KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) explains what preconception screening entails and why it matters.
The aim of preconception screening is two-fold.
First, preconception screening helps to pick up any pre-existing health conditions that you may have, and make sure the conditions are well-controlled.
Second, it helps to keep you protected from potential health issues that may affect your impending pregnancy.
Below is a checklist of items that KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) will screen for when you embark on your HELMS (Healthy Early Life Moments in Singapore) journey with KKH.
1. Routine fertility check-up
a. In women near to their late 30s, probability of achieving a pregnancy will markedly reduce; while probability of infertility will markedly increase.
b. Issues regarding fertility commonly fall within the following categories: ovulation issues; damage to structures of the sexual organs; male factors such as sperm count/quality.
c. Further investigations may be required to uncover potential diseases that can affect you or your partner’s fertility, so that steps can be taken to address these issues.
2. Ensure good control over existing health conditions
a. For chronic conditions, be sure to discuss with your doctor about the medications you take. He/she will be able to transit you to medications that are safe for pregnancy.
b. It is crucial for mothers-to-be to maintain good control over chronic health conditions as these can affect the development of the baby within the womb.
3. Stop smoking and drinking alcohol
4. Mental wellness
a. The state of mind can be affected especially when the couple faces a perceived pressure to get pregnant and feel that they are unable to do so.
b. The level of stress, depression and anxiety may affect your fertility and sexual function negatively.
a. These vaccinations protect both you and your future baby. By keeping yourself vaccinated, your body will help produce antibodies that can be transferred to the baby during the pregnancy. As the baby's immune system will not be fully functioning until sometime after birth, your transferred antibodies will help protect the baby while he/she develops his/her immune system.
b. Most women are vaccinated against MMR, but these antibodies may wane over time. If the Rubella antibody level is too low to be detected in the blood, we will recommend the MMR vaccine. If you have taken the MMR vaccine, you will need to wait for 1 month before trying for a baby.
6. Protection from sexually transmitted infections
It is important to make sure that you are cleared of sexually transmitted infections as these may affect your future baby as he/she develops in your womb. There is an increased risk of having your water bag burst prematurely if you have an untreated vaginal infection. This may result in your baby being born prematurely, increasing the likelihood of future hospitalisations for your child.