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Pre-conception counselling in primary care: Prevalence of risk factors among couples contemplating pregnancy

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Author: Pal van der-Bruin, K.M. de · Cessie, S. le · Elsinga, J. · Jong de-Potjer, L.C. · Haeringen, A. van · Knuistingh Neven, A. · Verloove-Vanhorick, S.P. · Assendelft, P.
Institution: TNO Kwaliteit van Leven
Source:Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, 3, 22, 280-287
Identifier: 240782
doi: doi:10.1111/j.1365-3016.2008.00930.x
Keywords: Health · Jeugd en Gezondheid · Maternal education · Preconception counselling · Risk factors · adult · alcohol consumption · article · body weight · cigarette smoking · controlled study · dietary intake · educational status · female · general practitioner · human · lifestyle · male · maternal care · occupational exposure · parent counseling · pregnancy outcome · prevalence · primary medical care · questionnaire · risk assessment · risk factor · substance abuse · Adolescent · Adult · Counseling · Family Characteristics · Family Practice · Female · Health Behavior · Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice · Humans · Life Style · Male · Preconception Care · Pregnancy · Pregnancy Complications · Questionnaires · Risk Factors


The outcome of pregnancy can be influenced by several risk factors. Women who are informed about these risks during pre-conception counselling (PCC) have an opportunity to take preventive measures in time. Several studies have shown that high-risk populations have a high prevalence of such risk factors. However, prevalence in the general population, which is assumed to be low risk, is largely unknown. We therefore provided a systematic programme of PCC for the general population and studied the prevalence of risk factors using the risk-assessment questionnaire which was part of the PCC. None of the couples reported no risk factors at all and only 2% of the couples reported risk factors for which written information was considered to be sufficient. Therefore, 98% of all couples reported one or more risk factors for which at least personal counselling by a general practitioner (GP) was indicated. Many of these factors were related to an unhealthy lifestyle. Women with a low level of education reported more risk factors than women with a high level of education. There is a great need for PCC as shown by the fact that almost all couples reported risk factors for which personal counselling was indicated. Pre-conception counselling may reduce the risk of adverse pregnancy outcome by enabling couples to avoid these risks. PCC can be provided by GPs, who have the necessary medical knowledge and background information to counsel couples who wish to have a baby. © 2008 The Authors.