Preconception health interventions can reduce the risk of adverse outcomes. However, it is unclear to what extent preconception care is being done and there are no national guidelines to implement.
Health (ABC Study)
This study will explore and pilot the feasibility of a primary care intervention to raise awareness of, and screen for individuals' preconception ‘risks’, in ethnically diverse settings. The study has two main phases. The first is to explore and identify current practice, attitudes, beliefs and information needs concerning preconception care and its assessment, and to develop and refine existing methods of preconception health assessment for use in UK primary care. The second phase is to pilot the effectiveness of the preconception health assessment in a before and after study in primary care to facilitate preconception health awareness and assessment with women of reproductive age.
Why is the project necessary?
Preconception health care aims to reduce risk factors to improve outcomes of pregnancy for mother and baby through health promotion, screening etc. There is evidence that interventions can reduce the risk of adverse outcomes such as the use of folic acid supplementation, rubella and hepatitis vaccination and better glucose control in diabetes. However, the best evidence for effectiveness has been when the focus has been on a single risk.
Although interventions should ideally target all those of reproductive age, the risk and burden of related ill-health is unequally distributed. Maternal and child health outcomes are poorest among disadvantaged groups e.g. infant mortality is highest in poor black, South Asian, and white groups.
Improving maternal and child health is a strategic aim of local Primary Care Trusts. However, it is unclear to what extent preconception care is being done and there are no national guidelines on preconception health assessment or evidence on models that might be implemented.