Healthy babies are worth the effort


Robert A. Hatcher MD, MPH

Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics

Emory University School of Medicine

Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia

November 6, 2009



In the past decade, one of the most important emphases in the field of obstetrics and gynecology is attention to pre-pregnancy measures that can ensure the healthiest possible baby.  What are some of the steps a woman considering pregnancy, the family around her and her physicians and nurse practitioners and nurse midwives can consider?


Here are the things a woman can do to have a healthy baby:

    Plan your pregnancy and your activities once pregnant to ensure that everything you do leading up to and during your pregnancy sustains your developing child’s brain.

    Get the vaccine against H1N1 flu right away.


  If there is any possibility that you are pregnant, write down the first day of your last menstrual cycle  to help your doctor to determine you due date accurately and then here are several recommendations for a healthy baby:


1.   Stop drinking any alcoholic beverages!! Fetal alcohol syndrome is the leading known preventable cause of mental retardation. There is no safe level of alcohol intake for a pregnant woman. If you have a relative who is pregnant, definitely do not offer her a beer or a drink.

2.   Go immediately to a pharmacy and get prenatal vitamins, the most important of which is folic acid (folate). Folic acid, 0.4 mg daily, should be taken throughout the reproductive years. Why bother? Because, folic acid prevents a number of neural tube defects including spina bifida. Stop smoking, if you are smoking.

3.   Eat healthy foods…fruits, vegetables and 3 glasses of milk a day to ensure a total of 1500 mg of calcium a day. Remember you are eating for two people. Pregnancy is definitely not the time to lose weight.

4.   Avoid risk of exposure to sexually transmitted infection. Use condoms if at any risk for an infection.

5.   If you want to have children, do all you can for their good health.