The following pre-pregnancy quiz, adapted from a health risk appraisal designed by Dr. Robert Cefalo and nurse Merry-K Moos of the University of North Carolina, can help you learn how to maximize your chances of having a healthy child.
*Nutrition. Do you:
1. Eat fewer than three meals some days?
2. Practice vegetarianism (eat little or no meat)?
3. Avoid eating for 24 hours or longer?
4. Eat laundry starch, clay or dirt on occasion?
5. Vomit more than once a month?
6. Take or plan to take birth control pills?
7. Eat a special diet?
1. Smoke cigarettes?
2. Drink beer, wine or hard liquor?
3. Work with lead or chemicals?
4. Use lead or chemicals in hobbies or at home (such as oven cleaners, paint strippers, pesticides or ceramics)?
5. Work with radiation or ever have X-rays?
6. Own a cat?
7. Are you age 16 or younger? 34 or older?
Does anyone in your family have:
1. High blood pressure?
4. Tay Sachs disease?
5. Sickle Cell disease or trait?
6. Birth defects (such as heart, spine or other problems)?
7. Mental retardation?
8. Cystic fibrosis?
Do you now have, or have your ever had:
1. Genital herpes?
4. Epilepsy (seizures or spells)?
6. High blood pressure?
7. Heart disease?
8. Other diseases such as PKU (phenylketonuria), kidney disease or venereal warts?
9. Have you had rubella or been immunized against rubella?
10. Is your weight greater than 120 percent of the ideal for your height? Less than 85 percent?
Have you ever had any of the following:
1. Surgery on ovaries, uterus, cervix or fallopian tubes?
2. History of abnormal uterus or cervix?
3. Two or more abortions after 14 weeks of pregnancy?
4. Three or more miscarriages?
5. Five or more pregnancies?
6. One or more infants weighing more than 9 pounds at birth?
7. One or more infants weighing 5.5 pounds or less at birth?
8. One or more neonatal deaths (baby died before one month of age)
9. One or more infants requiring a stay in an intensive care nursery?
10. History of vaginal bleeding late in pregnancy?
11. Have you delivered a baby within the last year?
Do you ever use:
1. Prescription drugs?
2. Over-the-counter drugs?
3. Recreational drugs?
5. Birth control pills?
Thinking of having a baby? Evaluation
Nutrition. Good nutrition before and during pregnancy is essential to a baby's health. Skipping meals, fasting, severe dieting and frequent vomiting can rob the body of essential vitamins and nutrients. The use of birth control pills may also require some extra vitamin supplementation prior to becoming pregnant. Vegetarians may need to take some supplements during pregnancy.
Social History. Cigarette smoking, drinking alcohol, exposure to chemicals and radiation have all been associated with birth defects. Cats can carry a disease called toxoplasmosis, which can be harmful to a fetus. Being younger than 16 or older than 34 places women and their unborn children at higher risk for potential health problems.
*Family History. All of these diseases can be genetically transmitted and warrant a discussion with your physician for possible risk to you or your child.
*Medical History. Certain diseases may require special care during pregnancy or delivery to minimize complications. Being either too thin or too heavy may also require special precautions during pregnancy.
*Reproductive History. Certain types of uterine, cervical or ovarian surgery, including abortions, may increase the risk of miscarriages or delivery of a premature child, as can exposure to the drug diethylstilbesterol (DES). Giving birth to stillborn child or a child with a birth defect can be a sign of a genetic disease, which could also afflict other children. Women who have delivered a very large or a very small infant may require special prenatal care for future pregnancies, as may women who have had five or more pregnancies. Doctors recommend spacing pregnancies at least one year apart to minimize complications.
*Drug History. All drugs, from vitamins to prescription medicines, may have the potential to harm a fetus. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends checking with your doctor before getting pregnant if you take any drugs.