Pregnancy Planning and Pre-Conception Counseling

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To estimate the percentage of women with one 01 more of four potentially modifiable risks who could have availed themselves of pre-conception counseling.


We defined pre-conception counseling to be consultation that occurs shortly before a couple attempts conception. Thus, we assumed that to obtain pre-conception counseling, a woman must plan her pregnancy. We used data from a population-based survey of 12,452 new mothers in four states who delivered babies during 1988-1990. Mothers were contacted 3-6 months after delivery and asked about pre-conception behaviors and the planning status of their pregnancies. We estimated the percentage of women who planned their pregnancies and had an indication for pre-conception counseling related to smoking, drinking, being underweight, or delaying initiation of prenatal care.


State-specific response rates ranged from 68-84%. Sixty percent of mothers reported that their pregnancies were planned. In general, mothers with unintended pregnancies were more likely to have an indication for preconception counseling than mothers with planned pregnancies. Thirty-eight percent of all mothers planned their pregnancies and had one or more indications for preconception counseling. An additional 30% had one or more indications for counseling but did not have a planned pregnancy.


Despite the limited range of indications for counseling that we considered, a substantial percentage of women potentially could have used counseling. A similar percentage of women could have benefited from family planning services.

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