practice in Leiden.