WHO Issues New Prenatal Recommendations
Worldwide in 2015, approximately 303,000 women died from pregnancy-related complications, 2.7 million newborns died during the first 28 days of life, and 2.6 million babies were stillborn. Recognizing the importance of regular medical care throughout pregnancy to reduce the risk for complications, the World Health Organization has raised the number of recommended doctor visits for women who are pregnant from four to eight.
According to the WHO, only 64 percent of women worldwide receive prenatal care four or more times during pregnancy. Prenatal care involves promoting the importance of a healthy lifestyle—including good nutrition—during pregnancy; preventing, diagnosing, and treating diseases during pregnancy; and providing family planning counselling and support for women who are pregnant.
A minimum of eight contacts for prenatal care could reduce serious complications, such as perinatal (around the time of birth) deaths, by up to eight per 1,000 births. The new guidelines recommend the first prenatal visit within the first 12 weeks’ gestation and subsequent visits at 20, 26, 30, 34, 36, 38, and 40 weeks. They also contain 49 recommendations outlining prenatal care, including advice on diet and nutrition, physical activity, tobacco and substance use, diagnostic tests, immunizations, fetal monitoring, and dealing with pregnancy-related symptoms like nausea and back pain.
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