Preconception Health Awareness for Birth Defects and Disability Prevention

Does disability prevention begin in the womb? or earlier? “Prevention is better than cure” has always been a common and undoubtedly true saying. However, there is still a gap on how Filipinos carry this saying in preparing to have kids and start a family.

Preconception health refers to the health of women and men during their reproductive years or the years they can have a child. It focuses on taking steps that are important in protecting the health of a baby that they might have in the future. Hence, preconception health is important in the improvement of birth outcomes, particularly in the prevention of preterm birth, birth defects and disability.

There are a number of birth defects which are known to be preventable. The most common examples include:

  • neural tube defects (problems in the development of the brain and spine) through folic acid supplementation before pregnancy;
  • fetal alcohol syndrome by avoiding alcohol consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • congenital heart defects by controlling weight and blood sugar levels during pregnancy

 These three only represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the list of preventable birth defects, disabling conditions and health concerns wherein preconception health services can intervene.

The US CDC further expounded the importance of preconception health by emphasizing that everyone, both men and women and whether or not they plan to have a child, can benefit from preconception health. Accordingly, preconception health (PreCon) is about people getting healthy throughout their lives.

  • For women of reproductive age: PreCon means taking control and choosing healthy habits and feeling good about life, whether or not they plan to have a baby someday.
  • As a partner: PreCon means encouraging and supporting the health of your partner and your family.
  • For the babies: Getting PreCon means giving them the best chance for a healthy start in life. Taking care of your health will help reduce the risk of your baby being born preterm or with a low birth weight, and will increase its chances of being born without a birth defect or other disabling condition.

birthirthMake a PACT for Prevention is a campaign launched by the US-CDC National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disability (NCBDDD). It highlights the importance of making healthy choices to help prevent birth defects through a PACT which stands for Plan ahead, Avoid harmful substances, Choose a healthy lifestyle and Talk to your healthcare provider.
Let’s discuss #PreConPH!

  • T1: What are the possible reasons why preconception health consultation/awareness is not popular in the Philippines? Why?
  • T2: What reforms or activities can we introduce or suggest in order to improve preconception health awareness?
  • T3: How can social media be utilized in improving preconception health awareness?


Preconception Health.