Pregnancy Pathway, Preconditions

Please refer to Feb­ru­ary 5 entry for com­plete graphic. Today we turn to the ques­tion of pre­con­di­tions to preg­nancy and how they might affect mater­nal and off­spring health.



Pre-existing fac­tors that can influ­ence health out­comes include genetic fac­tors (fam­ily risk for heart dis­ease, for exam­ple), envi­ron­men­tal fac­tors (liv­ing in a build­ing with mold, for exam­ple), and behav­ior (eat­ing well and exer­cis­ing, for exam­ple). In each cat­e­gory, fac­tors will con­tribute to the health of the mother and even­tu­ally to off­spring health.

It is impor­tant to under­stand what major genetic fac­tors may affect your off­spring and whether the envi­ron­ment or behav­ior can help off­set neg­a­tive fac­tors. For exam­ple, there may be a his­tory of preeclamp­sia dur­ing preg­nancy in your fam­ily, but vig­or­ous aer­o­bic exer­cise in the six months prior to preg­nancy pro­vides a high degree of pro­tec­tion from this risk. Preeclamp­sia puts both mother and off­spring at risk for complications.

Other genetic fac­tors that may be of con­se­quence include autoim­mune dis­or­ders, aller­gies, and meta­bolic syn­dromes. For exam­ple, so-called “thrifty genes” may pre­dis­pose you to a high weight gain in preg­nancy. But, you may be able to off­set health prob­lems asso­ci­ated with this by stay­ing active and eat­ing well.

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