CDC Guidelines Address Preconception Care
The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post on Tuesday examined CDC's new "preconception care" recommendations -- published in the April 21 edition of CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report -- that encourage women to maintain physical and emotional health before they become pregnant.
According to the Post, preconception care includes the recommendation that all women "between first menstrual period and menopause" take "folic acid supplements, refrain from smoking, maintain a healthy weight and keep chronic conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, under control" (Payne, Washington Post, 5/16). The goal of CDC's recommendations is to make preconception care "as common as prenatal care" for all women, including those not planning to become pregnant, according to the Journal (Chernova, Wall Street Journal, 5/16).
Any physician can oversee preconception care, which involves developing a "reproductive health plan" for women, and clarifies when and if there are plans for pregnancy, Janis Biermann, vice president for education and health promotion at the March of Dimes, said (Washington Post, 5/16).
Some doctors say that preconception care is a good idea but will be hard to include as part of standard medical appointments. In addition, health insurers usually do not cover preconception care, in part because there is no billing code, according to Hani Atrash, one of the authors of the recommendations and associate director for program development of CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.
CDC is calling on the American Medical Association to develop a billing code to allow physicians to begin charging for such care, according to the Journal. Unplanned pregnancies also are a "major stumbling block" to preconception care, and a study published this month in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health estimates that about half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned (Wall Street Journal, 5/16).